The basis of most shop-bought stuffing is bread-crumbs. This of course is a problem for those on a yeast-free protocol, and means that if you want to enjoy this extra treat at Christmas, you simply have to make it yourself. However, this really isn’t hard, and it can easily be made in advance. I usually roll the stuffing into balls and freeze in a small baking tray, so all I have to do on Christmas day is to take it out of the freezer first thing in the morning and then pop into the oven about 45 minutes before it is time to serve.
Erica’s Rice and Chestnut Stuffing found in her Beat Candida Cookbook, is a favourite in our family. If you want to save time, some supermarkets now sell frozen cooked chestnuts, or if you look in the condiment aisle, vacuum packed cooked chestnuts. Do always check the ingredients, as producers have a habit of changing what they put into foods. Tinned chestnuts often seem to have added sugar, so these are not suitable to use, although I have just found that the Merchant Gourmet brand of pureed chestnuts is sugar-free.
The quantities in Erica’s book are quite generous, so I generally use 2 cups of cooked whole grain rice to 2 cups of cooked and peeled chestnuts (or a couple of packs of the Merchant Gourmet vacuum packed chestnuts – £1.99 in Tesco). Make sure the rice is well cooked, to help the stuffing bind together. If you have a food processor, simply throw the rice and chestnuts into the mixer, together with an egg and some freshly ground black pepper. I also add a couple of white onions, finely chopped and ‘steam- fried’ in a pan with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and two tablespoons of water. Add a lid and cook over a low heat until onions are soft. If this is your main stuffing you may want to season with sage, but if you are also preparing a traditional sage and onion stuffing (recipe to follow), you may like to use parsley or chives.
If you are making this without the help of a food processor you will have to finely chop the chestnuts, then stir into the cooked whole-grain rice, then add the cooked onions and other ingredients.You want the mixture to stick together when formed it into walnut-size balls. If the mixture is too crumbly, add another egg. Make into balls and store in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer if making it in advance.