Chapter 8: Stuffings, Sauces & Preserves – Completed!

Well folks, another full chapter is complete!

This was a bit of an odds-and-ends one which was full of revelations for me because it covered a large area of cookery even most chefs don’t bother with these days.
#272 Melted Butter

It’s rather difficult to reflect upon what Jane thought directly, because Chapter 8 is the only one that does not benefit from a written introduction. It was obviously an important area for her though, as she really looks towards under-used ingredients and uses a variety of techniques, so it’s well worth having a look through yourself.
#343 Oyster Stuffing
I – unsurprisingly – split the chapter into the following sections:
8.1: Stuffings (5 recipes)
8.2: Sauces (19 recipes)
8.3: Preserves (21 recipes)
Giving a total of 35 recipes. Click on the hyperlinks to see my review of the individual sections.
The chapter scored an overall mean of 7.6, the highest score so far for a completed chapter, fuelled by three recipes receiving top marks and a lack of total disasters. For those who care (and I know none of you do), here’s a little bar chart showing the mean scores for the chapter as a whole and as separate sections with standard deviation bars.
The five Stuffingrecipes are absolutely delicious, with #343 Oyster Stuffing being one of the most delicious things I have ever made. Growing up in a Paxo household meant I simply did not know how good a simple stuffing could be.

The Sauceswere diverse and delicious, the simplest – #306 Mint Sauce – being the best, but there are other great recipes, such as #272 Melted Butter and #432 White Devil Sauce.

#109 Quince Comfits
There’s a huge variety in the Preservessection too, with Jane avoiding the obvious things like raspberry jam. Instead she uses ingredients like cornel cherries, medlars and sorbs, so you can make preserves you are very unlikely to find in any store or farmers’ market. There is variety too in the types of preserves; jams, jellies, chutneys, sugars, comfits, candies and liqueurs all make an appearance. #397 Herb Jelly is one of my favourites, as is #46 Rich Orangeade, and I have never found a better, or more simple, (#24) Seville Orange Marmalade recipe.

8.1 Stuffings – completed!

Everyone loves some good stuffing – I obviously do because I have come to the end of the Stuffings bit of chapter 8: Stuffings, Sauces and Preserves. It’s not that impressive as there are only 5 recipes and one of those was a sauce. Nevertheless it is the first section that I have finished so I thought I’d give a little reminder and a review. Here are the recipes in the order they appear in the book, with their scores:


Winners: Oyster Sauce and Oyster Stuffing
That’s a pretty good average of 8.9/10 overall, so really do like stuffing! That’s the last stuffing-related double entendre, I promise.

I have to admit, I had never made my own stuffing before for roast meats. I always just used to use a lemon and some herbs to impart flavour into the meat, but now I am a total convert. The oyster stuffing with its accompanying sauce was the highlight of the five; it is so delicious, however with my fast-approaching return to England hot on my heels, I don’t think I’ll be able to afford to make again any time soon. Hey-ho – at least I got the opportunity.
Stuffing the Guard of Honour

The most versatile of the stuffings, at least according to Jane herself, is the Herb Stuffing; she uses it in three other recipes: #305 Guard of Honour, #263 Stuffed Tomatoes and Veal Rolls (not done that one yet!). Certainly that and the Hazelnut Stuffing are used by me every now and again. I have never revisited Parsley and Lemon Stuffing though.

The very strange Hindle Wakes
Although this section only has technically four recipes, don’t be thinking Jane had no repertoire – oh no – there are several dishes that include stuffings not mentioned above, some glorious like the amazing #175 Shoulder of Lamb with Rice and Apricot Stuffing and the frankly strange, like #339 Hindle Wakes (though I have to say I did bake excess stuffing rolled into balls which were pretty good).
So the good lady Grigson opened my eyes to homemade stuffing, but then I realised there were a couple of glaringly obvious omissions. When I think of British stuffing the first that pops into my brain is sage and onion stuffing. I can’t believe it’s left out. Perhaps Jane was mortified so much by the instant Paxo stuffing that we have all eaten at one time or another (I confess to love it!) that she ignored it on purpose. I bet actual real sage and onion stuffing is delicious though I have not even knowingly eaten it. Also, all the stuffings in the Stuffings section are bread-based. Where are all the delicious sausage meat ones? I know they can be heavy, and I am sure they regularly get undercooked in the centre of that Christmas turkey, but I think they are delicious – especially when cooked separately in a tray or as stuffing balls.
I shall rectify this on my other blog, British Food: A History, by finding good recipes for these (and the best stuffing ones from English Food too).

Well I may have finished this bit of the book, but there are still plenty left to go…

Other recipes using stuffing:
#262 Chestnuts as a Vegetable  (can be used as a stuffing)

#343 Oyster Stuffing and #344 Oyster Sauce

Oysters are rather expensive in the UK and it can be a rather arduous task shucking them, though in the US, they are much cheaper and often come in tubs preshucked in their own liquor ready for cooking. It is for these reasons that I have been trying to finish all the recipes in English Food that include oysters before I return to England in a little over a month’s time. These two are the final oyster recipes. Not only that, by cooking these recipes I have completed the Stuffings section of the Stuffings, Sauces & Preserves chapter. This might sound impressive, but if you clicked on the link, you’ll have seen that there were only five in the section, and one of those was a sauce!

