Nigel Slater's classic sage and onion stuffing recipe

For some, there is only one stuffing for Sunday lunch, and it does for chicken, pork and game. The sad thing is the demise of the handmade, herb-scented accompaniment to meat and its replacement by packet stuffing.


Soften 2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped in 30g butter over a low heat. Once the onions are pale gold, remove them from the heat and stir in 6 finely chopped sage leaves, a handful of coarsely chopped parsley, 250g coarse, fresh white breadcrumbs, 400g herby pork sausagemeat and 1 large egg, and season generously with salt and black pepper. Pack into a small baking dish and bake for 30-45 minutes at 180C/gas mark 4, until the top is crisp, or roll into balls and cook round the roast.


Throw the Paxo out of the window. Use fresh, coarsely ground breadcrumbs rather than stale. It gives a lighter, more open texture. Keep the ingredients in large pieces, nothing too fine – it keeps the texture more interesting. Packing a bird tightly full of stuffing can lead to it not cooking through (a health hazard), so some prefer to cook it separately. Go easy on the sage – it's a bully of a herb. To keep it light and open, don't pack the mixture down in the tin.


Walnuts, chopped prunes, apricots, pine kernels, hazelnuts or cranberries can be added to the basic stuffing recipe. Lemon zest is a nice touch. For a crisp finish, roll into balls or patties and cook separately from the meat. For a softer result, cook as a shallow cake in a baking dish.

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