This Thanksgiving or Christmas gluten-free main meal is designed as a non-traditional take of the whole roast turkey spread with stuffed sausage stuffing and plenty of vegetables & potatoes. Everything from the rolled stuffed turkey fillets to the roasted sweet potato salad is designed to make life easier for those who want to plan well ahead and make it the day before and offer something different and slightly casual. Additionally, this could be a great alternative for those celebrating Thanksgiving or Christmas in a warmer climate.  I guarantee you will still taste those typical festive flavours with the following naturally & adapted gluten-free recipes.

Rolled Turkey Fillets wrapped in Bacon

Instead of going through the hassle of preparing a whole turkey that takes so much attention and time away from your busy schedule, opt for these easy, rolled turkey rolls with a mushroom & shallot stuffing, wrapped in bacon. They cook in no time and are equally as delicious, especially when paired off with some homemade gluten-free gravy (video included with step-by-step instructions for homemade gravy) and cranberry sauce. Imagine, no craving or messing with bones etc! Plus, you can use any leftovers turkey slices to create a wholesome salad.

Ingredients:
  • 6 turkey fillets
  • 24 bacon rashers, smoked or unsmoked
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 3 shallots, chopped finely
  • 5 brown or button mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped finely
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Several handfuls of fresh spinach leaves, shredded roughly
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • A handful of fresh cranberries, to decorate (optional)

Serve with:

Equipment needed:

  • At least 18 toothpicks
  • Oblong casserole dish (Lasagne tray)
  • A mallet or rolling pin​
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 45 minutes

1. Melt the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat.

2. Add the shallots and mushrooms, fry for 5 minutes.

3. Add the garlic. Fry for 2 minutes.

4. Add the fresh parsley and sage. Turn the heat off and allow the mixture to cool down. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more if needed. Set aside.

5. Mix the shredded spinach leaves in a small bowl with the ground nutmeg. Set aside.

6. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

7. Flatten the turkey fillets with a mallet or the back of a rolling pin to an even thickness of no more than 2 cm.

8.​ Grease an oblong casserole dish and start assembling the rolled turkey.

9.​ First, arrange 4 bacon rashers slightly overlapping each other.

10. Next, place a turkey fillet on top sideways.

11. Place some spinach leaves in the centre of the turkey fillet, followed by the cooled down mushroom mixture.

12. Gently roll the bacon and turkey fillet until it reaches the end and insert 3 toothpicks to hold the turkey roll together. Place in the casserole dish.

13. Continue with the remaining turkey. Cover the casserole with foil and roast for 20 minutes.

14. Remove the foil, scatter some fresh cranberries on top (optional) and continue roasting for 15 minutes, or until the bacon appears crisp and golden. If you like it extra crispy, turn the grill/broiler on for a few minutes.

15. Remove the toothpicks before serving them either as whole rolls or allow to cool down slightly before slicing them evenly.

  • Makes 6 servings
  • Keeps for 3 days chilled
  • Suitable to freeze either raw or cooked

Gluten-Free Chestnut & Cranberry Sausage Stuffing Balls

This recipe makes preparing and serving to stuff easy and helpful especially if you are not serving a whole turkey to stuff. They look attractive served as golden nuggets of chestnuts, cranberries, bacon and sausage plus packed with nostalgic festive flavours.

Plan ahead by preparing these stuffing balls by either freezing or chilling them before serving. They improve in flavour if made in advance, plus you’ll be pleased to have ticked off one less thing to do on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day.

Which pork sausage is suitable for stuffing?

In certain countries, ready-prepared sausage meat (without the casings & seasoned lightly) are readily available. Alternatively, remove the sausage meat from ready-made mild pork sausages, preferably similar to the English breakfast type like Cumberland. As long as the sausage contents are crumbly and easy to break down. Bratwursts or any highly spiced sausages like Chorizo would not be suitable in the stuffing.

What type of breadcrumbs can be used?

Gluten-free is a definite, but whether you use white, wholemeal, seasoned, homemade or store-bought, is entirely up to your preference. Don’t forget to freeze any leftover gluten-free bread slices or rolls to later break down into valuable gluten-free breadcrumbs. My freezer drawer is packed with a healthy supply of bread and breadcrumbs for so many recipes that call for it. If you want to know how to prepare homemade breadcrumbs, head to my gluten-free sandwich bread blog for instructions.

What other substitutes can I use for dried cranberries?

If dried cranberries are hard to find in your supermarket, substitute them for dried apricots or dried prunes. Just make sure to cut them up into small pieces about the same size as for the dried cranberries.

What about Cointreau or Grand Marnier?

Both Cointreau/Grand Marnier offer that intense “orange” flavour to the stuffing balls, but if for health or religious reasons you prefer to use a non-alcoholic ingredient, use 100ml of freshly squeezed orange juice.

Ingredients:
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 100ml Cointreau
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 smoked bacon rashers, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 30g butter
  • 450g good quality minced pork or gluten-free pork sausage meat
  • 150g store-bought or homemade gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 100-140g peeled & cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste (may not be necessary as bacon is quite salty)
  • Olive oil, for greasing tray & stuffing balls
  • Preparation time: 1 hour, 15 minutes (including 1 hour soaking time for cranberries)
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes

1. Soak the cranberries in the marsala for one hour.

2. In the meantime, fry the onions and bacon gently in the butter over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then.

3. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.

4. Cool slightly, then add all the remaining ingredients, mixing well with your hands (use plastic gloves if you prefer).

5. Season the mixture, however, the best way to taste the stuffing before rolling them all out into balls is to fry a small one as a taste tester.

6. Once you are happy with the seasoning, start rolling the stuffing into golf size balls.

7. Either store & chill them to cook later with your chosen roast meal or cook them in advance on their own. Cook for 30 minutes in a greased roasting tin, turning them over halfway through. Brush or spray some extra olive oil on the stuffing balls if they appear a bit dry.

8. If you want an extra golden touch to the stuffing balls, increase the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F and cook a further 10 minutes, keeping an eye on them so they don’t over-cook.

  • Makes 22-24 stuffing balls
  • Keeps for 3 days chilled
  • Can be reheated in the microwave or oven
  • Suitable to freeze raw or cooked (only freeze raw if the sausage meat was bought fresh and not frozen as refreezing raw meat is not desirable)

ROASTED SWEET POTATO SALAD

If you haven’t tried roasted sweet potato in a salad before, trust me, you will be hooked. In combination with the sweet maple syrup, crispy pecans and earthy cumin and cinnamon, this salad has so much going for it, it could even work as a main with some additional protein like feta or goats’ cheese.

For extra flavour, drizzle a small amount of the * Balsamic honey dressing, a little goes a long way with this type of salad.

Is Balsamic vinegar gluten-free?

For those who are worried if Balsamic vinegar contains gluten, I have checked and as the vinegar is made from grapes, it is gluten-free. Most manufacturers use one exclusive barrel to prepare Balsamic vinegar so rarely will there be any cross-contamination from gluten-containing vinegars like malt vinegar. If in doubt, check the label as they should indicate it is either gluten-free or “may contain gluten” if they are mixing their barrels.

Don’t dress the salad until you are ready to serve!

Perhaps only dress it on your dinner plate, that way you can save some leftovers for the next day, otherwise we all know how sad salad looks after several hours when it has been dressed – limp and soggy!

Ingredients:

Sweet Potato Salad:

  • 4 orange sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small bite-size pieces
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 120ml maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 150g whole pecans
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 150g fresh rocket/rucola/arugula leaves, washed
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
  • 150g feta or goats’ cheese, crumbled (optional)

Balsamic Honey Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons good Balsamic Vinegar (preferably from Modena)
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°.

2. Mix the ground cumin, cinnamon, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

3. Add the bite-size cut sweet potato and coat evenly.

4. Place the sweet potatoes on a roasting tray and roast for 15 minutes. Keep the bowl to one side for the pecans later.

5. Coat the pecan with the leftover marinade bowl and sprinkle the brown sugar over them. Stir and add these on top of the sweet potatoes. Roast for 5 minutes.

6. Remove the sweet potatoes and pecan from the oven and allow to cool.

7. Arrange the rocket leaves on a serving plate, followed by the cool sweet potato and pecans. Add the red onions and optional feta or goats’ cheese on top.

8. Mix all the salad dressing ingredients in a glass or ceramic container.

9. Dress the salad with the balsamic honey dressing just before serving either in the salad bowl or individually.

  • Makes one large salad bowl or 6 individual servings
  • Keeps for 2 days (undressed)
  • Not suitable to freeze

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce is one of the easiest fruit reductions to make that really make a difference to a festive meal by combining aromatic spices like star anise, cinnamon and a generous sliver of orange peel.

 
Some tips when making cranberry sauce:
  • Keep the heat at a medium-low level with the lid on while cooking the cranberries as the heat gently pops the occasional cranberry and can jump out of the pan unexpectantly.
  • Increase the cooking time if you like the sauce to be thick and with some cranberries intact for that extra texture or alternatively, reduce the cooking time and blend into a smooth jam.
  • Use fresh seasonable cranberries, otherwise if unavailable, frozen cranberries can be used. Allow some extra time for them to thaw in the pan while cooking.
Ingredients:
  • 250g Fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • 2 shallots, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 slice of orange peel,
  • juice from 1 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes

1. Melt the butter gently in a small saucepan.

2. Add the chopped shallots and fry over medium heat for 5 minutes.

3. Add the cranberries and mix well.

4. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 20 minutes until the cranberries have softened and reduced slightly.

5. Store in a sterilised jam jar or serve immediately in a bowl.

As a starter, serve some cranberry, walnut & bacon toasts with some pate, seafood terrine or add them to a cheese board at the end of your meal. Left whole and untoasted, these loaves are also a great addition to a bread basket.

To finish off the meal, head to this recipe for a classic take on pumpkin pie but with a gluten-free crust. No prior “blind baking” beforehand – simply make and place the dough in the pie dish and pour the pumpkin mixture in to bake for 40 minutes. It is best to chill the pie for at least 2 hours to get that perfect slice.