Around Thanksgiving, you won’t find 15 pound turkeys at any of the French grocery stores in France because Thanksgiving is an American and a Canadian holiday. You can however find plenty of turkey drumsticks, turkey deli meats and turkey breasts all year round but never a whole turkey. The exception is at Christmas time.
Christmas Turkey (Dinde De Noel)
Whole turkeys in France are usually reserved for the Christmas Eve meal (“réveillon de Noël”). It’s called a Christmas Turkey (“Dinde de Noel” ) and it’s been a French tradition to serve a stuffed roasted turkey for Christmas since the 19th century. Prior to that, only the rich could afford turkey- it was still fairly rare in Europe and considered an exotic dish.
Christmas Eve meal (“réveillon de Noël”)
In Belgium, Brazil, France, Portugal, Romania, the province of Québec, New Orleans, and several other French-speaking places, a réveillon is a long dinner held on the evenings preceding Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The name of this dinner is based on the word réveil (meaning “waking”), because one usually has to stay awake until midnight and beyond to enjoy it. The food eaten at réveillons is generally exceptional or luxurious. (source via wiki)
Like North Americans, the French have their own unique way of cooking a roasted turkey for the holidays but using cranberries in the stuffing or as a side dish is not one of the ingredients the French typically use in the French turkey recipes.
Instead, you’re more likely to find a rotating list of ingredients which many North Americans might not be accustomed to using in their holiday turkey recipes such as..
- Boudin blanc (white sausage)
- Foie Gras ( goose or duck liver)
- Boudin noir ( black sausage: which is essentially blood sausages)
- Escargot: snails (not so common but recipes exist and I have included a recipe in this article)
- Pain d’épice (gingerbread)
Of course French cooks use other ingredients like apples and mushrooms but these are the ingredients I thought were the least used in North American recipes- in other words “more French”.
You might be interested in reading Weird foods: Can you stomach New Years Eve in True French style?
Cooking a French turkey: the French way
In addition to using ingredients not typical in North American holiday turkey recipes, the French tend to cook their holiday turkey a little differently too. For instance, instead of dry roasting, they roast their birds with a stock in the roasting tin, which keeps the flesh moist, juicy and fall apart tender. (in general but not always, it just depends on the recipe).
Here are 7 actual French recipes in French with links to the translated English version of that recipe (so you know they’re really French). And remember that Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in France so these recipes are usually reserved for the Christmas meal in France but I think they would make an equally interesting and delicious Thanksgiving meal if you don’t mind using certain French ingredients.
1.) Christmas turkey stuffed with foie gras and apples
Original recipe in French is here:(Dinde de Noël farcie au foie gras et aux pommes)
2.) Stuffed Turkey Roasted With Escargot butter (Snail butter)
Original recipe in French is here: (Dinde farcie rôtie au beurre d’escargot)
3.) Turkey stuffed with gingerbread and foie gras
Original recipe in French is here:(Dinde farcie au pain d’épice et foie gras)
4.) Turkey with chestnuts and chanterelle mushrooms ( and truffles)
Original recipe in French is here: (Dinde aux champignons et marrons fondants)
The translated version of Turkey with chestnuts and chanterelle mushrooms ( and truffles) is here.
5.) Stuffed turkey with morel mushrooms and pan-fried chestnuts
Original recipe in French is here:(Dinde farcie aux morilles, poêlée de marrons)
The translated version of Stuffed turkey with morel mushrooms and pan-fried chestnut is here.
6.) Christmas turkey stuffed with dried apricots
Original recipe in French is here:(Dinde de Noël farcie aux abricots secs)
The translated version of this Turkey stuffed with dried apricots is here.
7.) Black and white stuffed turkey (guess what the black and white ingredients are!)
Original recipe in French is here:(Dinde farcie en noir et blanc)
The translated version of Black and white stuffed turkey recipe is here.
This recipe deserves a little explanation: What is the black and white part?
The black ingredient is Boudin Noir :
A blood sausage which gets its colour from the main ingredient which is pigs blood)
The white ingredient is Boudin Blanc :
A white looking sausage usually made with a white meat such as ground pork-sometimes referred to in English as white pudding. It can be found in grocery stores throughout France all year round but is most popular during the holiday seasons.
Although the spices used to make these white sausages can vary depending on the recipe, all boudin blanc contain bread crumbs and cream which are then slowly boiled in water which is what gives these sausages their white appearance.
Where to buy boudin blanc and boudin noir
If you’re lucky you might be able to find some boudin blanc and boudin noir at your local grocery store. Especially if they carry French products. If not, you can safely purchase boudin blanc and boudin noir online since it freezes well.
For you ambitious people determined to make your own boudin blanc, you can make boudin blanc or any sausage for that matter at home if you have the proper sausage making tools which include a sausage stuffer and sausage casings to stuff the meat into. If you have a meat meat grinder, you can grind your own meat. If you already have a KitchenAid mixer, you can simply buy some Kitchenaid attachements which does everything I described above.
Here are some Turkey and Thanksgiving vocabulary for you.
In France French people call Thanksgiving “Le Thanksgiving” but in Quebec it is called “jour de l’action de grace” .
- Une dinde = turkey
- Roasted turkey = dinde rôtie
- gravy sauce = la sauce du rôti
- La farce = the stuffing
- mashed potatoes = purée de pommes de terres
- marrons or les châtaignes= Chestnuts
- pumpkin pie =tarte à la citrouille
- apple pie = tarte aux pommes.
French expressions using the word turkey
- Etre le dindon de la farce. = To fall victim to, to be duped.
- Une dinde= A stupid, pretentious woman.