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Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cook the onion in the butter until soft but not browned. Add the breadcrumbs and stir so they soak up all the excess butter and fat. Let the mixture cool. Tip into a bowl with the sausagemeat, apple, cranberries, pistachios, sage and mixed spice. Mix well, then roll into balls. You can now cover and chill for up to a day before cooking.
To cook, place in a roasting tin and bake for 40 mins, turning a few times, or until browned all over. Add the bay leaves, if using, for the final ten minutes of cooking.