FOOD & DRINK: Weekend Cook

27: Prune and Walnut Stuffing Serves four. Preparation time: 20 minutes
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The Independent Culture
I AM abandoning turkey this year in favour of something richer and darker, either goose or a row of ducklings. This stuffing is exceptionally succulent and moist, perfect for either bird, and it will sit graciously beside a sage and onion stuffing. Just scale it up accordingly, depending on the size of bird. Only one niggle: I find the custom of cooking stuffing separately wholly deplorable. Stuffing's raison d'etre is to soak up the juices as it cooks. Better to have just a small spoonful each than a tasteless, dessicated lump of it.

175 g/6 oz stoned and

soaked prunes

6 tbsp brandy or calvados

50 g/2 oz unsalted butter,

softened

2 shallots, peeled and

finely chopped

3 sticks of celery heart,

finely sliced

40 g/11/2 oz walnuts,

finely ground

3 tbsp chopped parsley

1/3 tsp finely chopped

tarragon

3 tbsp breadcrumbs

Sea salt, black pepper

A squeeze of lemon juice

Place the prunes and brandy in a small saucepan and cook over a medium- low heat until the fruit absorbs all the liquid. Heat half the butter in a small frying-pan and sweat the shallots and celery over a gentle heat for about eight minutes until soft and translucent, without allowing them to colour.

In a bowl, blend the ground walnuts with the remaining butter, using a wooden spoon. Work in the herbs and the breadcrumbs, then add the sweated vegetables. Coarsely chop the prunes and incorporate. Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Stuff your bird as usual, but loosely. Leave enough air in the cavity to circulate and cook the bird from the inside.

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