• Active Time 15m
  • Total Time 3h 45m

Serves 8

The turkey came originally from the Americas; it is highly likely that Cortes brought it to Europe from Mexico. Introduced into France in the sixteenth century, it took some time to become popular. In 1564 Charles Estienne wrote in his L'Agriculture et la Maison Rustique "This bird is a corn bin, a bottomless pit for feed, and the only pleasure one can get from it is noise and fury in the case of the adult birds and a continual cheeping in the case of the young ones; their flesh, though tender, is tasteless and difficult to digest. That is why it must be sprinkled with spices and larded and cooked with herbs. The turkey-hens eat as much as mules." Not that this prevented cooks from making extensive use of them - so much so that in the seventeenth century King Louis XIV himself was very concerned with the breeding of turkeys at his palace in Versailles.
In the present century turkey with chestnuts has become a central dish of the Christmas meal, no doubt due to English influence.


  • For the Stuffing:
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups coarse white breadcrumbs
  • 4 ounces York ham, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons snipped flalt-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 8 ounces cleaned chicken livers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 1/2 ounces shelled walnuts, coarsely grated
  • 4 pinches ground cumin
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 pinches ground cloves
  • 4 pinches ground cayenne pepper
  • 4 pinches grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 1 truffle, fresh or dried, about 1 1/2 ounces

  • 1 Bresse turkey, about 8 pounds, ready for roasting



Boil the milk in a small saucepan and add salt and pepper and the breadcrumbs. Cook the mixture on low heat for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until you have a sticky paste. Put this into a large bowl and let it cool for 3 minutes. Add the ham and parsley; mix well.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet. Add the shallots and brown for 3 minutes over gentle heat. Add the livers and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 minutes. They should be just sealed but not browned. Add the liver and shallots to the bowl and mix. Stir in the walnuts, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Mix again and sprinkle with the cognac. Coarsely grate the truffle over the bowl. Stir well.


Set the oven to 400 degrees F. Stuff the turkey and sew up the openings with cotton thread. Put the turkey in a large roasting pan and place in the oven. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Brush the giblets with oil and place them around the bird. Roast for 2 1/2 hours more, basting often. When the pan juices have caramelized add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan and repeat as often as necessary to avoid burning.

When the turkey is cooked, let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes in the turned-off oven, covered with a sheet of foil. Place it on a large platter and pour the gravy through a strainer into a saucepan. Set aside for 5 minutes for the fat to rise to the surface. Skim off the fat with a spoon and discard. Season the gravy with salt and pepper, reheat and pour it into a gravy boat.

Serve this turkey with peeled chestnuts heated in a little gravy.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Russell. All rights reserved.

RecID 2704

nutrition information per serving

643 calories; 25g total fat; 336mg cholesterol; 420mg sodium; 12g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 86g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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