This is a light, spicy and spoonable stuffing. I go for hot Italian sausages here, since it’s the contrast between the sweet, fruited bread and the fieriness of the sausage that I love; but it would work with the milder variety, too. You can’t, however, substitute normal breakfast sausages: the rusk in them would add too much breadiness; that element is elegantly provided already. If you don’t like the dried fruit in the panettone, then go for a tall, round loaf of pandoro instead. In either case, be sure to brush off all the bits of visible sugar from the top. I just slice off the sugar-covered bits.
SERVES 10-16 AS PART OF THE CHRISTMAS FEAST, OR 8-10 IF NOT
500g panettone, cut into 2cm-3cm cubes
2 onions, peeled
3 sticks celery
4 tbsp olive oil
1kg Italian sausages
500ml chicken stock
Salt to taste
Large handful of chopped parsley, plus more to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Lay out the panettone cubes on a large baking sheet, and toast them in the oven for 10 minutes, till they are crisp and golden at the edges. Allow to cool. Obviously, this step can be done well in advance, just be sure to keep the toasted cubes in an airtight container.
- Chop the onions and celery finely, but don’t go so far that you end up with a mush.
- Put 2 tbsp of the oil in to a pan and, when warm, add the celery and onion and cook gently, stirring every now and again, for 10-15 minutes until softened.
- Add the remaining oil to the pan, then squeeze the sausages out of their cases into the pan and squish and turn with a wooden spoon to break up the pieces as much as possible and mix with the onion and celery. Cook the sausagemeat for about 10 minutes, or until the pinkness has left it, stirring regularly with your wooden spoon. You can do everything up till this stage in advance if you like.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 (if it isn’t on already) and grease an ovenproof dish (approx 33cm x 19cm), pretty enough to serve from, put in the toasted panettone cubes and add the sausage, celery and onion: I use my hands to blend everything together well.
- In a bowl whisk the eggs with the stock (adding salt if it isn’t already salty, so taste the stock first) and pour this over the stuffing, leaving it to soak in for 5 minutes or so before baking, uncovered, in the oven for 45 minutes. It will be dark golden and crisp on top, eggily soft – but utterly firm – underneath.
- Sprinkle with parsley and use a large spoon to serve.
MAKE AHEAD Make the sausagemeat and celery mixture. Cool, cover and keep in the fridge for up to two days. Toast the panettone cubes and store in an airtight bag or container for up to 1 week. Finish with the eggs and stock, as directed, when ready to use.
Food styling: Emily Kidd. Prop styling: Luis Peral. Photo assistant & retouching: Sophie Bronze. Food styling assistant: Susanna Unsworth. Recipes taken from Nigella Express, At My Table, Feast, Simply Nigella, Nigella Christmas, Cook Eat Repeat. For more, visit nigella.com.