Chestnut stuffing balls

Peter Flynn


Stuffing for the turkey is always popular, but it’s trickier to roast a large bird with stuffing in its body cavity because the longer time needed will tend to dry the meat. Instead, we stuff the crop with a traditional bread/herb/sausage-meat recipe, and make these balls as a stand-alone dish, cooked in a mini-muffin tin.

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Makes 24. Serves 😏. Heat your (fan) oven to 180°C. Prep time: 30 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.

The original recipe comes from Hannah Glasse via Delia Smith’s Christmas book (p.192), so it has an 18th century flavour modified by 20th century ingredients. Modern turkeys come with neither neck-skin nor giblets, thanks to some particularly silly marketing myth foisted on the poor farmers or on the pluckers and trussers that people ‘don’t know what to do with them’ — this is no reason for removing them, boys and girls!

So if you don’t have the liver which the original recipe wants, or like me you’ve used it for turkey-liver pâté, just use Irish black and white puddings as we do here. Search Mr Google for images if you’re unfamiliar with these; Spanish morcilla or German Blutwurst or English black pudding would also do (but not the ones with large lumps in). White pudding seems to be an Irish or Scottish thing — like the black variety but without the blood.


  • 30 g butter
  • 1 medium onion | finely chopped
  • 100 g smoked streaky bacon | cut into small lardons
  • 1 small black pudding | chopped
  • 1 small white pudding | chopped
  • 400 g peeled chestnuts | quartered [I use the French ready-peeled vacuum-packed ones]
  • 100 g dried cranberries
  • handful fresh cranberries [as many as the number of stuffing balls you make; see below for calculations]
  • large handful parsley | finely chopped [curly-head, not flat-blade]
  • 1 dsp chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 200 g pork sausage meat [one with at least 85% pork]
  • 1 dsp salt (see tip)
  • 1 dsp white pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a pan and add the onion, frying gently until lightly caramelised. (see tip)

  2. Add the bacon and cook together for 5 minutes.

  3. Put all the remaining ingredients, except the fresh fresh cranberries, into the bowl of a food mixer or processor (not a blender) along with the bacon/onion, and mix on ‘pulse’ for a few seconds at a time. You should aim for a fairly rough texture, so use the plastic blade if your food processor has one, rather than the metal blade: it must not be a purée!

    If you don't have a food processor or it only has a small bowl, chop the puddings and chestnuts smaller, use the biggest bowl you have, a large spoon, and a lot of muscle, and only add the sausage-meat at the end.

  4. Weigh the mix and work out how much to use per ball: it’s easiest if you aim to make as many balls as you have indentations in your muffin tin. I use a mini-muffin tin with 24 holes — this quantity of the recipe makes about 1200 g, which would be two batches at 25 g each ball. You could also use an eight-hole mini loaf tin to make stuffing loaves at 150 g per hole.

  5. Weigh (or guess) and roll the mix into balls, inserting a whole fresh cranberry into the middle of each one from the stash you kept back above. Put each completed ball into a hole in the muffin tin. If you’re using a mini loaf tin, put four fresh cranberries into each one.

  6. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden.


  • Serve with the turkey, and any left over (!) can be put into the turkey pie, or just eaten cold with the sliced meat. A second batch may be called for.


  1. Smith, Delia. Delia Smith’s Christmas, BBC Books Ltd, London, 1990

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