“Greek” Turkey Stuffing

by Sava

When I was little, I remember my grandfather, my Papou, and our next door neighbors who happened to be Greek, roasting chestnuts on fall nights over a bonfire  in the back yard. He would then peel them and share them with us. I didn’t really like them, but ate them anyway cause it seemed so “special” to have roasted chestnuts. What was really special was sitting around that bonfire with grownups at night past my bedtime, listening to the Greek conversations and laughter.

On Thanksgiving, our relatives and we would take turns having dinner at our various homes. One family lived in Ipswich, Mass; one in Portland, ME; one in So Portland, ME; one in Cape Elizabeth, ME; and we lived in Nashua, NH. All we cousins had great fun playing and running around while the adults prepared the wonderful turkey dinner. The traditional turkey stuffing was made with chestnuts. In all these years, it has never occurred to me to add chestnuts to my favorite bread stuffing, probably because I was never a fan of  chestnuts. And I must say, I didn’t think it was of Greek origin, so I did a little research and actually discovered an interesting fact. Large chestnuts are grown in the mountains of the Peloponnese and they have developed many ways of using them there. This Greek stuffing was used for barbecued roasts in Greece, but is equally delicious for the American Thanksgiving turkey. Since my mother’s parents came here from the Peloponnese, it explains where this idea of putting chestnuts in turkey dressing came from. I don’t actually have her recipe, but found one that has the ingredients I remember eating back in the Thanksgivings of my childhood. This recipe I found in an old Greek cookbook my parents gave me in 1976 called The Complete Greek Cookbook.

Chestnut Dressing Peloponnesus

1 lb bulk sausage                                              2 cups chicken broth

3 onions, chopped                                          1 loaf of bread (a baguette is good)

1 whole head of celery, chopped             2 eggs

1 bunch parsley, chopped                          1 can chestnuts, chopped

1 tbsp poultry seasoning                            18 calamata olives, chopped

2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper

Fry sausage over medium heat. Add onions, celery and parsley, cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add herbs,  seasonings and broth. Cover and cook 15 minutes on low heat.

Make breadcrumbs from bread using blender or chop into small chunks. Add to pan, toss, and mix well with onion mixture. Cover, turn off heat and allow to steam 15 minutes. Mix in eggs, chestnuts and olives. Stuff turkey and bake any remaining dressing in covered dish at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or less.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and have fun making some special memories.

See you next time.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lou Sardonis November 24, 2010 at 11:51 am

Chestnuts sound good in a stuffing. I’ll bet they taste better than they sound (do they make noise when you’re cooking them?) Funny, I can’t quite recall this recipe even though I was there. I’m your brother. Do you remember me? Hahaha


Sava November 25, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Yes, Lou, I remember you (funny guy!!). I guess chestnuts don’t have a lot of flavor but they add texture to the stuffing. You were probably too little to remember it, but maybe you should try making it and see if you do like it!?! And maybe you wouldn’t eat stuffing back then…just the sweet cranberry sauce. I still like that, too, especially on turkey sandwiches the next day! YUM!! Later…


Trio November 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Sava..In addition to the traditional stuffing I’ll make tonight, I made yours last night. It’s 1/2 gone today. Jake and his friends didn’t think it was for T-Giving because it was cooked too soon. Incidently I use Ciabeatta bread and 1 oz of Ouzo. xxxx


Sava November 25, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Hi Trio. The ciabatta bread would be perfect, but ouzo? Not so much. Too bad those guys, who are always hungry, ate half of it before the dinner! You have to try to find good hiding places when you don’t want something you make ahead to disappear before its time. Of course, they are very good at finding those places…just ask me. Oh, well, it’s good you are making other stuffing, too. And knowing the way the Comas branch cooks you will have, at least, a dozen other side dishes to fill up on. Enjoy!


Garifalia November 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I was so happy to see some one else made Greek Dressing (we called it yemisi) almost exactly like my moms and yiaya’s. A few differences were: Half pork half ground beef, Raisins instead of olives, a splash of red wine about 5 min before it is done…. Make the night before and put in fridge so that it’s the same temp as the turkey… safer cooking a stuffed bird that way ;o)
(I’m with you! no ouzo in this… just drink it while your cooking! Have a great Greek Thanksgiving… Rosann


Garifalia November 22, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Oh yeah! and throw in a big handful of toasted pine nuts….


Sava November 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Hi, I’m so happy you found last year’s blog about “Greek” Turkey Stuffing! I imagine, as with many recipes, each family has its own rendition, which makes it their tradition. The addition of toasted pine nuts would be excellent! Please subscribe to the site if you haven’t yet and you will be notified when I post something new. Thank you so much for commenting! Yassou!


Nia November 20, 2013 at 9:26 am

My yiayia’s recipe called for chicken livers, bacon, and ground beef. I did not know it was Greek but thought it was from up north(mass.) until I took a food anthropology course and used Greek food as my term paper topic.
I kind of changed it up. Lessening the amount of chicken livers and adding the bacon fat. My mom taught me to put chestnuts, meat and livers through a grinder. It is work but I think it improves the consistency and makes it a true dressing.
My family loves it.


Sava December 14, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Hi Nia, Sorry it has taken me this long to answer. I somehow overlooked your comment. As much as I love fried chicken livers with oregano and lemon juice, I don’t care for what is sometimes an overwhelming liver flavor so I would not put it in my dressing. As I mentioned to another person who commented, each family has its own rendition of a recipe which becomes their family tradition. I assume you are Greek since you mentioned your Yiayia. She probably had a lot of recipes she made “her own”. Now it is your turn! Yia sou!!


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