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And how big is your Thanksgiving going to be? That picture is from 2017 when the Butterball folks came to Cooking by the Book for two days of Butterball University. They were schooling journalists in every aspect of turkey cooking: how to roast, stuff and even presentation. If you are feeding dozens of people, you need lots of turkeys. And defrosting all those birds … Well, we scrubbed our tub.

Yes, presentation as in…

The Butterball team worked for a long, long time to get that beauty shot. Worth every minute. Imagine bringing this to the table!

Suzi and I have a favorite turkey recipe, of course. And I’ll repeat that as we get closer to Thanksgiving. But, I have to say, I’m searching for something different this year. In 1988, famed author Paula Wolfert published her World of Food. Tucked away is this rather complicated and rather awesome French turkey idea.

Yes, you put the stuffing in the bird. The book is that old. And the stuffing is a mixture of sautéed mushroom, prosciutto, walnuts and white sausage. But wait, there’s more. More stuffing.

Paula has you make packets of onion layers and stuff them with prosciutto, turkey liver, Swiss chard, bead, and parsley. You fill up the onion layer with another stuffing, roll it up like a football, and let them — about 20 of them — sit next to the roasting turkey in its final hour in the oven.

Suzen is going to look at this recipe and declare it to be a lot of work. And a lot of stuffing. I’m going to have to rehearse my trembling lip routine. It has worked in the past. It will again!

Stuffed Young Turkey Auvergne Style

Yield: serves 8


  • 1 fresh 12-pound turkey with giblets
  • 5 large sweet onions

For the turkey stuffing:

  • 8 ounces wild mushrooms, preferably cepes, porcini, stone, or Steinpilz, fresh or canned (1 ¼ cups), or substitute fresh portobello, cremini, or shiitake mushrooms
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • ⅓ cup (1 ½ ounces) walnuts
  • 4 shallots, chopped fine
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped fine
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ pound white-meat sausage (boudins blanc, Weisswurst, or Bratwurst), pricked 3 or 4 times on each side
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 3 tablespoons Cognac, previously flamed
  • 1 cup cubed stale crustless white bread
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

For the stuffed onions [enough for about 24 onion layers/leaves]:

  • 3 ounces prosciutto, diced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped shallots
  • Turkey liver, gizzard, and heart, cleaned, trimmed and cut up
  • ⅓ cup chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 6 medium-sized leaves of Swiss chard, stalks removed, blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes, drained, and squeezed dry (⅓ cup)
  • 1 ½ cups (2 ounces) cubed stale crustless white bread
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper, and grated nutmeg to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2cups unsalted rich poultry stock


Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey cavity; save the liver, gizzard, and heart for stuffing the onions. (Use the neck to make stock). Rinse the turkey, dry it thoroughly with paper toweling, and season the cavity and skin with salt and pepper. Wrap the turkey in such a way that the breast is not covered. Refrigerate until you are ready to stuff and roast it.

Prepare the stuffing for the turkey. Slice thin the mushrooms and chop the stems. In an 8-inch skillet over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter, add the mushrooms and prosciutto, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Add the walnuts and brown them lightly, then stir in the chopped shallots and garlic, and sauté, stirring, for 30 seconds. Scrape the contents of the skillet into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the skillet, and slowly brown the sausages on all sides. Drain, cool, cut up, and put the sausages in the workbowl of a food processor, and process until they are ground coarse. In a large bowl, toss them with parsley, thyme, and mushroom-and-prosciutto mixture. Mix thoroughly, adding at the same time the flamed Cognac. (If making the stuffing one day in advance, set it aside to cool, then cover and refrigerate.) Just before stuffing the turkey, soak the bread cubes in milk 5 minutes, then squeeze gently, and toss lightly to render it fluffy. Add the bread to the stuffing and mix thoroughly, then fold in the beaten eggs. Correct the seasoning. Makes about 1 quart stuffing. Cool and set aside.

Peel the whole onions. Make a lengthwise slit in each onion, just halfway through. Drop the onions into boiling salted water and cook them for 15 minutes. Drain and refresh them under cool running water. Discard the thickest outer layers. Separate the layers, reserving only the 4 or 5 largest from each onion. (Use the remainder for soup or a puree, see notes below.) Place the onion cups on a work surface: season with pepper and a pinch of salt. (Up to this point the recipe can be prepared 1 day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.)

Prepare the stuffing for the onions. In a small nonstick skillet cook the prosciutto and shallots for 30 seconds, stirring; remove the skillet from the heat. Combine the liver, heart and gizzard, the stock, and flour in the workbowl of a food processor and process until they are ground fine. Chop the Swiss chard by hand. Soak the bread in milk and squeeze out excess moisture. With a fork mash the egg and bread until they are light and well combined. Mash in the liver mixture, prosciutto, chopped Swiss chard, and the parsley, mixing well. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Makes about 3 cups.

Four hours before serving, preheat the oven to 325° F. Place a handful of the stuffing in the neck cavity and secure it closed. Fill the main cavity with the remaining stuffing, but do not pack it in because of expansion during cooking. Tuck the wing tips behind and truss the bird if necessary (some birds come with wire locks to hold the legs tight to the body). Generously rub the bird with the softened butter and oil. Place the turkey breast side up in a V-rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast for about 214 hours, basting occasionally. If the turkey begins to brown too quickly, cover it loosely with foil (remove the foil during the last 30 minutes of roasting).

Meanwhile, fill each onion cup with a heaping tablespoon of stuffing. Roll them up jelly-roll style into football shapes. Place the onions in a buttered shallow 9-by-16-inch baking dish. Pour over 14 cup poultry stock, cover with foil, and bake 1 hour, basting every 20 minutes.

When the turkey has roasted 214 hours, remove all the fat around it: surround with the stuffed onions and their cooking juices. Continue roasting the turkey until thoroughly cooked, about 30 minutes longer. The turkey is done when an instant meat thermometer registers 180°-185° F when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh. Remove the turkey from the oven; tent it with foil to keep it warm. Let it stand 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Raise the oven heat to 400° F and continue cooking the onions, basting them with the combined turkey and onion juices and allowing them to glaze on all sides, about 20 minutes. Transfer the onions to a side serving dish; cover them and keep warm. Add the remaining stock to the roasting pan, stir up all the brown bits, and pour the stock into a saucepan. Degrease, then reduce to 114 cups over high heat. Adjust the seasoning and reserve.

Remove the stuffing from the turkey and moisten with 1/2 cup of the reserved pan juices. Carve the turkey, and surround it with stuffing, stuffed onions, and perhaps some sautéed salsify. Pour the remaining pan juices into a sauceboat, adjust the seasoning and serve hot.

Source: Paula Wolfert’s World of Food by Paula Wolfert [Harper and Row, 1988]