As we are ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, the centerpiece of our feast and celebration will be a turkey.

The turkey has become the meal’s star or, as some love to refer to, ” Turkey Day.”

Why Is Thanksgiving ‘Turkey Day’?

Thanksgiving Day is an annual holiday in the United States. A way of celebrating the harvest and other blessings for the past year.

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It is believed Thanksgiving was modeled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists, or Pilgrims, of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people.

Always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Sarah Josepha Hale is referred to as the “Godmother of Thanksgiving.” Her early New England celebrations emphasized a roast turkey.

After that, adopted by the rest of the country once proclaimed a national day by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. A way to unite the country amid the Civil War. Signed into a federal holiday in 1870 by Ulysses S. Grant.

Of course, the first Thanksgiving was not as copious as it is now with cranberries, potatoes, and stuffing, which were not introduced until another 50 or so years later.

In this Article

What is Turkey Stuffing?

We love our turkey, and the celebration remains the same. However, we have expanded our culinary journey, and as you may have noticed, our turkey has taken so many new ways to be prepared. Fry, smoked, baked, it will always be present at our Thanksgiving dinner table.

Stuffed with wonderful savory flavors, we all bring our own touch, life, and personality to the bird.

Since my first  Thanksgiving, I have brought a bit of France with me and united it with the turkey.

I make the chestnut stuffing as our turkey’s side dish, and as you can see by the recipe below, it is a bit different than you may be used to.

Recipe tips 

  • The sausage meat, pork, sausages cooked with apples, fresh chestnuts, and spices are all brought together with cognac. I always add some to it, and it works like magic.
  • I cover the breasts with thick bacon, and I use almost a whole bottle of white wine to bast it. Do not forget to add the giblets and livers; you will be surprised by how delicious they are.
  • By not placing the stuffing in the central cavity, my turkey cooks faster.
  • Always poke between the breast and the thigh to let out all the natural juices.
  • Do baste the turkey every 15 to 20 minutes to keep it moist and turn it around if it starts to cook too fast on one side. I have an older oven, and this happens.
  • Use thick aluminum foil to cover the turkey until the last 30 minutes of cooking so it will get nice and golden.
  • Always let the turkey rest before slicing.

Equipment needed

Fat separator – which I use to extract the turkey’s juices to use with the Shiitake Mushroom Gravy. 

Large skillet – to prepare the stuffing

Roasting pan with wire rack – I love my Mauviel and have been using it since my first turkey went in the oven. Heavy and always reliable.

Electric knife – to cut the turkey. Makes life so much easier and you will be surprised how many times you will be using it.

Baster – useful to absorb the juices and pour them over the turkey.

Cooking twine – keeps the turkey legs and wings close to the body as to cook evenly with the turkey.

A Giangi PIck
Mauviel M'Cook B 5-Ply Polished Stainless Steel Roasting Pan With Rack & Brass Handles
$299.95

My faithful companion in the kitchen. No job is too big or too small. A must in every kitchen!

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02/18/2024 02:49 pm GMT

turkey covered of bacon strips

Step by Step instructions on how to prepare your stuffing

Preheat the oven temperature to 375F

  • In a large skillet, on medium-high heat, add softened butter, the onions, and the bacon strips.
  • Add the sausage meat and the sausage. Continue cooking and separating the pork meats with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Add the apple to the meat and season with salt and pepper. Add the spices and mix well.
  • Remove from the heat and add the steamed chestnuts and cognac. Work the stuffing lightly to incorporate the meat and chestnuts, but do not mash them.

Stuffing your turkey.

  • Make two small incisions on each breast and on each thigh, and insert the garlic cloves in it.
  • Add the remaining garlic to the turkey cavity. Season generously the cavity with salt and pepper.
  • Stuff the turkey’s neck cavity with the above stuffing. Close the opening with pins and cooking twine/ kitchen twine.

Place in a large roasting pan over a roast rack.

  • With the twine, bring together the legs and tuck them under the wings. Slightly oil the turkey with olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the turkey’s breast with the thick bacon slices. Cover slightly with aluminum foil.

Roasting your turkey.

  • Roast for approximately 20 minutes per pound in a roasting pan.
  • Poke with a fork occasionally to let the juices run from the breast and tight area.
  • Baste with white wine and any juices from the bottom of the pan every 20 to 25 minutes

When done, no more juices running out when poking the turkey; remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes or so covered.

Remove the stuffing before slicing the turkey and place it in a large bowl.

Slice the turkey on a carving board by starting with the breast, and moving to the tights.

Serve alongside apple slices sautéed with butter and warm steamed chestnuts.

A Giangi PIck
Concept Fruits Whole Roasted Chestnuts in Jar-Large 14.8 oz
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02/18/2024 03:15 pm GMT

Why Fresh Turkey is Best

When selecting your turkey for the best flavor, ensure that it is fresh and has not been frozen. A fresh turkey has a much better texture and flavor. 

Remember, the stuffing will add extra weight to the bird, so remember this when choosing your turkey.

