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Italian Thanksgiving


Juniper-Berry-Roasted Turkey Breast With Boston Lettuce  

Fabio Trabocchi
Chef-partner, Fiamma

Italian chef Fabio Trabocchi discovered his love of Thanksgiving while working long hours at Maestro, an Italian restaurant, in McLean, Virginia. “I hardly ever saw my family, and so I began to appreciate the importance of Thanksgiving,” says Trabocchi, who recently moved to New York to run the kitchen at Fiamma. One thing Trabocchi doesn’t like about traditional American Thanksgiving is dry turkey. To address that, he cooks his bird’s breast and legs separately and seasons with juniper berries, rosemary, and sage—a traditional Italian combination. Bollito misto, a hearty Italian dish of various boiled meats, is Trabocchi’s inspiration for the “galantina” of turkey legs, which he stuffs with chestnuts and fall mushrooms. Instead of serving mashed potatoes, Trabocchi makes a potato-gnocchi gratin topped with Robiola Bosina cheese (“The cheese makes my kids happy,” he says), and a smooth purée of roasted butternut squash. For dessert, Trabocchi wanted something more festive than pumpkin pie, which he admits he doesn’t like (“The consistency and texture are too dense for me,” he says). Instead, he makes a citrusy cranberry jam that normally accompanies the turkey and serves it with chunks of bread sautéed in butter and sugar and topped with rum-raisin ice cream. “Everyone loves this dessert,” he says. “It reminds them of their childhood in Italy, eating pane tostato.”


Juniper-Berry-Roasted Turkey Breast With Boston Lettuce
Rolled Turkey Legs Stuffed With Chestnuts and Wild Mushrooms
Potato-Gnocchi Gratin
Butternut-Squash Purée
Sautéed Country Bread With Cranberry Jam

Juniper-Berry-Roasted Turkey Breast With Boston Lettuce
1 turkey breast, on the bone, about 3 1/2 pounds
Salt and black pepper
2 sticks butter, softened
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
3 sprigs rosemary
1 small bunch sage
4 teaspoons crushed juniper berries
2 heads Boston lettuce
11/2 cups white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Sicilian sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Remove the turkey breast from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking. Season all sides of the breast with salt and pepper, cover with a towel, and let sit for another 30 minutes.

Place the turkey breast in a roasting pan just big enough to hold the breast, making it a tight fit. Rub the top of the breast with a stick of butter, and place the head of garlic on breast, cut side down. Set in the oven, and when the butter has melted, start basting the breast with the juices in the bottom of the pan. Repeat this process 3 times during the first 20 minutes of cooking.

Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees; add the remaining butter, herbs, and the juniper berries. Repeat the basting process for another 20 minutes. Switch off the oven, cover the breast with foil, and leave in the oven for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, discard the outer leaves from the lettuces; put the light-green inner leaves in a salad bowl and refrigerate.

Remove the turkey breast from the roasting pan, place on a cutting board, and remove the bone from the breast. Cover the breast with foil, and chop up the bones. Drain the fat from the roasting pan, and place over medium-high heat; add the bones, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the bottom of the pan begins to caramelize, increase the heat to high, add the white wine, and reduce by two thirds; then add the stock, and reduce by half. Strain the liquid through a sieve, pressing on the bones with a wooden spoon. Season the roasting jus with salt and pepper.

Toss the lettuce with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon Sicilian sea salt. Thinly slice the turkey breast, and arrange on a platter, alternating each slice with a lettuce leaf. Drizzle the roasting jus all over the plate, and sprinkle with the remaining sea salt.

Rolled Turkey Legs  

Rolled Turkey Legs Stuffed With Chestnuts and Wild Mushrooms
2 whole turkey legs (ask the butcher to bone and remove tendons and partially flatten the surface to make it even, leaving the skin on)
Salt and black pepper
1 pound mixed mushrooms (white button, shiitake, chanterelle, porcini, or morel)
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup blanched, diced chestnuts
2 egg whites
1/2 cup white-bread crumbs, soaked in milk
4 quarts chicken stock
4 teaspoons chopped Italian parsley

Place two pieces of plastic wrap two inches larger than the boned turkey legs on the counter, set the legs on top, and cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Pound the surface of the meat with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin until the meats become similar thickness and rectangular in shape. Remove the top piece of plastic, and season the legs on both sides with salt and pepper. Let the legs sit covered for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the mushrooms in half, removing the stems from the shiitakes. Melt the butter in a sauté pan, add the mushrooms, and cook quickly over high heat until wilted. Place the mushrooms on a rack to cool. Chop the mushrooms finely, and place in a large bowl with the chestnuts and egg whites. Squeeze out the excess milk from the bread, and add to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and fold the ingredients together until combined.

Place the filling down the middle of each flattened turkey leg, and roll lengthwise to form a sausage shape. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to set. Wrap the stuffed turkey legs in cheesecloth, and tie each end with butcher’s string. Place on a plate, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 20 minutes before cooking.

Add the chicken stock to a large pot set over medium-low heat, and bring to a simmer. Slide in the turkey legs, cover the pot, and cook slowly, barely simmering, for about 3 hours. Remove the turkey legs from the liquid, and allow them to rest in a warm place, covered with foil, for about 20 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth, and slice the leg into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Arrange on a large, deep dish and sprinkle the surface with parsley. Serve with the cooking broth.

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