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Turkey time: Try this unique spin on stuffed turkey for your holiday table

By Mario Batali, Tribune Content Agency on

I'm expecting to welcome a half dozen of my son's college friends with big appetites to the Batali household this Thanksgiving; so naturally, this means being ready with a variety of antipasti and snacks for the week. As always, I'll work my way backwards with menu planning and ingredient prep so come Thursday, I've maximized leisure time and have minimal cleanup. If you're like me and you plan to cook for a large group this year, look no further than stuffed turkey with apples and walnuts.

When I first made this turkey years ago, my wife Susi wasn't pleased with the abstract-looking sausage we were about to feed our family and guests. I have to admit, even I was wondering if this was too untraditional for Thanksgiving. One slice into this succulent roast, though, and all doubts delightfully subsided. Our entire table agreed that nothing could be better than perfectly tender meat filled with stuffing, all encased in a crisp and well-seasoned skin. Plus, the advantages of this untraditional method are twofold: It's in the oven for just about an hour, and carving is simple. (Cut straight through like a regular roast, and your turkey will be on the table within minutes.

The trifecta of flavors in this dish is also fantastic. The combination of walnuts, sausage and apples (I like to use Ginger Crisp apples from Michigan) are a kind of holy trinity in poultry cooking, and when laced with fresh nutmeg and sage, the trio becomes magical. Take a chance this Thanksgiving, and discover the beauty, ease and deliciousness of this recipe. Follow my lead, and you'll see why it's my favorite way to cook a turkey.

Stuffed Turkey with Apples and Walnuts

Serves 8 to 12

1 whole turkey breast boned, halved, and butterflied by your butcher (5 to 6 pounds)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound turkey sausage

2 apples peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (such as Ginger Crisp)

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