Guys I need your advise about stuffing a turkey

Joined Apr 9, 2018

1. So I really want to make the same recipe of Gordon Ramsay here it looks AMAZING however there is one huge problem, I have two people on my dining table that cannot eat any milk type product so the main ingredient here which was the butter balls he stuffed the turkey with .. do you have ideas what else I can do instead of butter but kinda with the same concept?

2. Is it a smart idea to stuff a turkey with a risotto ? if yes would I cook the risotto normally or like only half cook it then shove it into the turkey ? ( because if I cook it properly and then shove it into the turkey it may go super dry no ? )
Joined Oct 1, 2006
Hi David,

You just need to open your perceptions to ALL ingredients! You already recognized the issues with stuffing the bird with risotto. If fully cooked, it will turn over cooked and if undercooked the water will probably not distribute evenly because the rice closest to the water source will absorb until it can't, and the rice a few inches away won't have access.

You have the mind for cooking! Recipes are a guide or starting point for you to adapt to the flavors you like.

There is a great cooking lesson here! Substitute one fat for another fat.

Not only in this recipe, but most any recipe, you can replace one fat for another. (Baking is a different story, for sure!) If you think through the functionality the fat is there for. If the fat is primarily there for flavor or a lubricant, you can substitute.
Think about all the different oils you could use for a salad dressing. "The recipe calls for____ oil, and I ran out. I can't make a salad dressing I guess" Really? Cooking is creativity and science.

I'm in America and when I roast a Turkey, I typically use a Turkey fat roux for the gravy. I never saw a recipe for this but it made sense to me and I really don't like waste. Just like a Chicken fat roux for a Chicken Gravy. It's not so healthy, but delicious and might be thrown out by others.

Dairy intolerance has to do with milk proteins, not just lactose. Ghee will only affect those people that have a severe dairy intolerance. You might ask your friends to check with their doctor as to their severity level. They may be able to use Ghee because of really minute quantities of any protein. That's all down the road though.

I'm not going to watch the video but, just use the flavors that attracted you to this. I think Turkey can stand up to American Bacon fat and refrigeration will solidify. I would add one or more of Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, etc. to the bacon fat before chilling, then make the little balls if you must, and proceed.

Good luck and Happy cooking!
Joined Mar 1, 2017
Hello David and welcome! :)

What Ramsay is doing in this video is he is stuffing the bird with onions and lemons which will become hot and steam inside the bird. That steaming action will help cook the bird from the inside. As you can see from the video, Ramsay removes the lemon and onion from the turkey and cooks it even further to make gravy.

The reason why Ramsay does this is because whatever happens to be in the cavity of the bird will likely not cook thoroughly and will collect uncooked juices. This is why Ramsay cooks the lemons and the onion further and turns them into gravy. Otherwise, he would probably throw them out. But, chefs hate to waste things that are jammed packed with flavor. This is why we often use the scraps from prep to make things like stocks and broths.

Now, just think of what would be collected if the cavity of the bird was stuffed with rice or risotto or some type of bread stuffing. Those starchy ingredients would literally absorb much of the bird's juices, including juices that are not cooked and I don't think I have to explain how potentially bad that can be. Also, starchy ingredients tend to act as a dampener in the cooking process because they will absorb heat and not allow the bird to cook thoroughly and evenly. The larger the bird, the greater this effect will be.

So, this presents a bit of a dilemma. We want to take advantage of the opportunity to add flavor to the bird by stuffing the cavity with flavorful, aromatic ingredients but, we also want the bird to cook thoroughly and evenly. Ramsay resolves that dilemma in a beautiful way by stuffing the bird with halved onions and lemons. But, you could take advantage of that idea and use any fruit and/or vegetable combination as long as those ingredients have enough moisture to steam during roasting. Apples, oranges, shallots, pears, grapes, leaks, fennel, celery etc. along with any herbs or any combination should work just fine. After all, you are the Sultan of your Turkey. (Sorry, couldn't resist) What you want to avoid using are starchy or dense ingredients like carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc.

A great idea that would marry the risotto idea with the flavor of the bird is prepare risotto separately and then add the juices from the roasted bird to the risotto liquid as the rice cooks. That would be a wonderful alternative to the usual and tired dressing/stuffing approach.

Good Luck! :)
Joined Jul 13, 2012
I never stuff a bird period. The internal temperature needed to cook a stuffing to 170F will result in an over cooked bird. I always bake my stuffing on the side and people like it better as there is more crispy area to enjoy.

As for stuffing butter under the skin you can do the same with duck fat, bacon drippings, etc. - do the seasoning and put it in the fridge to tighten up then stuff under the skin. I don't slather my turkey on the outside. I grease a brown paper bag (no ink) and tent the bird with that and it becomes self basting.

I was at a Christmas party a few years ago and the hostess was lactose intolerant and boiled potatoes for mash - Hmmmmm. I used pan drippings to mash the potatoes with and everyone said they were the best mashed potatoes they'd ever had.

Adapt - improvise - overcome. You can do it!!
Joined Apr 3, 2008
I prefer to rub my birds with olive oil. It makes a better crisped skin imo.

I never stuff birds either. I only place aromatics in the carcass. A bird is not an oven. If you really want that mushy steamed stuffing (many people do) you can achieve it by adding drippings and turkey stock to your stuffing and keeping it completely covered while it bakes. It will have the same flavor but won’t compromise the cooking of the bird.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I never "stuff" my turkey. Not only does it create cooking issues (by the time the stuffing is hot enough the breast is way over cooked), I also don't get my favorite part of the stuffing (dressing), the crispy parts on the bottom and sides of the pan. That being said, I do pack the cavity of the bird with large chunks of onion, garlic gloves, herbs (usually sage, thyme, rosemary or any combination of those) and either lemons or oranges and a bit of butter. This is after rubbing the cavity with a hefty dose of salt and pepper.
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