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Roast Turkey with Chestnut and Cranberry Stuffing

Roast Turkey with Chestnut and Cranberry Stuffing

The dried cranberries add a special touch to my traditional chestnut stuffing and the gravy made with Marsala adds incredible richness and flavour. This recipe by Alex Mackay gives you lots of gravy; turkey tends to soak it up so always make enough for a second or third round.

  • Serves 8

  • 4 hours

  • 1 pan

  • Proficient

Whole Chestnuts


  • 1 x 180g Merchant Gourmet Whole Chestnuts
  • 1 Turkey (Approx 4kg)
  • 700g best quality sausage meat
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 100g Merchant Gourmet Polenta or breadcrumbs
  • 150g dried cranberries
  • 5 large sprigs of rosemary, picked and chopped
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 heaped tbsp flour
  • 350ml Marsala
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 850ml chicken stock
  • 16 chipolatas
  • 16 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1.Pre-heat your oven to 180c /Gas 4 Upper Middle Shelf. Boil your kettle

2.Take your turkey out of the fridge, take out the giblets and set them aside. Lift up the flap of skin at the neck end of the turkey to uncover the wishbone. With a sharp knife, cut down either side of the wishbone, very firmly and perhaps with a helping hand, pull the wishbone out towards you (don’t worry if it breaks, just make a wish) and set it aside with the neck and giblets. If you have a big knife, chop the neck into six pieces. (This gives you more roasty bits around the turkey, which add more flavour to the gravy.)

3.Next, make the stuffing. Mix the sausage meat together with the chopped onions, chestnuts, polenta, dried cranberries; rosemary, mixed spice, egg yolks and a heaped teaspoon each of salt and black pepper

4.Lift the flap of skin at the top of the turkey breasts. Loosely push about 1/3 of the stuffing underneath. Fold the flap of skin back over so that it holds the stuffing in, but make sure that it is not too tightly packed or the skin will split as it roasts. Truss the turkey, making sure that you leave the skin slightly loose, but secure the neck flap well. If you don’t have a trussing needle, use a wooden skewer to do this. Separate the remaining stuffing into 16 pieces, dust your hands with polenta if the stuffing is sticky and roll the 16 pieces into balls. Put them in the fridge until you need them. Put the turkey onto a large roasting tray and put the chopped neck and giblets around the outside

5.Brush the turkey, neck and giblets with vegetable oil. Rub salt all over the turkey’s skin. Put the tray onto the middle shelf of your pre-heated oven

6.Roast the turkey for 1 hour and 30 minutes; check it twice, as, depending on whether your oven has a hot spot at the back, you may need to turn the turkey so that it roasts evenly. Take the turkey out of the oven. Baste it with the cooking juices. Put the stuffing balls around the outside. Roast for a further 30 minutes. Transfer the turkey and stuffing balls to a large dish. Cover the stuffing balls but not the turkey with foil and leave both to rest for at least 30 minutes. Pour the cooking juices from the roasting tray into a saucepan, leaving just a little fat in the tray. Put the saucepan with the juices to one side to settle so that you can scoop the fat off the top. (Only if you want to, I leave the fat in)

7.Add the flour to the roasting tray, put the tray over a medium heat and stir it for a minute until the flour goes brown. Add the Marsala, being careful as it will catch alight, and boil until it has reduced by half. Stir in the soy sauce and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Scrape the bottom of the roasting tray with a fish slice to remove all the caramelised goodies, bring to the boil, and transfer to a saucepan. Scoop the fat off the top of the turkey cooking juices (only if you want to) and add them to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer rapidly for 15 minutes. Strain your gravy into a clean pan. Season to taste, and keep it off the heat until you are ready to serve

8.At any time you get a free minute while the turkey is cooking, roll each chipolata in a rasher of streaky bacon and place them onto a baking sheet with the overlapping side of the bacon downward so that they don’t unravel. Once the turkey is cooked, bake the chipolatas for 10 minutes then put them under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes until the bacon is crispy

9.Serve the turkey in all its glory with the gravy, stuffing balls, chipolatas and whatever veg you like the best

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