“ Brand: Paxo / Type: Baking Aid „
Despite certain celebrity chefs' recent exhortations to the general TV viewing public for them to 'not to bother having nasty pre-made stuffing balls with your Christmas lunch' I quite like stuffing balls made from the nasty pre-mix stuff, myself. (And if you go down the listening-to-TV-chefs road too far, soon you'll no doubt find they'll be advising everyone not to have a roast dinner at all, because 'that's not what they ate in Palestine in 25 AD, actually,' next).
So until quite recently with pre-mixed stuffing I always used to buy the cheap stuff - sometimes even the 'value' 16p a box brands - as I didn't really see much difference between the different types - but then a series of unfortunate roast dinners incorporating Tesco's in-house pre-mixed sage & onion stuffing - that when made up and cooked featured a dinner of herbs too bitter and inedible to be consumed - and I developed some brand allegiances. To Paxo, which is the popular market leader for this kind of product, of course. Because if you're going to all the palaver of rehydrating dried stuffing, agonizing over getting it to the right consistency, then rolling it into little balls, roasting it in the oven and fussing over it and basting it lovingly for 45 minutes while it cooks, what's the point in using an inferior brand that at the end of all this produces something no one wants to eat?
In the same way that I've always been sceptical of the difference between expensive vs. cheap brand of pre-made stuffing, I've also not thought there was much to this business of having different 'flavours' of the stuff, because frankly, once cooked, 'Pork and Apricot?' 'Apple and lemon with wild thyme?' it still all tastes much the same as basic sage & onion to me.
But this Paxo Chestnut and Cranberry stuffing is brilliant! When you used to be able to buy dried chestnuts at a price that was less than about £800 / kilo, I used to partially rehydrate them, laboriously chop them (because partially rehydrated, they have a similar level of hardness of little chunks of plastic sink), and then add the crunchy little nuggets to my (pre-made) sage & onion, to give it added textural interest. (You simply don't get the same crunchy / sweet flavoured effect with fresh chestnuts added to stuffing, sadly.)
This Paxo stuffing has the chopped dried chestnuts in it already, which is excellent. And the cranberry element comes across as a pleasant sweetness in the made-up and cooked stuffing also. I'm not keen on cranberries as fruit per se - but dried, and in stuffing, you got none of that weird bitterness or disturbing flabby texture of the stewed fresh berry, so they were really nice. The stuffing as a whole was quite delicious - and needless to say, so good the bleedin' stuff was sold out in Tescos the next time I went in to stock up on it.
Of course it's more expensive than the regular stuff - I got mine (possibly on special offer) for a basic-sized box for about 80-90p, but there are bumper sizes available too. The recommended cooking time I think is about 30 minutes, but I much prefer the effect when you cook it for quite a bit longer - almost as long as the roast potatoes (ie 45 minutes to an hour), in fact.
I only hope this brand of stuffing is not going to turn out to be one of these seasonal promotional items, that you can only buy in the run up to Christmas. I suppose with that brand name - Paxo 'Celebrations' and those ingredients - you would expect to be hard pressed to find it on sale in June however. Bah, humbug.
This is the stuffing we always use for Xmas dinner and I know this year won't be any different because we've already bought it, and eaten it with 2 dinners to make sure Paxo hadn't done anything sneaky over the year like change the recipe or remove some of the chestnuts!
They haven't though and this stuffing is as yummy as ever. It's easy to make up, don't bother measuring the water out because you can easily make the stuffing to the texture you want. We like our stuffing crispy so I add as little boiling water as possible, but if you want it sloppy for spreading on a chicken sandwich then add loads of water plus a bit of butter and only cook it for a few minutes instead of the full 20 minutes.
This is deffo the nicest Xmas stuffing available because it's got good sized pieces of chestnuts in it, they are dried but when you've added the water and cooked the stuffing they bulk out. I am always surprised at how strong they taste of chestnuts because I always think they are going to be bland but they're not. The chestnuts give the stuffing a lovely nutty texture and taste.
There are also dried cranberries in the stuffing, they're like the chestnuts and bulk out nice while the stuffing is cooking. They still feel like dried cranberries but have got a lovely juicy and chewy texture. They taste lovely and fruity when you bite into one and go sooooooo good with the herby tasting stuffing and the chestnuts.
I think this is a mega tasty stuffing, the flavours are so good that it's a treat and the best option for Xmas dinner. We always have stuffing balls and they cook nice as long as you don't make them too small, I love how crisp the outside goes but the middle stays nice and soft.
A 150g box of this Chestnut And Cranberry Stuffing is about £1.50 but Asda have got them on offer at the minute where you can buy 2 boxes for £2.00 and that's a brill deal so stock up and make sure you've got this delish stuffing for your Xmas dinner.
The one thing I never change on is the make of stuffing that I buy during the year to have with our roast chicken dinner and that is Paxo. I did once try a supermarkets own brand and it was disgusting so never again.
So now it is getting closer to Christmas I will be purchasing my favourite Paxo, chestnut & cranberry stuffing which is perfect to have with the xmas turkey.This just has the edge over the normal sage and onion, as when you eat this one you can really taste the cranberries and get the texture of the chestnuts, giving is a nutty taste.
This comes in a blue cardboard box with a heart shape with "Paxo Celebrations"written inside the heart and the words Chestnut & Cranberry perfect stuffing for turkey. This box is said to serve 6-8 people but I never manage to stretch it that far, so I usually use two boxes( there are usually 9 of us for dinner).
When opening the box you will find inside a clear plastic bag containing the stuffing mix. It resembles the look of a crumble mix with chopped up chestnuts and deep red cranberries pieces clearly visable.
You can cook this in the microwave, but I personally prefer to bake in the oven just before serving as this gives it a bit of a crispy coating.
Firstly empty the mix into a bowl, now this say's that you should add 350ml (12 fl.oz.) of boiling water and mix well. Stop right there as because it is Christmas I make mine with white wine or if overspent at Christmas then dry cider. I heat my wine up in a jug in the microwave until just starting to bubble then I pour over my mix. This really does make a big difference to the taste it is absolutely delicious!! Now you can add a knob of butter, but I never do so I can't comment on if that makes it taste any different. Leave it to stand for 5 minutes so it can swell up. Now you can put the whole lot into a tin and bake, but I personally prefer to make individual little balls as I think that they look nicer on the dinner plate. If cooking whole then cook for 25-30 minutes on 220/Gas mark7 or if making balls 20-25 minutes.
Now when it is Christmas I usually make my stuffing balls up on Christmas Eve and cover them with clingfilm and put in the fridge until I need to cook then and they always turn out really nice, it just saves a bit on the preparing and washing up of bowls on Christmas morning with all the other things to do!
Now this pack weight 150g so I will give you the details for 50g as it isn't very easy to work out per ball;
Remember that if you add wine or cider then it will have more calories than this, but it is Xmas after all!
Now this is one of my favourite things that I love with my Christmas dinner, but looking at the prices that they are charging for a turkey this year I might have to have a chicken breast instead!
This costs around the £1.50 mark at most supermarkets and I believe that there are several different flavours as well. I will be giving Paxo a well deserved 5 stars.