Pork with Chestnut & Sage Stuffing Balls – Rules Are Made To Be Broken.

pork-and-chestnut-stuffing-balls-18-of-19Let’s get to the rules first. Stuffing is just that – Stuffing. It should be carefully crafted, blended, seasoned and finally stuffed. It should be rammed into the opening in the unfortunate creature you intend eating. It needs to be shoved in so far that there is no space left for doubt. There is no arguing about it. 

I have a mental picture of you in your lovely kitchen. You have mixed your stuffing and have wrapped it in aluminium foil. You have placed it on the shelf below the meat. You are feeling like a chef. Food safety people recommend cooking the stuffing separately. Jamming it into the middle of a bird or hunk of meat will alter the cooking times and expose you to danger. You are best kept safe from yourself and your inability to cook your dinner. This is the nanny state creeping into the kitchen. This is not stuffing. This is farce. In short, if you are going to stuff, stuff.

With that off my chest, here’s a recipe for Pork with Chestnut & Sage Stuffing Balls. Yes, balls of stuffing. Yes, cooked separate to the meat. Yes, my stuffing rules are made to be broken.


If you are going to break rules, break them with style.


  • 1 joint of prime rack of pork – Free range, organic, rare breed, if available.
  • 3 onions
  • 500 grammes of chestnuts
  • A big handful of sage
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 grammes of oats
  • 100 mls of good pork stock
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • The apples are to make an apple sauce, requiring only some ginger and sugar.

Side note on the stock: At the front of the photo above lie 5 cubes of homemade, highly concentrated, pork stock. This made up 100 mls of ‘punch in the face’ strength pork stock. Making your own pork, chicken, beef and prawn stocks is so well worthwhile. Do put it on your list.

To make the stuffing balls, first cut a cross pattern on each of the chestnuts.


Be sure to do each one. If you don’t they will explode in the oven.

Place the chestnuts on a roasting tray and pop them into a 180ºC oven for 15 minutes.


They look particularly pretty when they come out of the oven.

While they are still warm, peel the chestnuts and remove the inner furry lining around each nut. This tastes pretty bitter and will ruin your stuffing. Next, slice the onions into small pieces.


One needs plenty of onion. It is a constituent part of this dish.

Fry the onions over a medium low heat until they become vaguely translucent.


This is what I mean by “vaguely translucent”. It is not a much used culinary term.

Slice the sage leaves until they are about the same size as the onion pieces. These will be also about the size of the oats, if you have being doing it right. It is not an exact science. It is not science at all.

Place the chestnuts into a blender….


Chestnuts waiting in the blender.

Next, blitz them until they are a fine crumb consistency, like in the photo below.


Crumbed nuts. It took me ages to get back in the right place for the photo.

Place all the ingredients into a big bowl. Season well.


It’s a pretty uninviting collective of stuff. Take my word for it, it’s worthwhile.

Mix this lot up with a large spoon until well combined. It will be a bit of a mess.


Not the most appetising looking mixture I’ve ever made.

Divide this into balls, about the size of a golf ball. This is a messy job as the oats get pretty gooey and slimy. Bear with it. It’s worth it.


I hope you like my sage and nut balls, as the actor said to the bishop.

Pop these into the fridge. This will allow them to firm up and they will hold together when cooked.

Preheat the oven to 230ºC (very hot). Cut slices in the skin of the pork, running parallel to the line of the ribs. This makes for easy cutting. I measured mine so there would be two pieces of crackling per bone-in chop. Rub with oil. Season very well.


Rub the seasoning in very well. The salt and pepper add great flavour to the crackling.

Place the pork on a rack in a roasting tray, in the hot oven. Turn on the oven fan. Leave the pork there for 25 minutes. Turn down the heat to 200ºC and cook for another hour and a quarter or so. Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.


This is a totally gratuitous shot of the pork resting. That crackling is to die for.

The chestnut stuffing balls take about half an hour to cook. Pop them in the oven about 10 minutes before you remove the pork. They will look like this when they are done.


Delicious, crusty, crunchy balls of nutty, sagey deliciousness.

While your balls are cooking (don’t snigger, I didn’t mean it that way) add a couple of teaspoons of flour and some salt and pepper to the roasting tray.


Great meat helps make a great gravy. This was one of the best.

Mix up a porky roux and add water to make a delicious gravy. Finish it off on the stove top. Peel and slice the apples, grate in some ginger and add a little sugar to taste. Warm through until the apple just begins to break down. Carve the pork.


If ever there was a gratuitous meat shot, this is it.

Serve with some potatoes and enjoy. I really liked these stuffing balls. There are a few reasons. Firstly, they tasted delicious. Secondly, they had a lovely texture thanks to the use of oats. Thirdly, they worked really well with the pork (Think of pork, sage, chestnuts and onion). Lastly, I broke the rule of stuffing. Even if it’s my own rule, it fun to break out every now and then.


