Tacchina Arrosto

Roast Stuffed Turkey

When it comes to cooking and serving turkey in Italy we tend to choose a smaller, succulent bird which will not dry out as easily as a huge specimen. This is a delicious stuffing mixture, which also works well with goose, duck, or chicken. The special ingredient is the candied fruits in a strong mustard syrup—otherwise known as Mostarda di Cremona. Far too good to save just for Christmas, which is not the tradition in Italy anyway—this is a fantastic choice for a Sunday roast lunch for eight people at any time of the year!


  • 1 small turkey, weighing about 9 lb
  • extra virgin olive oil, for basting
  • 4 Italian sausages, skinned and crumbled
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
  • grated peel and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 2 stale white rolls, soaked in water to soften, then crumbled
  • 1 large glass red wine
  • 4 oz pancetta, chopped fine
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped fine
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons Mostarda di Cremona, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped sage leaves
  • 1 whole orange
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wipe the turkey carefully all over. Rub the bird with olive oil all over the outside and also on the inside.
  2. Mix the sausages with the chopped apple, the citrus peel, the crumbled soaked rolls, red wine, pancetta, celery, onion, Mostarda, and sage very thoroughly and use this mixture to fill the turkey cavity at the neck end.
  3. Place a whole orange in the other end. Sew the neck cavity closed with kitchen string. Place in a large roasting pan.
  4. Season the bird thoroughly with salt and pepper, drizzle with more olive oil, and roast, breast-side down, in the oven for about 45 minutes. Baste, turn over, drizzle with olive oil again, and continue to roast, basting frequently for about 4 hours, or until the turkey is thoroughly cooked through.
  5. Remove the turkey from the oven, allow to stand for about 10 minutes, then carve and serve. Delicious with Italian roast potatoes and braised artichokes.


Also delicious using goose instead of turkey. In either case use a free-range bird, which will give you lots of flavor and will taste genuinely rich and gutsy, like a proper farmyard animal! You could also use the stuffing (halving the quantity) to fill a chicken.

“To eat an egg laid within the hour, bread made the same day, and drink wine from the new harvest can never do you harm.”

Sicilian Proverb