This vegetarian roast-alternative is a great way to make your stuffing and main course all in one. The soft and fluffy cornbread makes the perfect meat substitute when flavoured with herbs and sweet dried fruit. A sprinkling of grated cheese finishes the dish off perfectly, adding a good hit of savoury flavour.
- For the cornbread
- 225g (8oz) cornmeal (polenta)
- 225g (8oz) plain flour
- 50g (2oz) caster sugar
- 1tbsp baking powder
- 225ml (8fl oz) milk
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 60g (2 1/2 oz) butter, melted
- For the stuffing
- 15g (1/2oz) butter plus 50g (2oz) butter, melted, for later
- 1tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 cornbread loaf (recipe above), cut into 2.5cm (1in) cubes
- 3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
- 75g (3oz) pine nuts, toasted
- 100g (4oz) dried apricots, chopped
Preheat the oven to 220 C, 200 C fan, 450 F, gas 7. Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt. Add the milk and egg and stir well. Add the melted butter and combine. Pour into a well buttered 20x5cm (8x2in) loaf tin and bake for about 20 minutes until it sounds hollow when tapped. Leave to cool overnight, uncovered.
Preheat the oven to 180 C, 160 C fan, 350 F, gas 4. Fry the shallots in 15g (1/2oz) butter and the oil until softened, add the garlic and cook for a few minutes and season well. Mix the shallots, cornbread, herbs, pine nuts and apricots in a bowl, then add the melted butter, stock and seasoning. Place in a well-buttered ovenproof dish, cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes. If it’s a little dry, add more stock.
To serve as a vegetarian course, take a few large spoonfuls of the stuffing and place in an ovenproof gratin dish. Slice some Taleggio cheese or other flavoursome melting cheese, such as provolone or Camembert, cover the stuffing with it and place it in the oven once the meat has come out for about 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is browned and bubbling.