These are two recipes that were made very popular during the Victorian era that put together shellfish and meat. I have grown to love this combination and so I was looking forward to cooking these. Past recipes on this vein are Chicken with Mussels, Beefsteak Stewed with Oysters as well as the classic Steak, Kidney and Oyster Pudding (and pie!).

I’m not going to blog the two individually because they cannot really be made separately. The first is a light stuffing made with classic stuffing ingredients like breadcrumbs and suet. The second is a simple béchamel sauce flavoured with liquor collected from the oysters used for the stuffing.

The quantities in the recipe are for a large turkey and it requires rather a lot of oysters – 4 to 5 dozen! You can halve the number if you are using the big Atlantic ones; it’s the equivalent to 2 tubs of the preshucked ones you see in supermarkets in the US.

If you do have to shuck your own, I have heard of a method that takes the pain out of it, though I have never tested it myself. Apparently, if you put your cleaned oysters in the freezer flat side facing up, they should magically open their shells after 10 minutes or so. The reason for this is that they go to sleep and relax their strong adductor muscle which you usually have to fight against with the shucking knife when you open them manually.

#343 Oyster Stuffing for Turkey and Other Poultry

Grigson says you can halve the quantities if using a large chicken, which is what I did. Even then, I found I still had plenty left over so I cooked it separately in an ovenproof dish.

First of all shuck 2 or 3 dozen oysters should you need to; do it over a sieve in a bowl so you can save the liquor for the oyster sauce. Chop the oysters, keeping the pieces large. Mix them into the other stuffing ingredients: 10 ounces of white breadcrumbs made from stale bread, 5 ounces of suet, 2 heaped tablespoons of parsley, the grated rind of a lemon, 2 heaped teaspoons of thyme, ¼ teaspoon of both nutmeg and mace, a good pinch of Cayenne pepper, 2 large beaten eggs, salt and pepper. It is important to mix these together rather loosely; there should be no dry breadcrumbs but at the same time it should not be mixed into to big ball of stodge.

Stuff the cavity of your poultry rather loosely – it will expand as it cooks – and truss the legs with some string. Also stuff it into the neck end too, if the flap of neck skin has been left on your bird, securing it with a couple of short skewers (I have noticed that the neck skin is usually removed in America). Any left over can be baked for thirty minutes in an ovenproof dish.

Roast the bird as normal, taking the total weight including stuffing when calculating the roasting time.

#344 Oyster Sauce

Open 2 dozen oysters, saving the liquor. Make a béchamel sauce by melting 2 ounces of butter in a saucepan then stir in two tablespoons of flour. Mix together with a wooden spoon to make a roux and cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes. This is a white roux, so don’t let it colour. Add ½ pint of milk in 3 or 4 parts, stirring until the milk is absorbed and the roux smooth before adding more, then stir in ¼ pint of double cream and the reserved oyster liquor from the sauce and stuffing. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring everyone now and again. This part could be done in advance if you need – make sure you cover the pan with a lid because a thick skin will quickly grow. Chop the oysters into good sized pieces and add them to the sauce. Heat through then season with salt, white pepper, grated nutmeg, Cayenne pepper and lemon juice. The sauce should be the ‘consistency of double cream’, says Griggers.

FYI: Mrs Beeton suggests using left-over oyster sauce in a fish pie which I think is a marvellous idea.

#343 Oyster Stuffing for Turkey and Other Poultry. This was amazing – the oysters were tender and the stuffing was light, the flavour being lifted by the fresh herbs and the aromatic lemon zest.

#344 Oyster Sauce. This was a beautiful white and well-flavoured sauce mildly spiced with a wonderful iodine tang from all that oyster liquor. Absolutely delicious.

I can’t score these separately as they would never be made separately; that said this one is a no-brainer: 10/10.

#277 Hazelnut Stuffing for Poultry and Lamb

I mentioned in the last post that people don’t make their own gravy anymore, well the same goes for stuffing. I have to admit, I don’t often make stuffing for roast poultry normally, though I have for the blog before. Every time I do, it comes out delicious and is always better than even the poshest pre-made supermarket pap. So I thought I was well overdue making some (which I think is also called dressing in the USA, non..?).
This one, I thought looked interesting – with its earthy hazelnuts and piquant-sweet preserved ginger; just the thing for a climate that is never really wintry. After all, the main reason that I haven’t cooked more food like this in Houston is because it is so bloody hot all the time and I don’t necessarily want roast meats. Anyways, this one seemed good and light and reasonably summery.
Griggers makes a point of highlighting the quality of hazelnut required for the recipe – pre-roasted and chopped hazelnuts are fine, she says, but you really want some slow roasted whole Italian ones from Avellino near Vesuvius, where they have been grown since Roman times. I’ll just pop over and fetch some. I couldn’t get those of course, but I did get Roman ones, so that pretty good I reckon, bearing in mind where I am!

