The turkey with sausage stuffing combines so many festive flavours in one dish. A beautiful golden turkey with a meaty, sausage and chestnut filling, and crisp bacon on top.
Chestnut stuffing is possibly the most traditional accompaniment for a festive feast. It was US President Franklin D Roosevelt’s Christmas favourite and Victorian chef Mrs. Beeton wrote about it. But to make it even better, sausage meat makes it juicy, tasty, and seriously decadent. Thank heavens that for this recipe there is no need for any of Mrs. Beeton's boiling and peeling of chestnuts. We’ve used pre-peeled ones. Peeling them yourself - unless they’re warm, roasting on an open fire, and you’re about to stuff them whole into your mouth - is a truly depressing Christmas job.
For the stuffing:
- 8 large, stoned prunes
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 454g pack Cumberland-style sausages
- 2 rashers dry-cured unsmoked streaky bacon, chopped
- 200g pack cooked and peeled chestnuts, chopped
- 1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- Salt and ground black pepper
For the turkey:
- 5-6kg (11-13lb) turkey, thawed if frozen
- 3 tbsp goose fat or softened butter
- Fresh sage leaves, optional
- 10-12 rashers streaky bacon
- 1 onion and 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 8-12 unpeeled shallots
- 18 cocktail sausages
For the gravy:
- About 600ml (1 pint) hot chicken stock
- 1-2 tsp cornflour
- 100ml (3½fl oz) Marsala, Madeira or sherry
- To make the stuffing: Pour boiling water over the prunes in a small bowl to cover them. Leave for 20 mins to plump up. Drain off water, chop prunes, then put them in a larger bowl and add the brandy. Skin sausages and mix the meat with the bacon and chestnuts, apple, zest and juice from half the lemon (keep the shell), nutmeg and seasoning.
- Pull any feathers out of the turkey, with tweezers. Wipe it with kitchen paper. Push just over half the stuffing into the neck end of the bird. Secure with 2 bamboo or metal skewers. Spoon the rest of the stuffing into a shallow, buttered baking dish and set aside until ready to cook. Weigh turkey and calculate the cooking time — about 3½ hours in total.
- Set the oven to 190°C/375°C/Gas 5. Rub the other lemon half over the turkey, squeezing out the juice as you go, and put both lemon shells inside the bird. Smear turkey breast and legs with goose fat or butter. Season and dot with sage leaves, if you like. Stretch bacon rashers with the back of a knife. Overlap them in a lattice over the breast and secure with string. Tie the legs together.
- Put the bird in a large roasting tin, with the neck and heart pushed underneath the stuffed neck end, to keep it in shape. Roast, basting now and then with the cooking juices. After 1 hour, add the onion, carrot, celery and shallots to the tin and cover the whole tin with foil. Cook for another 2-2½ hours, checking hourly. Take out shallots when they’re cooked and set aside.
- Check the turkey is cooked by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh. The juices should run clear. If not, cook for another 15 mins, then test again. Put the bird on a warm serving platter, cover with foil and keep in a warm place for 20-30 mins before carving.
- Put the sausages in a small roasting tin, along with the dish of stuffing, and cook in the oven for 25-30 mins.
- To make the gravy: Transfer the onion, carrot and celery from the roasting tin to a pan, and pour the juices into a large jug, scraping all the crunchy bits from the tin into the pan. Leave cooking juices for 5-10 mins to settle, then pour off the fat into a small bowl. Add the juices to the pan along with some chicken stock and simmer for 10-15 mins until the vegetables are soft. Roughly mash the vegetables in the pan. Mix the cornflour with the fortified wine and whisk into the gravy. Boil for a few minutes until thickened. Strain into a jug, then pour into your gravy boat. Garnish turkey with bay leaves, if you like. Serve with the sausages, shallots and gravy.
Top tips for making roast turkey with sausage stuffing
It's really important to rest your turkey after roasting, for at least 20-30 minutes. As well as allowing the meat to reabsorb some of the juices from the cooking, it gives you time to prep the rest of the trimmings. If your potatoes are ready to go in the oven as you take the turkey out, you can put the oven temperature up and put the potatoes in at that moment, and have the turkey rest for the full potato cooking time.
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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