Bacon and cranberry stuffing is crusty golden brown on the outside and moist and savoury on the inside. Call it stuffing or dressing, either way you’ll end up with individual balls of deliciousness with just enough toasty crunchy bits to satisfy everyone, and let’s face it that’s the best part.
Prepare and freeze these ahead of time for Thanksgiving or Christmas and it’s one off your long list of dishes to prepare.
These savoury balls are super easy to make. You begin by sautéing off the onion, celery and garlic in what seems like way too much butter till they’re on their way to softening and then add your bacon and cook it until the bacon fat has rendered and added its smoky goodness into the mix.
Next up prepare your breadcrumbs and add in all the goodies that will really make this stuffing pop. Moist dried cranberries, toasted pecan nuts, orange zest for its lovely perfume, sage for its sweet citrus notes, and eggs to bind it all together.
When it comes to stuffing, we want dryish bread—bread that will absorb the maximum amount of flavourful butter, bacon fat and seasonings. But not so dry as to be hard, we’re just trying to remove some of the moisture to be replaced with the butter, bacon fat and eggs.
The good news is, drying is a whole lot faster and easier than forgetting to leave your bread on the bench for 2 days. Pop your bread in the oven instead.
Next we roughly tear the bread and pop it into a food processor in small amounts and blitz till you have random large and smaller pieces. This gives the stuffing a lovely chewy texture.
We’ve used a white sourdough loaf that we sliced and popped into a preheated oven at 185c (365f) oven for 10 minutes to dry it out a little.
Use streaky bacon rather than whole rashers as streaky bacon is cut from the pork belly which is one of the fattiest parts of the pig, whereby rashers are cut from the leaner loin. Fat equals flavour!
Egg acts as the binding agent to keep the stuffing together. When you add the sautéed onion and bacon mixture you’ll be adding all of that lovely rendered fat and butter to moisten the bread crumbs. If you find that the mixture is still a little dry go ahead and add some water or stock by the tablespoon till the mixture will hold together.
When shaping the stuffing balls use a light hand to keep the stuffing airy and don’t compress the ball too hard otherwise your stuffing will be too dense.
Ring the changes
When making your stuffing think about all of the glorious flavours that you could add to make it your own. Swap out the pecan nuts for walnuts, pine nuts or almonds. Raisins, dried apricots or prunes would work just as well.
Baking the bacon and cranberry stuffing
Make sure that you use butter rather than oil to grease your muffin tins for the purposes of getting the sides and bottom all golden and crispy.
One of the biggest things when getting your holiday feast ready is to prepare ahead and these bacon and cranberry stuffing balls can be frozen raw, then popped into the refrigerator to thaw the day before you want to bake and serve them. Too easy!
Watch How To Make Bacon and Cranberry Stuffing
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These large muffin tin stuffing balls are super easy to make. When baked they’re golden brown with all the outside bread all crispy and golden, and the centre soft and very flavoursome.
Make them ahead and freeze them before baking.
- 250g (9 ounces) streaky bacon, chopped into small pieces
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
- 100g (3 1/2 ounces) butter, plus a little extra to butter the muffin tin
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups bread crumbs – see notes above
- 2 large whole eggs
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pecan nuts, toasted and chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- 1 heaped tablespoon orange zest, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- preheat oven to 185c (365f)
- melt butter in a large frypan and add onion, celery and garlic and saute on medium heat for 5 minutes
- add bacon and continue to sauté for a further 5 minutes until onion and celery is softened and bacon starts to colour
- remove frypan from heat and allow to cool
- place breadcrumbs, orange zest, sage, salt, pepper, cranberries, pecans, bacon mixture, eggs and give it all a really good mix (you may have to add a tablespoon or two of cold water) so that the mixture will hold together but you definitely don’t want a wet mixture
- brush muffin tin with melted butter
- lightly make a large ball the size of your muffin tin without squeezing the mixture too hard
- bake on middle shelf for 30 minutes till the balls are golden brown and crispy
- serve and enjoy!
- mixture can be made ahead, shaped into balls and frozen
- thaw balls in the refrigerator the day before you need to bake them
- Category: baking
- Method: oven baked
- Cuisine: Australian
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