Yotam Ottolenghi’s stuffing recipes | Side dishes (2024)

Yotam Ottolenghi recipes

There’s a lot more to stuffing than sage and onion, and that applies whether you cook it inside the bird or separately

Yotam Ottolenghi

Sat 16 Dec 2017 09.00 GMT

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Is stuffing still stuffing when it doesn’t get stuffed? Even if such riddles are not the stuff (sorry!) to fuel your Christmas conversations, stuffing should certainly be on the table for your Christmas meal. And whether or not you stuff your stuffing inside the bird is a matter of opinion.

The advantage of putting the stuffing inside a turkey or chicken before roasting is that it will then absorb all the flavour and juices that develop while the bird cooks. However, this can be to the detriment of the meat, which runs the risk of overcooking and drying out in the time it takes for the stuffing to cook through properly and be ready to eat.

This is certainly the case with denser stuffings that feature, say, sausagemeat, but it’s not something that affects the lighter stuffings I prefer. In today’s chicken recipe, for example, I give you the best and greediest (and most controlled experiment) of all: enough stuffing to fit inside the cavity with some left over to bake alone.

Generally, though, I prefer to cook my stuffing separately, be that as a tray bake or as individual balls or even muffins. I love the way it gets crisp all over when cooked that way and, perhaps even more, I love the opportunity this provides to challenge the pre-eminent role of any big bird at the table. Rather than playing second fiddle to the main act, I want my stuffing (along with all the other side dishes) to be loud, proud and delicious enough to stand alone.

Roast chicken with rye sourdough, caraway and cranberry stuffing

Any juices and stuffing that fall out into the pan while the chicken is roasting are perhaps the tastiest bits in this dish, so don’t leave them behind when you serve. Serves four.

For the chicken
1 tbsp caraway seeds, toasted
2 peeled garlic cloves
1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
40g unsalted butter, melted
1 whole chicken (about 1.4kg)

For the stuffing
60g unsalted butter
2 tsp caraway seeds, lightly crushed
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4-5 large celery sticks, cut in half lengthways, and then into 1cm dice
1 onion, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
100g dried cranberries
100g ready-cooked and peeled chestnuts, soaked in hot water for at least 15 minutes, drained and roughly chopped
4-5 slices mixed rye and wheat sourdough (about 100g), crusts removed, lightly toasted, then roughly torn into 2cm pieces
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
10g tarragon leaves, finely chopped
10g chives, finely chopped
120ml chicken stock

Start with the bird. Put the caraway seeds, peeled garlic, sugar and half a teaspoon of salt in a mortar, then grind to a paste. Put the melted butter in a non-metallic bowl large enough to hold the chicken, add the caraway paste and mix to combine. Put the chicken in the bowl and, using your hands, smother the paste all over the bird. Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least two and up to 24 hours. About 30 minutes before you are ready to cook the chicken, take it out of the fridge so it comes up to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. For the stuffing, put the butter in a large nonstick pan on a medium-high heat and, once it melts, fry the caraway seeds for two minutes, until fragrant. Add the garlic, celery, onion, cranberries, chestnuts and a teaspoon of salt, and fry, stirring often, for about 12 minutes, until it’s all golden and softened. Tip the contents of the pan into a medium bowl, add the bread, lemon zest, tarragon and chives, then pour in the chicken stock and stir to combine.

Transfer the chicken to a small roasting tray just big enough to fit the bird, sprinkle all over with half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, then fill the cavity with the stuffing. (Depending on the size of your chicken, you may have some stuffing mix left over: if so, put the excess in a small ovenproof dish and put this the oven half an hour before the chicken finishes cooking).

Roast the chicken for about 70 minutes, basting the bird in the juices every 15 minutes or so, until the skin is golden brown and crisp, and the juices run clear (test by inserting the tip of a sharp knife into the thickest part of the thigh; if the juices are still a little pink, roast for five to 10 minutes more). Once done, remove the bird from the oven, leave to rest for 10 minutes, then serve.

Celeriac and prune stuffing

This works well alongside all sorts of things: roast chicken and turkey, of course, but also hearty vegetarian mains such as roast butternut squash. Chill any leftovers and reheat them another day. Serves four.

500g celeriac, hairy roots removed, scrubbed clean but unpeeled, cut into roughly 2cm pieces
60ml olive oil
1½ tsp cumin seeds, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
70g sourdough bread, crust on, cut into 2cm pieces
5 sage leaves
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
100g pitted prunes, quartered
20g parsley leaves, finely chopped
100ml vegetable stock

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Put the celeriac on a large oven tray lined with baking paper, then toss with two tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of cumin seeds, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper, until evenly coated. Roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring once halfway, until the celeriac is soft and golden-brown, then tip it out into a large bowl.

Turn up the oven to 210C/410F/gas mark 6½. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high flame, then fry the onion, garlic, bread, sage, the remaining teaspoon of cumin and half a teaspoon of salt for seven minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and golden and the bread golden and crisp. Tip the lot into the celeriac bowl, add the chilli, lemon zest, prunes, parsley and a generous grind of pepper, and stir to combine.

Transfer the celeriac mix to a 20cm x 20cm heatproof dish, pour the vegetable stock over the top and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top is crisp and golden brown. Leave to rest for five minutes, then serve.

Stuffing muffin

A great alternative to traditional stuffing, for serving with any roast chicken. Makes 12.

160g smoked pancetta, cut into 1cm pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g ready-cooked chestnuts, broken in half
1 tsp caraway seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
100g pitted prunes, roughly chopped
8 large sage leaves, finely shredded, plus 12 small leaves to top the muffins
2 eggs, lightly whisked
250g buttermilk
90g mature stilton, broken into 1-2cm pieces
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
15g basil leaves, roughly torn

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6, and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

In a medium frying pan, fry the pancetta on a medium-high heat for five minutes, stirring a few times, until browned and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl, leaving behind the fat in the pan. Pour the oil into the hot pan, then fry the onion, celery, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper for eight minutes, stirring a few times, until soft and golden brown. Return the pancetta to the pan, add the chestnuts, caraway, prunes and chopped sage, and fry for two minutes more, then spoon into a medium bowl. Leave to cool, then mix in the eggs, buttermilk and 60g of the stilton.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and a quarter-teaspoon of salt into a large bowl, stir in the basil, then add the pancetta mix and gently fold together until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, filling them right to the brim, and top each one with a sage leaf and a little knob of stilton. Bake the stuffing for 18-20 minutes, until risen, cooked through and golden brown on top (to test, a skewer should come out clean). Serve warm or at room temperature.

• Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.


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