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Growing up in South Africa we never really had turkey. So when I moved to the states I had to cook my very first turkey for Thanksgiving. And it was a huge disaster. I didn’t leave enough time for the bird to thaw so it was frozen.

Last year I was lucky enough to collaborate with my amazing friend Chef Luca Moriconi, the head chef at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. We created a cookbook “An Italian Thanksgiving”. And included this turkey recipe which is often found on Christmas tables across Italy.

The best part is that this recipe uses olive oil instead of butter so it is 100% kosher.

Our Italian cookbook is chock full of out-of-the-box Italian dishes to help you whip up a feast. So grab your copy. We also included a shopping list as well as a timetable detailing all the prep and cooking you need to do on the day so it is super simple.

Wishing you a wonderful thanksgiving.

Xxx MM


Chestnut Stuffed Turkey

  • Author: Melissa Mayo


  • 1416lbs / 7kg young turkey
  • 5 sprigs of fresh sage
  • 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 head / 12 cloves garlic – finely chopped
  • 3 TBS coarse salt
  • 1 TBS freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 large red onion – quartered, skin on
  • 1 cup peeled chestnuts (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  • Roasted neck bones
  • Juices from the turkey pan
  • Onion from inside the turkey cavity – chopped
  • Chestnuts from inside the turkey cavity – chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 tbs cornstarch – dissolved in ½ cup cold water
  • Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste



Preheat the oven to 425°F /220 C.

Bring the turkey to room temperature. Remove the neck and anything inside the cavity. Cut the neck into 1-inch chunks and place them at the bottom of the roasting pan.

Wash the turkey inside and out and pat it dry with paper towels. Use your hands to gently create a cavity between the turkey breast and the skin. Finely chop the sage, rosemary, thyme, and garlic. Add the salt and pepper to the mixture. Place half of the mixture inside the cavity and the other half between the breast and skin. Add the onion and chestnuts to the cavity. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey. Generously drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and cook at 425°F /220 C for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F/175 C and cook for another 2¼ hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Remove the turkey and place it on a cutting board.

Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 2½ hours at room temperature. Set aside the bones and liquid to be used for the gravy. Reheat in the oven at 300°F for 15 minutes. Slice turkey and serve.


Place the roasting tray with the neck bones and juices on a burner over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and chestnuts from inside the cavity. Add water, raisins, and cornstarch mixture. Whisk over medium heat until it thickens into a sauce (5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the neck bones and pour the gravy into a sauceboat.



The turkey needs to rest for at least the same amount of time it cooked. So you can make this earlier in the day. Cover with foil and reheat.

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I'm Melissa, your host & tour guide.

A Food Network chef, author, mamma, eternal optimist, wannabe-mermaid, spice mixologist, and “dough therapist” (yep, it’s a thing)—

I'm also the founder of Susina Cucina, the gorgeous, Italian cooking school I manifested into my reality. I’m obsessed with Aperol spritzes, travel, and mouthwatering food… especially pizza and pasta.

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