There is nothing more inviting on Thanksgiving day then the smell of Turkey cooking in the oven. This year, with no particular plans, we decided on a quick trip to Orlando, Florida, about a 10 hour car ride from Tupelo, Mississippi. Not wanting to miss out on the day, we decided to celebrate last night, with good friends here at home. What a wonderful night.
I cooked the Turkey to be ready early afternoon. The trick to a great turkey is sufficient rest time. I can remember sneaking a taste of it hot out of the oven growing up, but why spoil the surprise.
My mother, being Italian, had to put an Italian spin on an American Classic. So why not? The cavity was filled with sausage and bread stuffing and we all lived to tell about it. This year, I elected to make two stuffing's. To satisfy every one's palate. What transpired was a succulent Turkey, filled with flavor. Just couldn't wait to get to the table.
Ingredients for the Turkey.
One 12 pound turkey, cleaned, giblets removed, neck saved for stock
Rub your fresh or defrosted Turkey with lemon, inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside. In a small stock pot, place your onion, 3 small carrots, 3 small stalks of celery, handful of parsley and a pinch of salt. Cover with water, about 2 liters. When the water boils add you neck bone. Simmer for one hour.
In a large skillet add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat to medium. Add about 12 ounces of ground sausage. You may use chicken sausage if you like. My mother always used pork. Cook until nicely browned. Add a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of ground or some chopped fresh sage, 2 tablespoons fresh Rosemary. Add one cup of white wine and let simmer away. Add a pinch of salt while cooking and a pinch of pepper. Set aside to cool.
Part 2/ Stuffing/ inside the cavity
For this you will need 3 cups of focaccia bread crumbs, coarsely chopped. Leave the pieces rather crumbly if you can rather than fine. It will continue to break down when you add your ingredients.
Into a bowl:
1/2 your sausage (other half for the baking dish version)
handful of parsley
two cloves of garlic chopped
handful of cooked chestnuts (optional)
4 ounces of prosciutto chopped into pieces
One tablespoon each of ground sage and Rosemary
Mix/ add your stock a little at a time. About 1-1/2 cups. Your mixture should be soft. Add teaspoon of salt and pepper and mix. Salt and pepper your bird top and bottom. About a teaspoon of each.
Fill the inside of your Turkey cavity with the mixture. Tie your bird shut to avoid it spilling out while cooking. Cover your bird with 6 slices of prosciutto. Place in a large baking Pan. Do not place your Turkey flat on your pan. It should be elevated. This will ensure even cooking. Add one cup of Turkey stock to the bottom of your pan. Loosely cover your bird and place in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. I like to pinch back the wings with metal skewers to avoid burning those wings. Toothpicks are not a good idea as they break down and there is nothing worse than finding a piece of wood in your food. Turn down your heat to 375 and bake for approximately 4 hours plus 1/2 hour. Baste your turkey with your remaining stock plus a 1/4 cup white wine mixed into the stock on the hour. (3/4 cup stock, 1/4 cup white wine). You can pour it right over the bird. This addition creates a steam in your oven to help the bird remain moist. If you don't think you have enough stock remaining, simply add more water to your stock and simmer again. Plenty of flavor remaining that neck bone. Or you can add chicken stock while cooking. Discard your crisped prosciutto before carving. Or you can place it in food processor to chop and serve it over your salad. Let your bird rest at least One hour before serving.
Version number 2 / baking dish method
One medium size baking dish buttered and set aside
In a small skillet heat 3 ounces of diced pancetta and cook.
Into a bowl place 3 cups of focaccia bread crumbs
handful of chopped parsley, sausage, pinch of pepper. (No salt here as the pancetta is already salty).
Fresh rosemary chopped/ about 3 tablespoons
Add you stock, a little at a time. Until all is combined and softened. spread evenly in your baking dish. Your mixture should be about 2 inches tall in your baking dish. Heat one tablespoon of butter in your pan and add 2/3 cup fine bread crumbs. Mix and toast. Spread evenly on the top of your mixture. This will form a nice crust on top. Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Cut into squares and serve.
To all of my wonderful friends and family, I give thanks for each and every one of you, each and every day.~ Buon Appetito~
(If you prefer, you can try this with Capon too. Just remember to make appropriate cooking time adjustments).