|feta and sundried tomato |
"This stuff is bloody gorgeous," he said, "I can't stop eating it," as he shovelled another small handful into his mouth. Between chews he offered me a taste. Well there is nothing like a free sample of someone else's stuffing to get the weekend off to a good start and I was in complete agreement with Mr Cramer, the butcher. This stuffing was bloody lovely!
Cooking roast lamb for this Sunday's lunch, I wanted to try to recreate the stuffing I had tasted at the butcher's - which was a mixture of feta cheese, sundried tomatoes and who knows what. I found a stuffing recipe in Leith's Cookery Bible and decided to go ahead with that, without the green peppercorns that they had included (not because I don't like them, merely because I didn't have any).
After unwrapping the joint of lamb, I realised that I had bought a boned leg of lamb rather than the shoulder I had meant to buy. As a result of the way the meat had been butchered, nothing short of a serious bashing was going to make this joint suitable for stuffing. Why ruin a perfectly blameless piece of meat? It was time to turn to Plan B. I do find that having a Plan B in the kitchen is a pretty good policy - although often in my case, having Plans B, C, D and E are a good idea too, even if I can't always find them.
Plan B was to turn the stuffing (which in the Leith's recipe contained three tablespoons of fresh breadcrumbs) into a savoury bread pudding. Plan B was an absolute winner - a mixture of stale bread, feta, sundried tomatoes, a chopped shallot and fresh thyme; it worked beautifully with the roasted lamb (which was roasted in a marinade of garlic, lemon zest and thyme).
I realised that in fact, the whole pudding was really a variation of my Glamorgan Sausages or Boum Boum Sausages. And bloody marvellous too - although next time, I suspect, I shall make little bread pudding balls rather than baking it in a dish. So here's to next time!
Skill level: Easy
½ x loaf of stale rustic-style bread, crusts removed and roughly chopped
a little milk
200g feta cheese
1 x shallot, finely chopped
2 tbsp sundried or mi cuit tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 x egg, lightly whisked.
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
- Remove the crust from the bread and tear or chop into rough chunks. Dampen with a little milk and set aside to allow the milk to moisten the bread.
- Mash the feta cheese with the chopped shallot and sundried tomatoes. Add the fresh thyme.
- Combine the cheese mixture with the bread.
- Add the egg and stir well to combine. Press down on the ingredients to ensure that they are well combined, but if the mixture looks a little dry, then add another splash of milk.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn the mixture into a buttered ovenproof dish. You can either cook this immediately or cover the container with cling film or foil and put a heavy weight on top, (I use a small plate weighted down with tins of bins). This helps to compress the ingredients further. Leave in the fridge to chill overnight. If you do decide to prepare the dish the day before, it will need to be removed from the fridge a good 30 minutes (or more) before cooking, since it will need to be at room temperature.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour - you may need to cover the top with foil if the pudding appears to be browning too quickly.
- Serve as an accompaniment to roast meat - but also delicious with a simple salad.
- You could use a square baking (brownie) tin or for individual portions use dariole moulds or a muffin tin.
- Alternatively, form the stuffing mixture into small balls and gently fry or bake until lightly browned.