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James Street South Cookery School: Get ahead with Niall's stuffing and Christmas pud

Sage and onion stuffing – I cook mine separately rather than stuffing in the turkey

THE countdown is on and this week we are going to cook off a couple of things to have ready in plenty of time for Christmas Day. Our recipes are two very important parts of our Christmas dinner: sage and onion stuffing and Christmas pudding for that special moment after the main meal.

Getting these things out of the way enables you to focus on the main event of the turkey and ham on the day and, of course, enjoy all the festive fun with the family. Once you get the hang of these recipes, you can keep them for years to come and really make them your own at Christmas time.

SAGE AND ONION STUFFING

4 onions, diced finely

10 fresh sage leaves

50g butter

250g breadcrumbs

250g sausage meat (optional)

2 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper

Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in butter on medium heat until soft, for about 10 minutes. Add the sausage meat and cook out for another 10 minutes until thoroughly cooked. Add in the breadcrumbs – the best way to do breadcrumbs is put in a blender and mix up.

Add the sage to the mixture and season with salt and pepper. I always roll my stuffing into little round balls rather than stuff into the cavity of the turkey. Place on a greased tray and put in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes.

INDIVIDUAL CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS

(Serves 8)

250g sultanas

250g raisins

250g currants

3 tbsp brandy

Zest and juice of 2 oranges

2 tsp mixed spice

50g almonds, chopped

200g light brown sugar

100g butter, softened

2 large eggs, beaten

75g fresh white breadcrumbs

75g plain flour

Place the sultanas, raisins and currants in a large bowl and pour over brandy; add the orange zest and juice, mix well and cover. Leave overnight for the mixture to absorb.

Add the remaining ingredients and beat until well combined. Grease eight 175ml pudding basins and then line with a disc of greaseproof paper. Divide the pudding mix between the individual basins. Cover the top of each pudding basin with a buttered piece of tinfoil and place butter side down on each pudding basin. Finally, tie each with piece of string so no steam can escape.

Arrange the basins in the base of a steamer and place on top of a saucepan filled with water. Bring the water to the boil and simmer for 2.5 hours. Check the water regularly and top up as necessary.

When the puddings are finished cooking, remove the tinfoil and replace with a new piece of foil. These can then be stored in the fridge or frozen. To serve, you simply need to steam again for up to 90 minutes until piping hot and serve with a brandy cream.

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