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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Stuff yourself with sausage ‘cake’

For us a good Christmas dinner is all about interesting accompaniments.

That means good veg, good sauces and good stuffing.

To make this year super exciting, we have our very own sausage meat and bacon produced from our first pigs to slaughter so that should bring an extra element of luxury (slow grown, outdoor reared pork) to our stuffing.

We like to combine the idea of separate stuffing and pigs in blankets to make a ‘heavy on the sausage meat’ stuffing. We usually do this like a swiss roll with a sausage centre wrapped in bacon, but this year we’re going to give this festive sausage stuffing cake a go.

Never mind the turkey – this will steal the limelight as a fab centrepiece.

Serves eight to 10.

2 tbsp olive oil

25g butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional, but we like it in almost everything)

¼ bulb fennel

100g white breadcrumbs

500g good-quality sausage meat (if you have not managed to rear your own pigs(!) then we recommend buying good quality sausages and discarding the skins – or you can get really good sausage meat at Pioneer in Harrington)

50g roughly chopped walnuts, plus extra to serve

Grated zest of one orange

A handful of dried apricots, chopped

Small handful of chopped sage leaves

Small handful chopped parsley

Small handful of chopped rosemary

1 egg, beaten

8 rashers rindless streaky bacon

Salt and pepper

 

Heat the oven to 200C.

You will need an 18-20cm spring form cake tin.

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, celery, garlic and fennel for 5 minutes without colouring them.

Allow them to cool slightly. Tip the vegetables into a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, sausage meat, walnuts, orange zest, apricots and herbs. Add plenty of pepper and a little salt and mix together with your hands. Add the egg then mix well.

Arrange the bacon slices around the sides of the tin, leaving roughly a 5cm strip of the rasher on the base and then letting the excess hang over the edge of the tin.

Carefully fill the tin with the stuffing mix, so as not to disturb the bacon and level it out on top.

Fold the excess hanging bacon over the top of the stuffing, gathering and twisting the ends loosely in the centre – this gives it an attractive look once cooked and means the bacon gets crispier. Scatter over the extra walnuts, pressing them in slightly.

Set the tin on a baking sheet lined with foil to catch any juices that escape.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges to serve.

 

Fancy a change? You can vary the herbs in the cake or substitute dried for fresh.

You could use dried cranberries or prunes instead of apricots, and you could add some grated apple to the mixture for extra moisture and flavour.

Obviously this is great hot but also good cold on a buffet.

If you don’t have a cake tin, you can easily do this in a loaf tin instead.

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