Plump up your turkey or chicken with this festive stuffing recipe. Loaded with traditional flavours like sage and cranberry, it’s perfect for Christmas.
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Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place half the bread in a food processor and process until coarse breadcrumbs form. Place in a large bowl. Repeat with remaining bread. Divide among 2 large rimmed baking trays. Spray with oil spray and toss to coat. Bake for 10-15 mins or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add bacon, onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 6-8 mins or until onion is soft. Stir in cranberries, sage, parsley, lemon rind and pepper. Remove from the heat.
Place the breadcrumbs and bacon mixture in a large bowl and toss to combine. Whisk the butter, stock and eggs in a medium bowl. Add to the breadcrumb mixture and stir to combine. Divide into 2 portions. Use half to stuff the turkey. Roll remaining stuffing into walnut-size balls and place on an oiled baking tray. Bake for 35 mins or until stuffing is heated through, golden and crisp.
Here we have divided the stuffing in 2, rolling half into balls and stuffing the remaining into the turkey (we used a 4kg bird). You can make balls only or even cook the stuffing freeform on an oven tray.
COOK. STORE. SAVE.
Clever storage: Leftover breadcrumbs can be frozen for up to 3 months. Here are some clever ideas to use up leftover bread.
Nothing says Christmas quite like a turkey in the middle of the festive table, and the easiest way to take it from amazing to unforgettable is to add stuffing. Our turkey stuffing recipe makes use of traditional flavours – think sage and cranberries – and teams them with bacon and red onion for something sweet, salty, herby … and the thing to elevate a moist turkey breast.
Before we answer that, we’ll pick our mouths up off the floor! “Why bother with stuffing?” If you’re going to an effort to make a roast turkey – and it is one of the more challenging Christmas recipes – you may as well go the whole way and make a Christmas stuffing, too. There is some suggestion that stuffing a turkey (or any meat) helps keep it moist as it cooks, but for our recipe, the real reason is that it’s delicious – as the meat cooks, the juices from the turkey soak into the bread, binding all those beautiful flavours together. You can cook it separately if you prefer – try this one cooked in the oven, Curtis Stone’s herb-parmesan stuffing – but then you’d miss out on the great flavours and you’d take up even more space in your oven on a day that you probably don’t have space to spare.
This bit is more important than you probably think: bread is the base of your stuffing so you need to get this part right. A rustic-style bread, like sourdough or panne di casa, that’s slightly stale, will hold some structure while it absorbs the juices. This is also why the breadcrumbs you use for the stuffing mix should be coarse, not fine. A soft bread that you might use for sandwiches will become too soggy in stuffing for turkey, so steer well clear of that.
Firstly, you might be tempted to mix all your ingredients into the breadcrumbs raw because they're going to get cooked in the oven anyway, right? Don’t do this – ingredients like bacon and onion need to be cooked first to soften them and release their flavours. You may also be tempted to add in a little extra of this or that. Too many additions will result in the bread not being able to hold the mix together, which may result in a crumble. If you follow our stuffing recipe, you will get the best results.
While you can use a spoon to place the sage and onion stuffing into the turkey cavity, we usually use our hands – it’s easier and faster (if a little bit messier). The tip here is to not pack the bread stuffing in too densely. It needs room to expand and plump up as it cooks and absorbs the moisture. Finally, use kitchen string to tie the legs together to hold the mixture in place and help the turkey cook evenly.
Now, it would be remiss of us to give you all the instructions for making homemade stuffing but none of the need-to-know info about actually cooking the turkey! Here is our ultimate Christmas turkey guide. You’ll find everything from what size turkey you need to feed your crowd, how long to cook it and even how to carve it.
Need more turkey inspiration? Explore our Christmas turkey recipes with plenty of different stuffing ideas to try.
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