In the countdown to Paula’s wedding on Saturday, I’m going to be cooking at all hours, fuelled by caffeine and panic, stirring as I scribble down essentials needed on our voyage to the country. So there’ll be little time for pretty pictures taken in natural light. But I do hope you’ll keep me company as I chop and sauté late into the night, trying to remember to breathe and wondering when I’ll have time to have my roots done so I don’t look like the oldest caterer in town.
The centrepiece of Paula and Jack’s wedding feast is a lamb and pork roast. Even 130 greedy guests can’t devour a whole sheep and a whole pig in one sitting, so our brilliant bride had the inspired idea to serve hefty sandwiches made up of the leftovers at 10.30pm to fuel enthusiastic dancers, steady the drunk and keep the band on top doh. Of course, Lady de B and I want to make these the best late-night treat any of the guests have ever tasted. We’ve already made a mountain of apple sauce to go with the pork and jars of sparkling mint jelly to accompany the lamb. For the very hungry, we’re making stuffing too, to create sandwiches so generously proportioned, they would make Homer Simpson proud.
This recipe for pork, apple and chestnut stuffing is a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall one. In the interests of full disclosure, I have to confess I work down at River Cottage sometimes, but it is a bloody good multi-purpose stuffing – herby, with a lovely zing from the lemon zest - so I feel no obligation to apologise for my bias. It’s great with Sunday roasts, for Thanksgiving celebrations or Christmas feasts. And weddings, don’t forget weddings.
Pork, apple and chestnut stuffing
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 stems celery, plus leaves if possible, finely chopped
500g pork shoulder, coarsely minced
The liver of the bird you are stuffing (optional), finely chopped
200g peeled, cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
1 large dessert apple, peeled and finely chopped
The finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
150g soft white breadcrumbs
2 tsp each thyme, sage and rosemary, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the onion and celery, season and sweat gently for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time, until soft and translucent. Leave to cool, then combine with the other ingredients for the stuffing. Season well with salt and pepper. Break off a bit and fry it off to taste for seasoning, add a bit more if necessary.
Bake the stuffing in a shallow, lightly buttered dish, or roll it into balls. Cook at 190C/375F/gas mark 5 for 35-45 minutes, depending on thickness, until cooked through.