Cristina Ferrare’s Turkey Marinade & Stuffing

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Turkey Marinade & Stuffing For Your Thanksgiving Table 

cristina ferrare thanksgiving turkey marinade and stuffing

I’ve tried so many ways over the years to prepare turkey so it will have lots of flavor and not turn out dry. I’ve wrapped them in cheese clothes, soaked them in brine, deep fried, put butter over the skin, under the skin, cooked it stuffed, unstuffed, none of that works like this simple marinade. Everyone who has tried it swears that by using this marinade they end up with the most tender and juicy turkey ever. Using fresh herbs are the secret to the most flavorful gravy.

I introduced this recipe on a local talk show I was hosting in Los Angeles called, “A.M. Los Angeles” over 25 years ago and to this day I have strangers stop me on the streets and in grocery stores to tell me how much the love it! Now I have new generation of converts! Preparing the turkey with this marinade will also yield plenty of gravy that you will want to put on everything!

Turkey Marinade

1 14 to 15 pound organic turkey, empty cavity of bird and the neck and rinse well, pat dry and place in roasting pan

2 & ½ cups Dijon Mustard

1/2 cup olive oil

4 fresh lemons, juiced, save the rinds

1 cup low sodium soy sauce

4 sprigs rosemary

1 bundle sage

1 bundle fresh thyme

1 bundle fresh oregano

1 bundle fresh Italian parsley

8 left over lemon rinds

6 to 8 cups chicken broth, homemade or organic store bought chicken broth

1 to 4 tablespoon arrowroot

2 tablespoons dry sherry

¼ cup chives, chopped

8 to 10 twists of a pepper mill with black peppercorns

1 cup pomegranate seeds

Use a non-reactive bowl and pour all of the marinade over the turkey. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator for up to two days before roasting.

Instructions for roasting the turkey!

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large glass bowl add the Dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, Whisk until well incorporated. Take half of the herbs from each bundle; place one half inside the cavity of the bird along with the left over lemon rinds. Pour all of the marinade all over the turkey then crack fresh pepper over the top, 8 to 10 twist of the pepper mill should do it! Scatter the remainder of the herbs on top of turkey and in roasting pan.
  3. Tie the legs together with twine and cover the tips of the legs and wings with aluminum foil (this prevents the tips from burning while roasting) Tie a string around the bird to keep the wings in place.
  4. Cut several pieces of heavy aluminum foil large enough to cover the roasting pan and turkey. Spray the insides of foil with cooking spray. Cover the turkey with the foil so steam can’t escape. (If you are using a roasting pan with a lid no need to use foil.) Roast for 1 & 1/2 hours undisturbed. Remove the foil and check the turkey, the color will be beige, add 3 cups of chicken stock and stir the bottom of the pan to loosen the bits that have formed on the bottom and sides.
  5. Baste the turkey all over. Roast another 1/2 hour and add another cup of chicken stock. Scrap the bottom of the pan again, baste.
  6. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast without touching the bone. Continue roasting uncovered basting every 15 minutes for another hour. Continue to baste every 15 minutes until the thermometer registers 160 degrees. If the pan juices start to dry out add another cup of chicken stock. The whole process should take approximately 3 & 3/4 hours depending on your oven that is why it is important to watch the thermometer and remove the turkey at 160 degrees. The turkey will continue to cook while resting. It will rise at least 5 more degrees. It is done when it reaches 165 F.
  7. Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Cover loosely with foil to keep it warm. Let it rest at least for 15 to 20 minutes before you carve.
  8. Remove thermometer before you carve and after the turkey has time to sit. If you remove the thermometer immediately after taking the turkey out of the oven juices will escape.


Pour what ever chicken broth you have left into the roasting pan, scrap the sides with a wooden spoon to release any of the bits that are on the bottom or corners. Strain into a saucepan and use a large spoon to remove oil that has risen to the top, bring it to a gentle boil.

In a small cup combine 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of cold water and mix well. Pour into the saucepan and stir to thicken. If you wish to have thicker gravy continue the same process until you get the thickness you like. Add the sherry and simmer for one minute then add the fresh chives. Carve the turkey and arrange on a large platter dividing the white meat from the dark. Ladle some of the gravy over the top of the turkey to help keep it moist and garnish with fresh parsley and pomegranates! Give 2 to 3 turns of black pepper over the top of the turkey.

cristina ferrare thanksgiving turkey marinade and stuffing


  1. Basting is extremely important if you want to have a moist golden turkey.
  2. The aluminum foil on the tips of the wings and legs will keep them from burning while baking.
  3. The instant read thermometer should not touch the bone. It will give you a false reading of the temperature.
  4. Remove thermometer before you carve and after the turkey has time to sit. If you remove the thermometer immediately, the juices will escape from the turkey. Let it settle first.