Julian of Norwich with Hazelnut. For some reason.
If you want to be truly old-school, you can use cobnuts, which can still be found growing around the southern counties of England, in particular Kent. FYI: cobnuts were the original nut used in the game of conkers before the horse chestnut was introduced into Britain.
Stuffing is the easiest thing in the world to make. To start chop a large onions and soften it in two ounces of butter – keep it on a medium heat with a lid to prevent to browning. Once cooked, add the following ingredients in the following order: four ounces of fresh breadcrumbs; two ounces of toasted, chopped hazelnuts; four knobs of preserved ginger*, chopped; grated rind of half a lemon; the juice of a lemon; one large beaten egg; salt and pepper; and two tablespoons of chopped parsley. Now you can use the stuffing for whatever you like. If this is for turkey, you may need to double, or even treble the amounts given here.
If you are using it to stuff a bird, make sure you weigh it after it has been stuffed so you can include the extra weight in the cooking time.  Also, it is best to stuff the neck end rather than the cavity, as the stuffing doesn’t go stodgy; just loosen the skin and stuff it in, securing it all by folding the neck skin under the bird. Any left can go into the cavity – but only pack it loosely.

*If you can’t get preserved ginger then use ginger preserve (i.e. ginger jam), or miss it out entirely and replace it with the chopped liver of the bird(s) and a heaped teaspoon of thyme.

#277 Hazelnut Stuffing for Poultry and Lamb. Absolutely delicious and definitely the best stuffing so far in the book! It was sweet and earthy and the nuts had gone wonderfully soft and translucent, giving out their flavours into the rest of the mixture. The lemon and ginger lifted it all very well and stopped it from being too heavy. This is going into my everyday repertoire. 9/10.

#171 Herb Stuffing

I have been trying to address an FAQ recently: “how far through the book are you?” I have been a right old geek and calculated it on a spreadsheet! Unfortunately I can’t work out how to put a table into Blogger and I’m no good with html script. If anybody reading this knows how to do a table please leave a comment. I did notice that I have not paid much attention to the Stuffings section, having done the Parsley and Lemon Stuffing at Christmastime. I went for this herb stuffing for two main reasons: firstly, Grigson uses this stuffing in many other recipes; and secondly, I had all the ingredients. I wanted to judge it in its own right and not part of another recipe, so I made it and used it to stuff a roast chicken for Sunday dinner.

By the way: There is no method for roasting a chicken (or goose for that matter) in English Food, so I went for the method normally used: 20 minutes a pound plus an extra 20 minutes at 200°C. Make sure when you calculate the cooking time, you weight the chicken after you’ve stuffed it. Place the chicken in a roasting tin, rub in plenty of butter into the skin and season well. Cover with foil and baste every half an hour. Remove foil for final 30 minutes and baste every 15 minutes until cooked. Leave to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Anyway, back to the stuffing: Gently fry a chopped medium onion in 2 ounces of butter until nicely soft and golden and pour the contents including juices into a mixing bowl. Now add 2 ounces of chopped ham or bacon (I went with the latter; black bacon from the Cheshire Smokehouse), a tablespoon of chopped parsley, a tablespoon of chopped thyme, 4 ounces of breadcrumbs, and egg, an egg yolk and finally a seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir well and use it however you like: stuff poultry, veal, rabbit or tomatoes, or even roll into balls and bake on a tray in the oven.


#171 Herb Stuffing – 9/10. Absolutely delicious! Such a massive return for such little effort. It is really full of flavour; it is very important that you use good ham or bacon and fresh herbs for this as they should be the dominant flavours. There’ll be no Paxo in my house ever again! If you are doing a roast chicken dinner, give it a try – you will not be disappointed.

#101 Parsley and Lemon Stuffing

A turkey wouldn’t be a turkey without stuffing. This is the one Griggers suggests to have with turkey. It contains no sausagemeat, so it’s quite light and the lemon and parsley flavour cuts through the richness of all the other roast items on your Christmas dinner. It’s also choc-full of butter, so it helps keep the turkey nice and succulent.


Begin by cutting the crusts off a large white loaf of bread and blitz it in a food processor until it becomes crumbs. Lay the crumbs on a large baking tray and allow them to dry out in a cool oven – you don’t want them to brown so 80ºC will be enough. Weight out 8 ounces of the crumbs (freeze the rest) and put in a large bowl and mix in the zest of two lemons and the juice of one, a bunch of chopped parsley, a teaspoon of chopped thyme, a teaspoon of dried marjoram, 8 ounces of creamed butter, 3 eggs and a good seasoning. Mix the ingredients with your hands and stuff the main cavity of the turkey with it. You probably won’t use it all, so freeze the rest in balls so you can put them in the cavity of chickens for your Sunday Roast.

#101 Parsley and Lemon Stuffing – 7/10. A nice fresh and light tasting stuffing. I reckon it’ll go better with chicken than with turkey.