This is as fine a dinner as one can have. Break the rules by making balls of your stuffing.

I served it with a nice, modestly priced Bergerac white on the side. This was well appreciated by all. Go on, balls up your stuffing. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the crudity).

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Latest comments
  • That looks delicious!
    I’m just about to fry up some home made stuffing, previously cooked inside my goose on Christmas Day. I’ve got some deliberately leftover mashed potato to go with it too 🙂

      • I used to love turkey when I was a child, but I’ve really gone off it now, probably due to overexposure and the fact it got wheeled out on all public holiday. Goose on the other hand has far less meat and a better flavour, so it’s gone before you’ve had too much.

          • I’m inclined to cut the breast off and then slice it, as opposed to cutting it on the bird. There’s always a toss up between pink meat or crispy skin – I’m inclined to go for crispy skin and I love the fatty layer between the skin and the meat, like on a duck. Perhaps one could do a Peking Goose… 🙂

          • You do! Maybe New Year’s Eve…

  • Is that pouring shot the defrosted pork stock cubes…? Sadly, chestnuts are unbelievably rare in these parts, but the recipe does look exceedingly tasty – gorgeously suntanned gravy!

      • That is certainly powerful stuff. I’m enjoying the mental image of a cube of it returning to the kitchen table by itself if it happens to fall on the floor… 🙂

  • Scrumptious! A delicious dish and equally tasty photographs. Hope you’ve had a very happy Christmas. Lx

      • Looking forward to it! Have a good break. xx

  • “This is not stuffing. This is farce.” Ha! Best pun I’ve seen this week, and that includes from Christmas crackers!

    I nearly always cook balls, partly because I rarely cook anything with a stuffable cavity anyway (turkey, schmurkey, Meh.) but mostly because, in their infinite variety, they go with, and should be eaten with, anything. Like Yorkshire puddings.

  • Dang that gravy looks to die for. I bet the balls and pork were delicious with it!

  • With local temperatures said to rise to close to 40 C for the next four days [and, no, I do not have ac 🙂 !] this simple but fascinating recipe may not be trialled awhile . . . but I have to admit that I usually have stuffed the stuffing into the opening available! Logic acknowledged!! Lesson learnt!! Australia has been called the ‘nanny state’ [could not care less!!!!] so many times your warning certainly does not offend . . .

  • Great post, Conor, and a great recipe as well. I guess it would also have worked to stuff a whole suckling pig with that farce, but that would have fed a small army (as well as require a small army to cut all those chestnuts). Had to laugh out loud at the instructions for the onions. Great idea to include concentrated pork stock in the balls — that mimics the pork juices that would otherwise have moistened and flavored the stuffing. This post calls up some mental images. I hope the unfortunate creatures are actually dead when you ram the stuffing up their cavities? 😉 Finally, I agree this should be served with white wine! A Pessac-Leognan (from the same region but with more semillon and more oak) would also be a good choice.

  • I am one of your biggest fans. I particularly like the chestnuts. When I had chestnut pie and thought I was in heaven. They used to sell hot chestnuts on the streets of Toronto (Ontario, Canada). No more. Hard to find recipes for chestnuts. I so much appreciate your step by step instructions. So glad I found you! You are a 5 star chef in my books.

  • I was inspired to try these stuffing balls with my Christmas roast ham. My sage bush has swamped my other herbs in the garden so I attacked it with menace. I was so inspired I made some pork stock with pigs trotters. I have always had difficulties skinning chestnuts since I was a babe in front of a bonfire, everything was easier in those days, but found this method works really well if the incisions are deep enough. I presumed the oats were Irish porridge oats. Anyway they were really nice, thanks. The excess may double up as dumplings in a nice pork stew.

  • If balls of chestnut stuffing are wrong, I don’t wanna be right. Happy new year, Conor!

  • That is a nice twist in your stuffing. I don’t stuff my bird (pun included).

    Happy New Year

  • I started doing stuffing balls after I saw my MIL make them. I love how many variations you can make. This recipe looks amazing.

  • As a child I remember my mother serving a goose every Christmas – until she got jaundice one day because of all that fat. Your recipe sounds and looks incredible. And then I read that you went to Tipperary – I always wanted to visit Clonmel.
    I wish you and your family a Happy New Year, good health, success in your business and peace.

  • Now this is a holiday meal, Conor. Nicely done! I’cve a soft spot for chestnut stuffing. It was Mom’s specialty — one that I never mastered, unfortunately.
    I hope you and all of the Bofins enjoyed the best of holiday seasons, Conor, with nothing but good to come your way in 2017.

  • Oh, looks like I decided to drop in at a perfect time,Conor! I have not been posting on my blog nor visiting my foodblogger friends,but I have a bunch of chestnuts for which I had no real plans.
    And you have not been looking into MY kitchen when you saw non-stuffed stuffing!
    I hope this year is wonderful for you and yours.

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