I added the temperature charts for cooking turkey including Stuffed.

I personally DO NOT stuff my turkey. The juices are absorbed it into the stuffing drying out the turkey. It also changed the flavor of my stuffing giving it a gamey taste, which I’m not too fond of.


4 to 6 lb breast…..1 -1/2 to 2- 1/4 hrs
6 to 8 lb breast…2 -1/4 to 3- 1/4 hrs
8 to 12 lbs…………….2- 3/4 to 3 hrs
12 to 14 lbs…………..3 to 3 -3/4 hrs
14 to 18 lbs……..3- 3/4 to 4- 1/4 hrs
18 to 20 lbs……..4 -1/4 to 4- 1/2 hrs
20 to 24 lbs…………..4 -1/2 to 5 hrs


8 to 12 lbs……………3 to 3 -1/2 hrs
12 to 14 lbs…………..3 -1/2 to 4 hrs
14 to 18 lbs…………..4 to 4 -1/4 hrs
18 to 20 lbs……..4- 1/4 to 4- 3/4 hrs
20 to 24 lbs……..4- 3/4 to 5 -1/4hr


cristina ferrare thanksgiving turkey marinade and stuffing

1-1/2 pounds (24 ounces) sour dough bread, cut into 1″ inch cubes
4 sweet Italian sausages (optional)
¼ cups extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions sliced thin
5 tablespoons unsalted organic butter

8 scallions, diced
2 large carrots, diced into small pieces
6 celery ribs, sliced into 3 long strips then chopped into 1/4″ inch pieces

2 cups sliced mushrooms
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cans (10) ounces cream of organic cream of celery soup. If you can’t find organic cream of celery soup Campbell’s Cream of Celery soup will work just fine
1 quart home made or store bought organic chicken broth
1 cup fresh orange juice
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped coarsely
2-½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 green apples, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1/2″ inch pieces
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns

Have all of your ingredients prepared ahead and lined up before you start to cook.

cristina ferrare thanksgiving turkey marinade and stuffing

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Slice the sourdough bread into 1″ inch cubes and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake the cubes for 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden on all sides. Make sure to turn the baking sheet around at least once during baking and use a metal spatula to turn over the cubes so the other side can bake.
Remove the bread cubes from the oven and let them rest uncovered for 24 hours to let them dry out. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. Will keep for 3 weeks.

Place the cubes of bread into a large bowl. (Make sure the bowl is large enough to hold all the ingredients you will be adding). Set aside


If adding sausage, Place the sausages on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until cooked through turning 3 to 4 time while baking to make sure all sides are brown. Remove from the oven and wait at least 10 minutes and chop into small bit size pieces. Set-aside until ready to use.

Heat a large heavy skillet on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Pour olive oil into the skillet and coat the bottom with the oil quickly, add the onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the onions start to release their juices, add butter, scallions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and salt. Sauté for 8 to 12 minutes until the vegetables start to caramelize. Pour into the bowl with the sour dough cubes and mix well. Add the cooked sausages, (if using) cream of celery soup, chicken broth, orange juice, mix well.

Add the apples, raisins, cranberries, walnuts, and parsley and mix well. Correct seasoning by adding more kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Pour into a baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. When ready to serve remove the stuffing from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake with the foil on for 30 to 40 minutes until hot in the middle. Test by dipping a spoon into the middle of the stuffing and pull out a small amount. Taste to see if it is hot enough.
Serves 12 to 15

cristina ferrare thanksgiving turkey marinade and stuffing


10 to 12 servings
1. Sour Dough bread is beast for this stuffing. You can make the cubes 1 week before and keep it in an airtight container in your pantry.
If you are making gluten-free just substitute the bread with one pound of gluten free bread and follow recipe

2.You can make the stuffing 1 to 2 weeks before Thanksgiving and freeze it. Make sure to bring it to room temperature before baking. It will take about 2 to 3 hours to thaw.

3.Or Make the stuffing two days before Thanksgiving and keep it covered in the refrigerator tightly with plastic wrap. Make sure to remove the plastic wrap BEFORE baking.

4.If you are vegetarian you can eliminate the sausage, 2 teaspoon of fennel seeds will give you the flavor of Italian sausages but without the meat.

5. You can purchase store bought bread cubes for stuffing but I highly suggest you take the minutes it takes to cut and bake the cubes yourself!

This stuffing is great with chicken and Cornish game hens too!

What are you making this Thanksgiving? Comment below and tag me in your photos @cristinacooks

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