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Turkey Breast Stuffed with Italian Sausage & Marsala-Steeped Cranberries


This festive stuffed turkey is a beautiful and elaborate dish to serve as the centerpiece of your holiday feast!

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  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 7 tablespoons Marsala wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 echalion or banana shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 1/4 pounds Italian sausages
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 (11-pound) boneless turkey breast, butterflied, with skin left on
  • 1/4 cup duck or goose fat


Servings 12
Preparation time 30mins
Cooking time 160mins
Adapted from


Step 1

Put the cranberries and Marsala into a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then take off the heat and leave to one side.

Put the oil into a large frying pan or similar heavy pan, and fry the shallots for a minute or so, then add the spices and chopped sage, turning them in the soft shallots.

Squeeze the sausage meat out of its skins, add to the pan, and break it up— using a wooden fork and spatula for ease—, turning it in the hot pan until it loses its pinkness. This will take about 5 minutes.

Take the frying pan off the heat and turn the contents into a large bowl, mixing in the steeped cranberries and any Marsala clinging to them, and leave to cool. You can cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for up to 2 days at this stage. When you are ready to stuff the turkey breast, take the bowl of sausage meat out of the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Uncover the bowl of sausage meat, add the eggs, Parmesan, and bread crumbs and—I use my hands for this— mix well. Lay the butterflied turkey joint out in front of you. It really does look like a butterfly, though admittedly a fleshy one. Spread the stuffing out first in the slight cavity in the center of the butterfly and then outward onto the wings though not going right up to the edge (or it will squidge out when cooking) but as evenly as possible over the whole joint.

Carefully, in one swift but steady movement, fold one “wing” over the other to close the joint, and then sit the turkey in a large roasting pan, breast bone (or where the breast bone would be) on top as it would look were it the whole bird, with the pointier bit farthest away from you. Thread 2 skewers through the base—, i.e. the widest part that is nearer you— to keep it closed, and smear it all over with the duck or goose fat.

Roast the turkey breast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, then check it is cooked with a turkey or meat thermometer. When cooked, it should read 165°F in the center. (If you're leaving it to rest, as you should, or to cool, you could take it out at 160°F—it will retain heat and continue to cook for a short while once out of the oven.)

Flex your muscles, then lift out onto a cutting board, and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes. Or leave to get cold if you are eating it as part of a cook-ahead buffet.

Cut through the whole joint in wide slices right across; they will need to be quite thick, at least 1/2 inch, maybe 1 inch, to keep the stuffing intact within the slice.

As you place it on table or sideboard, dot around it the condiments of your choice: I revert to Christmas in Italy here by putting a lusciously extravagant pot or two of Italian mostarda di Cremona on the table alongside: this is a hot and sweet preserve of mustardy candied fruits that gleam beautifully and taste both festive and fabulous.

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