I mentioned when I shared my rutabaga, bacon and date stuffing that stuffing is a key part of Christmas dinner in our family. In my house as a child, we would always have a few to choose from, and so it only seemed reasonable to work on another recipe for this Christmas ideas week. One type we would always have in some form or another was a sausage stuffing, that could often be relatively plain with just sausage meat, herbs and onions or mixed with fruit and nuts.
One of the great things about a sausage stuffing is that leftovers are really good in a sandwich. Because I think it is important to consider the leftover qualities as well as the main meal, don’t you agree? It is also hearty enough that it would work well in its own right as a main dish with, for example mashed potatoes and a side of greens or green beans. In fact, we had this pear, cranberry and sausage stuffing as a main dish along with Brussels sprouts and baked sweet potato and it was great.
As I said, sausage stuffing is a form of stuffing that has a lot of scope to vary the contents and adding fruit and nuts can both give a nice texture and flavors, as well as lightening it up a bit. For me, pork and pear or apple are such natural partners, especially with some added herbs, that it seemed an easy route to start with for my next stuffing. I also like to get a bit of a variety of flavors in there, and cranberries work well both to add some color as well as that nice slight sharpness.
Stuffings are one of these things that can seem like they take a while to cook, but most of that time is oven cooking where you can largely ignore it. They can also be prepared up to the point they go in the oven a bit in advance. I am afraid I have tended to be fairly disappointed by the sausages I have had in the US other than some good German-style ones we have had in our meat box and a couple others. But I think that is partly because I am missing the proper sausage revival that was going on in the time before I left the UK, and I am glad to (or rather jealous) to see it still continuing as I sampled when I was back last month.
No more are the days of boring plain sausages that you couldn’t tell what was in there, now you can get a huge range of tasty mixes such as pork and apple, Toulouse, merguez, and pork with sweet chili and those are just supermarket varieties. Proper butchers, like we had down the road in London, can have some fantastic game and other unusual mixes and all without a lot of the rubbish that goes in many sausages. I’m sure, in time, I’ll find some good options here too.
So all this is to say that I decided I might just try starting with plain pork mince and add in my own flavoring rather than starting with sausages as such, but feel free if you can get hold of good sausages to just split them open and use them, cutting down on some of the herbs etc to balance out what is in the sausage.
A couple notes on the recipe before we get to it – I would say you need to like cranberries as when you get one in your mouthful, it is relatively sharp, but personally I like that. If you don’t, then feel free to take them out or replace with something else, such as dried cranberries where you still get the nice flecks of color without the sharpness. The other thing to note is this stuffing is relatively crumbly. If you want it to hold together a bit more, then drain off some liquid after you initially cook the pork and add an extra egg and that should do it. We, however, enjoyed it just as it is below, including my son who came back for more as long as I avoided the cranberries, which is fair enough for a two year old.
This pear, cranberry and sausage stuffing is a lovely mix of savory, sweet and sharpness. It’s fairly rich but as a result would make a great accompaniment to turkey or other similar meat as part of your festive meal. Or make it the main show. Either way, enjoy.
Pear, cranberry and sausage stuffing
- 1/2 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 lb ground pork 450g pork mince
- 1 tbsp fresh sage chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup cranberries fresh or frozen
- 1 cup breadcrumbs fresh
- 1 pear peeled, cored and diced relatively small
- 1 egg beaten
- Dice the onion relatively small and cook in a little oil over a medium heat, until starting to go translucent and softening, around 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, stir, and cook for another minute or two, then add the pork mince. Cook, stirring now and then, until it is cooked through.
- Add the herbs, a little salt and a good grinding of pepper, mix in, then remove from the heat.
- Add the cranberries, breadcrumbs, pear and egg and mix well.
- Transfer the mixture to an oven dish and bake for around 30-40 minutes until gently browned on top.