Food: Apricot and pistachio stuffing balls with maple cranberry dip

 
Apricot and pistachio stuffing balls
Apricot and pistachio stuffing balls

In my childhood home we have stuffing eating competitions on Christmas day. This is a tradition frowned upon by my husband and one I very dearly hope I'll be able to pass on to my boys. I adore stuffing - I could forego the rest of the main course. Just give me stuffing and some gravy and I'll be one happy lady (oh I can hear him now: "No lady would ever eat that much stuffing in one sitting").  So when I was thinking up something new to serve at our mulled wine and mince pies party this weekend I knew I had to do something with stuffing.

This stuffing is a tiny bit more exciting than your average pack of Paxo - which I love by the way. It's full of sweet apricots, fresh lemon, savoury parsley, salty pancetta and has a lovely crunch from some pistachios. To add a sour note I've decided to serve them with my version of cranberry sauce. You could serve both the stuffing and the cranberry sauce alongside your Christmas lunch, but they're equally as tasty as a canapé.

To make my apricot and pistachio stuffing balls you will need:

Apricot and pistachio stuffing balls
Apricot and pistachio stuffing balls

30g butter 1 onion - finely chopped 1 clove of garlic - crushed 140g pancetta (the cubetti) 500g pork mince 1 large egg 3 tbsp fresh parsley - chopped Zest of 1 lemon 50g pistachios - roughly chopped 80g dried apricots - roughly chopped

To make the maple cranberry sauce you will need:

300g fresh cranberries 1/4 cup maple syrup (about 60ml if you don't have a cup measure) 2 heaped tbsp soft brown sugar Zest and juice of one orange 2 tbsp brandy

Method:

Apricot and pistachio stuffing balls
Apricot and pistachio stuffing balls

Pre-heat your oven to 180c. To make the stuffing balls - fry your onions and garlic in the butter until soft and pale golden. Put the pancetta, pork, egg and onion mix into a food processor and pulse to make a rough paste. You'll probably need to scrape down the sides with a spatula a couple of times until it's all mixed up.

Tip the paste into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. The best way to mix it up is with your hands. You can use your spatula but it will take longer. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and set aside.

Apricot and pistachio stuffing balls
Apricot and pistachio stuffing balls

Wipe out the pan you used to cook the onions and drizzle in a little olive oil. Brown the stuffing balls in batches and pop on a lined oven tray. At this point you can freeze the stuffing balls if you like. Simply place them in a box with baking paper between the layers to stop them sticking. When you want to cook them, defrost them and pop them on a try lined with baking paper.

Bake in the pre heated oven for 20 minutes until cooked through.

Maple cranberry sauce
Maple cranberry sauce

To make the maple cranberry sauce - put all the ingredients into a small pan and cook gently for 10 minutes or so until the cranberries pop and you have a glossy sauce. This will keep quite happily in the fridge in an air tight contain for a good week.

Serve them together with some cocktail sticks to aid dipping - and resist the urge to eat them all before your guests arrive.