Turkey, lardo and fennel seed stuffing

I would give up the sprouts, the chestnuts, even the little sausages and bacon of the extended family roast rather than go without generous amounts of stuffing. It is also the icing on the big fat cake that is Christmas dinner; the bit which, if I am completely honest, I prefer to the meat itself. I made these for supper but they would make an excellent stuffing, too, to be baked around the bird or, more conveniently, in a separate tin. I bought the lardo – the silky white fat that is such a treat served on rough toast with a trickle of olive oil and some crumbled rosemary – from an Italian grocer’s. It’s not difficult to track down. Buy it in a block so you can grate it. Failing that, get it in thin slices and chop them finely. The gorgeous fat will melt and moisten the turkey meat, which has no real fat of its own.


2 teaspoons fennel seeds

500g minced turkey

2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes

60g dried breadcrumbs

150g lardo

2 tablespoons olive oil


3 heaped tablespoons cranberry jelly or sauce 50ml orange juice

2 teaspoons orange zest

100g cranberries, fresh or frozen

  • Toast the fennel seeds for a couple of minutes in a dry frying pan, then tip them into a large mixing bowl. Put the turkey mince, chilli flakes and breadcrumbs in the bowl, then coarsely grate in the lardo. Season generously with both salt and black pepper, then mix thoroughly.
  • Shape the stuffing mixture into 8 large balls, then place them on a tray and refrigerate for 25 minutes. Set the oven at 180C/gas 4.
  • To make the sauce, put the cranberry jelly or sauce into a small saucepan and place over a moderate heat, then add the orange juice and zest and the cranberries and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat so the mixture simmers gently and leave for five or six minutes, until the berries have softened a little. You should be able to squash them easily between thumb and forefinger. Remove from the heat and leave to settle.
  • Warm the olive oil in a shallow pan and fry the stuffing balls, moving them round as each side browns, until they are golden brown all over.
  • Transfer the balls to a baking dish, sitting them snugly together, then spoon over the cranberry sauce. Bake for 30 minutes.


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