A good rule of thumb is to allow for 1 to 1.5 pounds of turkey per person, but if you want ample leftovers or have big eaters, aim for up to 2 pounds per person.

Substitutes and additions

  • Add some chopped onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the bottom of the roasting pan. They will emit a great flavor if you are going to use them for gravy.
  • If you can’t find yellow onions, shallots, white or red onions can be used interchangeably. Each has a slightly different flavor profile but will still add a savory depth to the stuffing.
  • For those who don’t consume pork, turkey bacon can substitute for regular bacon.
  • In case of an apple shortage, pears can be a great alternative. They have a similar texture and natural sweetness.
  • If you don’t have cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice can provide a warm, subtly spicy flavor that complements the other ingredients.
  • For those who prefer not to cook with alcohol or if cognac is not available, apple cider, chicken stock, or turkey stock can be used. The aim is to add a depth of flavor and some moisture.

Depending on your palate, you might want to add some extra flavors to your stuffing. Here are some suggestions:

  • Fresh herbs: Rosemary, fresh thyme, and fresh sage can add a fragrant note to your stuffing.
  • Dried fruits: Raisins, currants, or diced apricots can add a sweet contrast to the savory elements.

Storage 

Leftover stuffing should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consumed within 3-4 days for optimal freshness. If you have an excess of leftover turkey, consider freezing it.

Ensure the turkey is completely cool before packing it into a freezer-safe bag or container. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. 

When it comes to making this recipe ahead of time, there are a few stages that can be completed in advance.

The sausage and chestnut stuffing can be prepared a day ahead, stored in the refrigerator, and brought to room temperature before stuffing the turkey.

The turkey should be cooked on the day it is served to ensure maximum freshness and flavor.

Always defrost frozen turkey and frozen stuffing safely in the refrigerator.

Depending on the size of your turkey, this could take up to a couple of days, so plan accordingly!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different type of sausage in the stuffing?  

Yes, you can use any type of sausage you prefer. However, keep in mind that the sausage’s flavor will influence the stuffing’s overall taste. 

Can I prepare the stuffing separately and not inside the turkey?  

Absolutely! If you prefer not to stuff the turkey, you can cook the stuffing separately in a casserole dish. 

Can I use a different type of poultry?  

While this recipe is designed for turkey, it can be easily adapted for other types of poultry, such as chicken or duck. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly. 

Can I use this recipe for a stuffed turkey breast instead of a whole turkey?  

Absolutely, the stuffing and cooking technique can be easily adapted for a turkey breast. Just be mindful of the cooking time, as a turkey breast will cook much faster than a whole turkey. 

What type of apple should I use?  

 Any type of apple should work in this recipe. However, tart apples like Granny Smith offer a nice contrast to the rich, savory flavors of the stuffing.

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A Giangi PIck
Mauviel M'Cook B 5-Ply Polished Stainless Steel Roasting Pan With Rack & Brass Handles
$299.95

My faithful companion in the kitchen. No job is too big or too small. A must in every kitchen!

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02/18/2024 02:49 pm GMT

Chestnut Stuffed Turkey

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chestnut stuffed turkey
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8
The turkey has become the meal's star or, as some love to refer to, " Turkey Day."

Ingredients 

  • 2 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces bacon, sliced and cut into strips
  • 8 ounces sausage meat
  • 1 breakfast sausage, casing removed
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • cinnamon, mustard, pepper ground, equal pinch
  • 24 chestnuts,
  • 4 pounds turkey, cleaned and patted dry
  • 6 thick slices of bacon
  • cup cognac
  • olive oil
  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven at 375º F.
  • In a large skillet heat the butter and add the onions and the bacon strips. Add the sausage meat and the sausage. Continue cooking and separating the pork meats with a spatula.
  • Add the apple to the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the spices and mix well.
  • Remove from the heat and add the steamed chestnuts and cognac. Work the stuffing lightly to well incorporate the meat and chestnuts, but not mashed them.
  • Make 2 small incisions on each breast as well as on each thigh and insert the garlic cloves in it Add the remaining garlic in the turkey cavity. Season generously the cavity with salt and pepper.
  • Stuffed the turkey’s neck with the above stuffing. Close the opening with pins and cooking twine. Place in a large roasting pan over a roast rack. With the twine bring together the legs and tuck under the wings. Slightly oil the turkey with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Cover the turkey’s breast with the thick bacon slices. Cover slight with aluminum foil. Cook approximately 20 minutes per pound.
  • Poke with a fork once in a while to let the juices run form the breast and tight area.
  • Baste with white wine and any juices from the bottom of the pan every 20 to 25 minutes
  • When done, no more juices running out when poking the turkey, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes or so covered.
  • Remove the stuffing before slicing the turkey and place in a serving bowl.
  • Slice the turkey by starting with the breast and moving to the tights. Serve alongside apple slices sautéed with butter and warm steamed chestnuts.

Nutrition

Calories: 736kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 77g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 276mg | Sodium: 706mg | Potassium: 1028mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 315IU | Vitamin C: 13.4mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 3.5mg

Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.

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