This is a stuffing from one of my favourite blogs, Hapa Nom Nom which I’ve transformed into individual Pork Sausage Apple Stuffing in Pancetta Cups. It’s an absolute ripper. I knew if I made one big dish of the stuffing for a Christmas Party with my friends, then 20 years of friendship would be destroyed as we fought over who served themselves more than their fair share. So individual cups was a sensible solution!
*** This recipe is part of a Christmas Special where I show you how to make 3 mains and 4 side dishes that take 1.5 hrs to prepare and can be largely made ahead. So this Christmas, you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family! 🙂 ***
Stuffing is not huge in Australia. We know what it is, but it isn’t at the forefront of our minds. However, in the US, stuffing is an art. It’s almost a food group of its own. When you start searching, it’s amazing how many variations there are. And you know what? Most stuffings aren’t actually even in the bird. They’re baked in a separate dish and served on the side. Which makes perfect sense because you get more crunchy brown bits!
“I made these stuffing cups for a Christmas Party recently. Of all the dishes I slaved over, this was the outright winner for the blokes, ladies AND the kids!”
When I saw this Pork Sausage Dressing (PS “Dressing” is technically what stuffing that is not stuffed inside poultry is called!) from Kathleen at Hapa Nom Nom, I pounced on it instantly. Well, to be honest, that is my reaction for most recipes she posts. She continually manages to surprise with unique but totally doable recipes, and always flavours that I know I will love. Every time I see a new recipe from her in my inbox, I instantly think “I want to make that!”.
I can’t talk this stuffing up enough. It is absolutely incredible. It’s salty with a hint of sweetness and tartness from the apple (I think that’s the secret ingredient!), it’s not soggy, just moist enough on the inside and it crisps up beautifully on the outside.
I made some minor variations to Kathleen’s recipe to make it more suitable for pancetta cups – namely cutting the bread slightly smaller and increasing the amount of bread a touch because I didn’t want to risk the bottom of the cups becoming soggy and also to balance out the salt in the pancetta (i.e.. I was concerned the mixture might be slightly too salty so by increasing the bread it decreased the overall saltiness a touch).
These are fabulous made ahead! Kathleen is right – the flavour melds together even more if you make them the day before. The pancetta cups crisp up wonderfully when you reheat them, as does the top.
Honestly, my idea of a perfect Christmas spread would just be a table covered with these. They were that good. 🙂
STUFF yourself with these stuffing cups! – Nagi
Easy, Stress Free Seven Course Christmas Menu (1.5 hr prep)
You can read about this menu here, including a step by step of the order in which I prepared, baked, reheated and plated up each dish. I made all these dishes (with the exception of the cabbage salad) for a Christmas Party with my friends and these are photos of the actual dishes that I took to the party. I’m sharing this in the hope that it might inspire your Christmas menu!
- Easy Maple Sticky Glazed Ham (15 min prep, 1 – 1 1/2 hrs inactive baking, can be made ahead)
- Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast (5 min prep, then set and forget, reheats well but best slow cooked overnight on the night before serving)
- Festive Duck with Apple Cider Drizzle (5 min prep, 1 1/2 hr inactive baking, reheats very well)
- This Pork Apple Stuffing in Pancetta Cups (20 min prep and worth every second. Reheats extremely well)
- Julia Child’s Potato Dauphinoise Gratin (15 min prep, 45 min baking, reheats very well)
- Red, Green and White Christmas Salad (10 minutes prep)
- Warm Red Cabbage and Spinach with Garlic Herb Butter (10 minutes prep)
- 16 slices of pancetta , around 12cm/5" in diameter (so it fits the muffin tin nicely)
- 1 lb / 500g Italian pork sausage , casings removed (Note 1)
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 small onion , finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk , thinly sliced
- 1 granny smith apple , skin on, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup almonds , roughly chopped (note: original recipe called for pecans which I didn't have)
- 5 cups slightly stale white bread , cut into 1/3" / 1cm cubes (Notes 2 & 3)
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock/broth (or turkey)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (not whipped)
- 1 tsp fresh sage , finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried sage)
- 1 tsp fresh thyme , finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large egg , lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350F/180C with the oven rack in the middle.
Get 2 muffin trays and partially stack them so you have 16 muffin holes and the "joined" muffin tins will fit on one shelf (Note 4).
Line the holes with pancetta.
Heat a large fry pan over high heat. Add the pork sausage and cook it, breaking up the meat as you go. Cook until the sausage changes from pink to light brown and some of the bits starts to brown - about 5 minutes.
Remove the sausage into a bowl and drain the excess fat.
Return the pan to the stove and reduce the heat to medium high. Add the butter, and once melted, add the onion and celery. Sauté for around 3 minutes until the onion is translucent.
Add the apple and almonds, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 minutes.
Remove the fry pan from the stove. Add the bread and gently stir to combine.
Add the chicken stock/broth, cream, sage and thyme and sit to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the egg and stir until mixed through.
Divide the mixture between the 16 pancetta cups.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving.
To make ahead, transfer to a cooling rack. Cover and refrigerate until required. Then reheat in a 180C/350C preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes until the pancetta and top is crispy.
1. The original recipe called for pork sausages. In Australia, depending on where you get the sausages, the quality varies. For a more consistent standard of sausages, Italian sausages are the best to get. As long as you get decent quality ones, they won't be filled out with flour or another starch. The fennel and other flavourings that you often get in Italian sausages will compliment this stuffing very well.
2. Use a good quality loaf like Vienna or cob loaf. This recipe is not suited to supermarket sandwich bread - it becomes too soggy. It is also not suited to sourdough because then there will be a slight sour flavour.
3. The bread should be slightly but not rock-hard stale. Kathleen recommends cutting it into cubes and leaving it overnight on the counter, uncovered, spread on a tray. I cut it into cubes, put it into a cold oven, turned it on to 180C/350F, then turned it off after 5 minutes and left the bread in there for 15 minutes or so while I got on with the rest of the recipe. This worked perfectly.
4. Partially stack one muffin tin on top of the other so only 4 muffin cups of the muffin tin on the bottom are showing. This way you will fit both muffin tins on one shelf of a standard size oven.
5. Nutrition per serving.