Friday, December 12, 2014

Mini Christmas Stuffing Bites with Prunes & Armagnac

A traditional stuffing, richly seasoned with armagnac soaked prunes, dried apricots, sage and aromatics, can be baked into individual ramekins or muffin tins for a creative and delicious Christmas-time treat. The remarkable presentation of this amazingly simple seasonal dish can be customized with your own favourite stuffing recipe, for a quick and easy single-portion side dish that's a succulent addition to any winter roast. It's also a clever way to reinvent leftover stuffing with just an egg and little stock to moisten and mound in well buttered muffin tin. Bung it in the oven for 25 minutes and voilà — crisp on the outside, moist in the middle and packed full of yuletide flavour.

Mini Christmas Stuffing Bites with Apricot, Prune, Sage & Armagnac 
Makes 16-20

1 cup pitted dried prunes, halved
1 cup pitted dried apricots, halved
1 cup Armagnac
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
8 cups cubed day-old French bread
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh sage
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Soak the prunes in the Armagnac for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously grease muffin tins or mini ramekins with butter. In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic, celery and onion until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the bread and toss well. Then add the chopped parsley and sage. Drain the prunes, reserving the armagnac. Coarsely chop the prunes and apricots, then add them to the stuffing, along with the armagnac. Add the beaten eggs and chicken broth, and mix well to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little more stock a spoonful at a time until moist, then let stand 5 minutes. 

Using a spoon, transfer heaping mounds of stuffing into each muffin cup, making sure that the mixture is tightly packed so the stuffing holds together and doesn’t fall apart. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the tops are browned. To remove, use a small knife to loosen the outer edge of each muffin and then gently lift out, and serve warm with your favourite roast.