Everyone has their favourite part of a traditional roast. Whether it’s a crispy wing or leg, a Yorkshire pudding, bread sauce or pigs in blankets, a Sunday lunch or a Christmas meal would be incomplete without it. For many people, that crucial ancillary dish is stuffing. That herby, pungent mixture that doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of anything yet can bring such intense flavours to the plate.
As Christmas is a time really to go overboard on the side dishes (on top of everything else), it is pretty much mandatory that stuffing features on your menu, whether or not you are a fan. And shame on you if you’re planning to sneak a packet of Paxo into your Christmas shopping trolley.
We’ve been guilty of laziness over the years with our stuffing, whether that’s making do with adding water to grey powders, having our heads turned by strange innovations (Nigella’s gingerbread stuffing, anyone?) or letting Delia and Waitrose take the strain with a stuffing „kit“, when rustling up a fresh stuffing is actually incredibly cheap and easy.Cheap Jerseys from china You can even prepare it the evening before, meaning all you need to do on the big day is stick it in the oven.
It’s called „stuffing“ because it is traditional to stuff the meat with whatever concoction you should choose. However, these days chefs tend to disagree over whether the stuffing should be put inside the meat or cooked separately, either in a baking dish or rolled up in balls on a tray.
„I prefer to put it inside the meat as it gets all the flavours from the animal when it’s cooking,“ says Vincent Menager, head chef at The Balcon in St James’s, London. While this method can certainly result in a tasty stuffing, it is not without its drawbacks. Raymond Blanc is one chef who believes that stuffing should be cooked separately from the meat. „It allows you to cook your meat and stuffing correctly,“ he argues. „If you were to stuff the cavity of your bird and cook them together, you would need to overcook the bird to enable enough heat to reach the stuffing.“
Simon Wadham, head chef at the Rivington Grill in east London, also recommends approaching stuffing meat with caution. „Cooking stuffing inside the bird has been given a bad name over the years with people not doing it properly and getting salmonella and that type of thing. You’ve really got to know what you’re doing.“
Other than ensuring your stuffing is cooked correctly, there are few other rules when it comes to its constituent parts. Try new herbs and flavours and don’t shy away from using a different meat in the stuffing from the one you’re roasting. There are no hard, fast rules here. „A little bit of pork belly in your goose stuffing mix will not only add flavour, but the fat will add moisture to the stuffing,“ says Blanc.
So, what flavours go with each type of meat? „Sage goes very well with all poultry it brings some very nice flavours to it,“ Menager says. „Rosemary or something a bit spicier goes nicely with beef. With lamb, I like to go for nuts, perhaps walnuts or almonds, or something a bit sweeter like apricots. Pork goes well with apple and cinnamon.“
With so much potential for injecting different flavours into your roasts, it’s time that stuffing started to get the attention it deserved and stopped being relegated to a culinary afterthought or outsourced to supermarket chefs. „Stuffing can transform a simple roast into something extraordinary!“ Blanc enthuses. „By adding all sorts of different spices, fruits and nuts to your stuffing, you will succeed in bringing a little extra flavour and texture to your meal.“
100g dried cranberryMix all ingredients together, roll in plastic wrap (clingfilm is fine) and steam for 20 minutes.
Cheap, fast and frills free. Hong Kong’s street restaurants have served well loved favourites from beef brisket to toast with condensed milk from roaring curbside burners for decades.But the cheerful grassroots stalls known as dai pai dongs in Cantonese have dwindled to fewer than 30 in the city of seven million people, where they thrived after World War II before red tape hurdles set in.Offering the rare chance to eat outdoors, escaping the Asian financial hub’s air conditioned high rises, the eateries are a nostalgic throwback to Hong Kong’s past.With no walls, cooks in the open, customers on plastic stools, melamine plates and bunches of chopsticks in tabletop jars, it’s a no fuss formula that still draws customers day and night.“I feel more comfortable sitting here in a dai pai dong. There is no restriction, I can talk about childhood or I can smoke here,“ said Lau Yat keung, 61, at a buzzing, tarpaulin covered stall in the working class suburb of Sham Shui Po. „There is no reason to go to those fast food chain restaurants.Young people there think you are out of date.“A few remaining strongholds still serve up homely Cantonese favourites: steaming bowls of noodle soups, strong milk tea, and French toast sandwiched with peanut butter.It’s simple fare that’s easy on the pocket: diners can fill up on a plate of tripe or roast goose with rice for around $7.40, noodles with luncheon meat and egg for just over $4.50, or toast from only $1.50.But the heyday of the dai pai dong is long gone.Following a post war spike as arrivals from mainland China drove up the British colony’s population, concerns over obstructions, nuisance and hygiene grew.Pedestrians crossing a busy crosswalk in Central, Hong Kong. Photo / 123RFThe former government stopped issuing new licences decades ago and heavily restricted permit transfers. Owners were also paid to voluntarily give up their licences.Facing calls for more to be done to preserve the stalls, the government targeted those in the skyscraper encircled Central district five years ago to improve hygiene.http://www.cheapnfljerseysonlinef.top Services were beefed up with the laying of gas and new water pipes, electric cabling and waste water discharge pits, and the road was resurfaced. Owners in turn revamped stalls that swell at lunchtime as dishes roll out of pint sized cooking areas. Restrictions on licence transfers, once to spouses only, were also relaxed.But uncertainty remains elsewhere.“The future of dai pai dong is not optimistic,“ said Tsang Yau lin in Sham Shui Po, whose black and white family photographs show the long history of the business started by her father in the 1950s across the harbour.“In the future two or three years, buildings around here will be destructed and dai pai dong will hold up the interest of some groups. So I think the dai pai dong will be relocated by the government to avoid obstructing construction.“Home to thousands of restaurants from fancy to bare boned, Hong Kong has more than 60 Michelin guide listings and some of the world’s best known chefs have opened up shop.Street Food in China Rice Noodle Soup. Photo / 123RFBut at the tarmac stalls, folding tables and overhead fluorescent strips or bare bulbs are part of the ambience, where fresh razor clams may be put in a bucket on the floor before cooking as someone lights up at the next table.Cooked food centres with off street eateries have sprung up around Hong Kong in multi storeyed buildings that also house fresh goods markets and hawker stalls.But some argue the friendly outdoor dai pai dongs and their roaring woks are a unique part of the city’s history and character and should be conserved.Chong Yuk sik, who wrote a book on their history, believes the government is letting them die out. „I think we should treasure our local culture otherwise we’re just like other cities. How to keep Hong Kong unique? I think dai pai dong is one of the ways,“ she argues.For regulars in the street stalls, the hope is that these colourful eateries will survive the march of modern Hong Kong.Cathay Pacific offers twice daily flights from Auckland direct to Hong Kong. Return Economy fares start from $1565, and Premium Economy from $3105.