This complete Christmas centerpiece with chestnut stuffing is perfect for a traditional festive feast.
Though Victorians favoured goose, roast turkey has been eaten at Christmas time in the UK since the 1500s. Henry VIII is thought to have been the first king to eat it at his midwinter feast. Stuffing meanwhile is even older - there are Roman recipes for everything from stuffed chicken to stuffed dormouse. Chestnut stuffing is creamy, nutty, and delicious, but peeling chestnuts is one of our least favourite culinary jobs. That's why this recipe uses pre-blanched and peeled vacuum-packed chestnuts for ease. Use this stuffing inside or outside the bird - it's just as tasty either way.
For the stuffing
- 30g (1oz) butter
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 500g (1lb) pork sausage meat
- 60g (2oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
- 1 medium egg
- 1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 200g (7oz) packet vacuum-packed chestnuts, chopped
For the turkey
- 5-6kg (11-13lb) British turkey
- 600ml (1 pint) turkey giblet or chicken stock
- 30g (1oz) butter, melted
- Sprigs of fresh rosemary, to garnish
- To make the stuffing: Melt butter in a pan and add the onion. Cook it over a medium heat for 5-7 mins until the onion has softened. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the onions to cool.
- Mix together the sausage meat, breadcrumbs, egg, apple and sage, then add the onion mixture. Stir in the chestnuts, taking care that they don't get completely mashed and retain some texture.
- Use stuffing to fill neck cavity of turkey. (Shape any extra stuffing into balls and cook on a baking tray for 20-30 mins, after turkey has been taken out of the oven.) When the bird is stuffed, pull the neck skin tight over the stuffing without tearing it, and, if necessary, secure it with a couple of cocktail sticks.
- Set oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.
- Weigh turkey to calculate the cooking time, allowing 20 mins per 500g. A 6kg turkey with stuffing will take 4 hours to cook.
- Place the turkey in a roasting tin and pour the stock around it. Brush the melted butter over the skin of the turkey. Cover with foil and place towards the bottom of the pre-heated oven. The shelf at the top will be used for the roasted vegetables.
- Keep the turkey covered with foil until the last 30-40 mins of the calculated cooking time, then remove the foil, baste the turkey and return it to the oven until cooked through. See tips.
- Remove the bird from the oven and transfer it to a warmed serving plate. Cover with clean foil and leave it to rest in a warm place for 20-30 mins before carving. Garnish with sprigs of rosemary.
Top tips for making roast turkey with chestnut stuffing
If you like lots of chestnut stuffing, double the quantity to have plenty of stuffing balls to serve with the turkey and also with cold meat later.
We recommend using a meat thermometer to check the turkey and the stuffing are both properly cooked. Alternatively, pierce the thickest part of the flesh on the thigh with a skewer. If the juices that run out are clear, it's cooked. If the juices are still pink, then the turkey needs further cooking.
Find out everything you need to know about cooking a turkey to perfection with our how to cook a turkey step-by-step guide - including easy to follow guide
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Octavia Lillywhite is an award-winning food and lifestyle journalist with over 15 years of experience. With a passion for creating beautiful, tasty family meals that don’t use hundreds of ingredients or anything you have to source from obscure websites, she’s a champion of local and seasonal foods, using up leftovers and composting, which, she maintains, is probably the most important thing we all can do to protect the environment.
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