Wednesday 22 December 2010

Festive Turkey Stuffing with Green Peppercorns, Pork Sausage, Apple and Thyme

I've used squashed green peppercorns as an ingredient for my turkey stuffing this Christmas not only because I want a change from the usual apricot-bacon-nut theme, but also because 2010 has been my personal Year of Pepper. I've always been partial to this splendid, much-adored spice - the king of spices, don't you agree? - but in recent months my love of pepper has developed into something of a craving.
Festive Turkey Stuffing with Green Peppercorns, Pork Sausage, Apple and Thyme
Image from Wikipedia Creative Commons
I just can't get enough of the dark, warm, aromatic, citrussy scent and taste of peppercorns. White pepper, in particular, has featured in several of my recipes this year - it's my personal blogging mission to revive this rather neglected and unfashionable ingredient - and I am also very fond of green peppercorns in brine.

In this recipe, I've combined crushed green peppercorns with grated fresh apple, pork-sausage meat, breadcrumbs, thyme, lemon zest, onions, garlic and nuts to create a light, flavoursome stuffing that I think will be a good accompaniment to my run-of-the-mill supermarket turkey. I can't offer you a photograph, because I haven't stuffed the turkey yet, but I have fried up a few small patties of the stuffing to check the balance of flavours and the seasoning, and I'm very happy with the result.

I've used chopped, lightly toasted Brazil nuts in this stuffing because I love their slightly bitter, woodlandy taste - a bit like chewing on a branch, I always think - but you could quite easily use any similar crunchy nuts, such as macadamias or cashews. If you're making the stuffing in advance, as I've done, add the toasted nuts just before you stuff the turkey.

I found that this stuffing held together so well that I didn't need to add any egg. But if your stuffing mixture doesn't come together smartly when you squeeze a ball of it in your fist, add a beaten egg.

For the breadcrumbs, use slices of white or brown bread (or rolls) that are at least three days old. If your breadcrumbs are too soft and fluffy, the stuffing will be stodgy and pasty. Tear the bread slices into tatters and whizz them up, in batches, in a food processor or liquidizer.

Festive Turkey Stuffing with Green Peppercorns, Pork Sausage, Apple and Thyme

4 tsp (20 ml) olive oil
1½ cups very finely chopped onion (a very large onion, or two average-sized ones)
2 cloves fresh garlic, very finely chopped
the finely grated zest and juice of a lemon
2 red apples, cored
6 pork sausages (Eskort or Woolworths)
4 large sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped (about 2 tablespoons of leaves)
4 tsp (20 ml) Madagascar green peppercorns
1 tsp (5 ml) flaky sea salt
5 cups (very loosely packed) fresh breadcrumbs
100 g chopped Brazil nuts (or similar; see my notes above)

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium flame. Add the finely chopped onions and the garlic, turn down the heat and cook very gently for 7-10 minutes, tossing now and again, until the onion is soft and transluscent. Don't allow the onion or garlic to brown.

Place the lemon zest and juice in a large mixing bowl. Grate the apple, skin and all, on the coarse side of a cheese grater, and tip the gratings directly into the bowl containing the lemon juice. Toss well so that the apple is coated with lemon juice. Squeeze the filling out of the pork sausages (discard the sausage skin) and add it to the mixing bowl, along with the thyme leaves and the cooked onion and garlic.

Put the green peppercorns in a mortar with the salt and pound them to a rough paste. (Or, if you don't have a mortar, squash them on a chopping board using a rolling pin or a heavy-based pot.) Add the pepper paste to the mixing bowl. Using your hands, squeeze and squish the contents of the mixing bowl together. Now tip all the fresh breadcrumbs into the bowl and, using a fork or your fingertips, lightly mix until combined. Don't overwork the mixture, or it will turn into wallpaper paste.

Toss the Brazil nuts in a hot, dry frying pan, over a medium flame, until lightly toasted. Lightly mix the nuts into the stuffing mixture.

At this point, it's a good idea to test the stuffing for flavour and seasoning. Take a small ball of the stuffing, press it into a little patty and fry it in hot oil until lightly browned. Taste the patty, add more salt if necessary, and then cover and place in the fridge until you're ready to stuff your turkey.

Makes enough stuffing for a large turkey.
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Linda Harding said...

Well, no guesses why I love this recipe, being a SQUASHED tomato! Squashed peppercorns sound delish... and, although the big day is over, we still have an entire chicken as leftovers... this stuffing is perfect! Thanks! Hope you had a fabulous Christmas!

Jane-Anne said...

Thanks Linda! And hope you had a fabulously squashed Christmas...