Christmas Kitchen: Bacon Wrapped Stuffing Bites
Okay, so I may have shamelessly ripped the idea for this recipe from the Christmas section of the M&S Food Hall this year, but who can think of anything better than slightly rosemary scented balls of sage and onion sausage stuffing, wrapped in bacon and topped off with a tart cranberry cooked alongside your Christmas turkey? In our family Christmas stuffing is not Christmas stuffing if it is not made with a certain sausage meat in a certain way, so I thought re-creating these little bites would be the perfect excuse to share our recipe.
These stuffing balls are pretty versatile to fit into the rest of your festive cooking. You can make them on the day with the rest of your stuffing, and cook from raw around your turkey for the last 20 minutes of cooking, or make them ahead to cook from raw, or cook them the day before then warm them up anywhere in the oven for 10 minutes before it is time to serve. As well as stuffing the bird and making these balls, if you have any more leftover stuffing we roll it into balls and stash them in the freezer to take out and enjoy with our roast chicken on Sunday nights throughout January, and February if they last that long!
This recipe is also pretty adaptable. I’ve listed 500g of sausage meat for ease, but the packets of Hoads Korkers meat, made in Rolvenden in Kent (you can find it in a lot of independent Kent butchers) we use are actually 454g. Just buy what you can that is close to 500g, and you’ll be just fine. Also, in the bacon department, if you’re trying to stretch the meat like I was you can get away with half a slice of streaky around each stuffing ball, but they may unwrap a bit during cooking, or use a whole rasher per stuffing ball; it is Christmas after all! This recipe makes approximately 12-14 bites, and the stuffing method is adapted from Delia Smith’s Christmas cookbook.
Also, a note on breadcrumbs. You can buy fresh breadcrumbs in bags, or make your own. I usually whizz up defrosted slices of bread out of the freezer in my mini chopper (I swear by this one), or stale bits of old loaves. To cut down on waste, I both like to keep breadcrumbs I’ve made in a clean dry jam jar in the fridge (they will last about two weeks), and freeze stale lumps to defrost and whizz up into breadcrumbs later.
- 500g (18 oz) Sausage Meat
- 1 Small White Onion
- 2 Heaped tbsp Fresh Breadcrumbs
- 1 Heaped tsp Dried Sage
- Boiling Water
- 6-12 Slices Unsmoked Streaky Bacon
- 12-14 Fresh Cranberries
- Fresh Rosemary
Peel and grate the onion (use the largest hole of your grater) into a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs and the sage, then splash in enough water from a boiled kettle to moisten the breadcrumbs and the dried sage. You don’t want it too wet that there is excess water though; add it gradually. Add the sausage meat and get your hands dirty combining it all, then rolling into 12-14 meatball sized balls. Wrap with bacon, press a cranberry into the top of each and garnish with a little sprig of rosemary. If you’re cooking these ahead, they’ll want 20 minutes in a 200 degrees (390 Fahrenheit).
Finally, while we’re on the topic of things to go with your Christmas turkey, and while you’ve got the rest of a bag of fresh cranberries to deal with, here is my (well, adapted from Nigella) recipe for Cranberry Sauce with Cherry Brandy. Also, if you’re the kind of family who has a starter as part of their Christmas dinner (though, I’ve never understood how you can eat that much! Then again, part of our family tradition is also that I make waffles with bacon, maple syrup and bucks fizz on Christmas morning after we’ve opened our Hotel Chocolat heavy Christmas stockings) I use fresh cranberries in the Winter Slaw that goes with my Easy Chicken Liver Paté.