to get a right stuffing – to be beaten or defeated in a very one-sided way. There was a rugby match last weekend. England vs Fiji, and England won, 58-15. We can therefore say “Fiji got a right stuffing”. But out of respect to Fiji we should also mention that they did win the Olympic Gold Medal.
Now, Nicer Kate will also have you think that “stuffing” can be used as a metaphor for sex. Because I am much purer of mind, and just much sweeter in general, I personally don’t use it this way, but Nicer Kate (from now on to be known as Bawdy¹ Kate) swears it’s true.
Stuffing is a longstanding accompaniment for roasted birds and is usually a seasoned mix of the following: bread (pretty much always there), sausage meat or nuts, herbs, fruits and vegetables. Traditionally it was “stuffed” inside the body of the roasting animal, and then eaten alongside it, although these days it is also cooked separately in little balls, by people who have a bigger oven and more patience than I do. In any case, it goes way back. Even the Romans knew all about stuffing: go to Apicius’ De Re Coquinaria, (Book 8, Chapter 9) and you’ll find a very useful recipe for stuffing a dormouse.*
Up until about the 16th century, stuffing** in England was known as farce. This comes from the Latin farcire (which, unsurprisingly, means to stuff) but these days a farce is either a theatrical comedy, or a situation that is so damn stupid that we can’t believe it is happening. “The fact that Donald Trump could be elected as President of the United States is just bloody farcical.” (That is a very good example but Nicer Kate / Bawdy Kate doesn’t want me to keep banging on² about Trump so I’ve put it in smaller font in the hope that she won’t notice) [I did. If Hillary can come to terms with it, Kayte, so should you – Ed]. Farce came to be used to describe the impromptu comedy that French actors were supposed to use to pad out ( i.e. stuff) religious dramas, which were otherwise a bit of a bore.
Getting back to the food, Nicer Kate made some stuffing the other day which Dominic and I thought was the best we’d ever eaten. It truly was. In a thoughtless moment, I mentioned this to my husband, who had to remind me with a very serious expression that it could only be the second best stuffing I’ve ever eaten, because the best stuffing is the one he makes, in his once a year cooking extravaganza which always falls on Christmas Day. And so here is the recipe. It’s definitely yours, darling. It is.
- 25g butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 small leek, washed and sliced finely
- 450g Cumberland sausage meat
- 50g white breadcrumbs
- 50g dried cranberries
- 50g toasted, chopped hazelnuts
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and leek and cook gently for about 10 mins, until both are translucent and soft
- Mix the remaining ingredients together and mix well.
- If stuffing the turkey, allow to cool and stuff the neck end ONLY (never put meat inside the turkey cavity – you’ll make yourself ill.
- If baking separately, spread stuffing out in a baking tray and bake at gas 5/170 for 30 mins, until crisp on the outside.
1 – bawdy – indecent, rude, saucy; dealing with sexual matters in a comical way
2 – to bang on about something – to keep talking about the same thing; to go on and on about something
*The word used in De Re Coquinaria is glires which a Clever Friend says is something closer to a fat rat living in a tree, than the terribly cute dormouse we know today.
** And apparently the Americans call it dressing. Which is almost as odd as the way they say “herbs”, with a silent ‘h’.