Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Postcards from the edge: Part II

Herbs Herbs from the garden, ready to go into the
pork and chestnut stuffing.

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

All Packed up

50g butter
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

Pork, apple and chestnut stuffing Ready for the oven

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.


  1. First comment! Yeay me. Best of luck with the wedding-I KNOW the food will be exquisite. thinking of you


  2. i wish that i were there, dancing the night away, wasting away on the dance floor - when, what ho is this? some sammys and stuffing you say??!! ah, the mouthful of bliss
    this will be one wedding no one will forget!

  3. I love having this wedding in instalmants. I'm not a meaty person but I fancy the idea of those hefty sandwiches, Especially when dancing.

  4. oh how fun to cater for weddings the menu sounds fab and what a great idea to have sandwiches at 10.30pm

  5. Now, listen, you...panic is a word which we will not allow if you're doing things like making up mountains of applesauce. Let me assure you (from a safe distance) that you are entirely prepared, absentee choppers, shanghied sous chefs, or bilous busboys come what may. You are YOU, dear one! How could this wedding be anything BUT fabulous. One whiff of the pig and everyone will be in heaven. Sammies on the side? Au jus? Ye gods! Oh, to be in England, now that Debora's there!

    A HUGE transcontinental HUG,

  6. Debora you must keep breathing - please! And get those roots done. Treat yourself - catch a black cab to the hairdressers and chill for an hour or two, EVEN you can't chop and saute forever! The food is clearly going to be fabulous - lucky Paula and Jack. Do hope Sean is going to take some fab pictures.

    Have a great day
    Avril x

  7. I love cookies for weddings, it's a serene and blissful chaos! Good luck getting organized!! This dish looks great, I love chestnuts with mild meats!

  8. Well???? How did it go? I'm dying to know!

    Love, Karen the Impatient

  9. Wow - this is the way go. Home-cooking catering for a wedding. Lovely. Best wishes to the happy couple and the guests. I have no doubt that your cooking will add warmth and heart to the whole event. Brilliant!

    (and hope you caught that black cab too!)

  10. yes, lovey, how did it all go? or did they decide to elope at the last minute, forcing you and sean to reenact the fabulous "day" again for yourselves, and party like it was 1984?

  11. Hello all,

    Sorry for the delay in my updates and thank you all for your encouraging, supportive and downright marvellous comments. It was WONDERFUL, pure joy, lovely to cook for such fabulous people. Back to normal now, so expect lots more regular updates!


  12. i wish with all my heart that i was a yarnabout, lazing and dazing the world by day, arting out in fibers by night
    when you have the time and energy, you are a pauper (me currently, desperate to find hospitable work)
    when you work, you have to pay the piper, the land lord, keep regular hours (ehat!!)
    if i ever do have a airline ticket in hand for your part of the globe
    rest assured, we will be having coffee and tartes and i will be a knit guerilla in the neighborhood of your choice!

  13. Oh, what a blissful thought that is. We need you. Our local council has just painted over an enormous stencil by Banksy, the street artist, which satirised the royal family and covered the whole end wall of a house. It was much loved by the residents of Stoke Newington and has appeared on album covers, in movies and, above all, used to make me smile every day as I walked Barney home from the park. Their reasoning? A war on grafitti. And yet tedious tags blossom untouched all over the bloody place...


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