Turkey Talk

November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I am in the kitchen many days before making preparations so the celebration dinner runs as smoothly as possible. Not everyone is a fan of dark meat so on our table, this year, the traditional turkey has given way to a butterflied and stuffed turkey breast, prepared the way Italians like to have it in Perugia, the capital of the region of Umbria. This recipe is no hassle, no bones, no mess. A cook can enjoy the day too! And the recipe is from my latest book: Ciao Italia Family Classics.

Rolled and Roasted Turkey Breast with Chestnut Stuffing

Serves 8

2/3 pound chestnuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/4 pound prosciutto, diced
1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
One 4-pound turkey breast, butter flied
Fine sea salt to taste
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
Kitchen string

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.

With a small knife, make an X in the top of each chestnut and place them on a baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes, or until the skins split. Remove and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 400ºF.

Crack the chestnuts open with a nutcracker and remove the nutmeats. Coarsely chop the nutmeats and place in a large bowl.

In a skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and brown them. Stir in the chestnuts. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Add 1 more tablespoon of the oil to the skillet, and sauté the prosciutto until crispy. Add to the bread crumb mixture along with the rosemary, parsley, garlic, cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the oil and mix well. (The stuffing can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

To butterfly the turkey breast, use a sharp knife to cut horizontally through the breast but not all the way so that the meat opens to lie flat like a book. Or ask your butcher to do this for you.

Lay the turkey breast out flat on a cutting board. Place a large piece of wax paper over the turkey and pound it with a meat pounder to flatten it to a 1/2 inch even thickness. Rub the turkey with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing mixture evenly over the turkey breast to within 1 inch of the edges. Do not worry if all of the stuffing does not fit; save any excess for topping the breast after it is rolled.

Starting at one long side, roll the turkey up like a jelly roll and tie it with string in four or five places.

Lower the oven temperature to 350F.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown the turkey roll on all sides. Place the roll on a meat rack in a roasting pan, and add the pan juices from the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and pat any remaining stuffing over the top.

Add 1/2 cup of wine to the pan. Roast about 2 hours or until the internal temperature registers between 175-180 F on a meat thermometer. Baste the meat occasionally with the pan juices, adding the remaining 1 cup wine to the pan halfway through the cooking time.

Let the meat rest for 15 minutes before slicing it. Then cut the roll into 1-inch thick slices. Arrange them on a platter, and pour any pan juices over the meat. Serve hot or warm.

Tip: Italian chestnuts appear in stores just in time for Thanksgiving; look for plump, shiny ones that feel heavy in your hand. Avoid buying those that are split or appear wrinkled.

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