“This is Gennaro’s traditional recipe for stuffing – the ingredients here are for his basic recipe, but check out the embellishment options in the method before you shop so you can tweak as you like. ”
a few sprigs of fresh woody herbs, such as sage, rosemary, thyme
1 pinch of dried chilli flakes , optional
400 g stale bread
150 ml semi-skimmed milk
600 g quality sausagemeat or chipolata sausages
unsalted butter , for greasing
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Peel and finely chop the onions then sweat in a frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper for 10 minutes, or until soft but not coloured, stirring often. Pick and finely chop the herb leaves and stir into the pan, with the chilli flakes for a bit of warmth (if using).
Trim off the crusts then tear the bread into a bowl and soak it in the milk and 150ml of water for a couple of minutes so it gets really soft. Squeeze between your hands to get rid of the excess liquid, then transfer to a separate bowl. Tip in the soft onions and mix together – the bread will cool the onions down quickly.
Once completely cool, add the sausagemeat or squeeze the meat out of the chipolata skins into the bowl and use clean hands to scrunch it all together. This is your base stuffing mix and it’s delicious!
Or, you can embellish it with one or a combination of the ideas: 1 small handful of chopped dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, dates, dried apricots; 1 splash of sherry or sweet wine; 1 handful of pine nuts or chopped mixed nuts; the finely grated zest of 1 clementine or 1 small orange; a good grating of of nutmeg.
Rub the inside of a baking dish (20m x 30cm) with butter. Reserve one handful (roughly 200g) of stuffing for your turkey, then push the rest into the dish, spreading it out fairly evenly. Use any extra herbs, nuts and dried fruits you have to decorate the top, pushing them in with your fingers. Drizzle with a little oil to help it crisp up, then pop in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 at the bottom of the oven so you get a really crispy base, for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.