I must admit that I have never cooked a turkey for thanksgiving as I never lived in countries which do celebrate it. This year I wanted to do something for my followers who in fact celebrate this special day, so here I am with a simple yet brilliant Italian style turkey "al forno". I was so excited to buy a perfect whole medium size turkey, with a gamey flavor, but unfortunately all I found was a turkey cut into pieces. In Italy, usually use turkey for New Year, so markets start to bring the whole turkeys later, in the end of December.
The recipe I'd love to share with you today is the one of Jonathan's grandma. She has a perfect and simple to prepare recipe for lamb, goose, chicken and rabbit "al forno"; it works with basically all different types of meat and they always came out so delicious. Her recipe is all about mixing aromatic herbs, high quality animal fat and seasoning, that's it! It's amazing how some few ingredients can change all the flavor and texture of peace of meat. I also added some of my favorite ingredients, some reminder of my home Tehran; I used lime, scallion and peppercorn into the mixture. Then for the serving/garnish I added some caramelized butternut squash, dates and some dried red fruits to make it colorful and wintry. Hope you enjoy your day with your family & friends. Happy Thanksgiving.
Serves 4 People
- 2500 gram turkey
- 150 gram butter
- 50 gram strutto (Lard)
- 3-4 stick of rosemary
- 4-5 teaspoon dry or fresh finocchio
- zest and juice of 2 lime
- 3 cloves of garlic
- black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- a whole garlic
- 3 scallion
- 1/2 butternut squash
- some honey
- some dry red fruits
- some dates
- bay leaves
- Start by taking out the turkey, the butter and the strutto a couple of hours in advance to get them to room temperature.
- When they're ready, Preheat the oven to 200°C/392°F/gas 6.
- In a bowl mix the butter, sturtto, finely chopped rosemary, finocchio, zest and juice of 2 lime, crushed garlics, good pinch of salt, pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil prevents the butter from burning.
- In a roasting pan add some olive oil and place the whole turkey or turkey pieces, place the butter mixture between the meat and the skin, try not to break the skin but gently lift it and rub the butter under it. Then spread the butter all over the turkey, every small whole you find, place some butter into it and massage it very well with the remaining mixture.
- Turkey is a very lean meat and thus gets easily dry; butter and strutto under the skin and lime help the meat to become tender and soft.
- Add a whole garlic and scallion with the skin and some peppercorns into the turkey pan and place the turkey into the oven.
- Cook the turkey on 200°C/392°F/gas 6 or 180°C/350°F/gas 4, depending on your oven, until the skin is crispy and golden-brown. Take the roasting pan out of the oven every 30 minutes and give the turkey a good splash of cooking juices from the bottom of the pan; this helps it to not dry out. Cook the turkey for 2 hours or more for a soft, tender one.
- After the turkey is cooked, take it out and place it on a board to rest. This step allows the meat to reabsorb some of the juices and it becomes tastier.
- Now cut the butternut squash into tiny round slices, place them in a tray using parchment paper, add a drizzle of olive olive oil, pinch of salt and spread some honey on top. Cook them in the oven until crispy and caramelized.
- While the butternut squash is in the oven, place the roasting pan on a high heat and bring the cooking juice to boil. Take a cup of it and add 4-5 table spoons of white flour and stir to a smooth and creamy consistency. Add it back to the roasting pan and stir until the stock gets to the desired thickness. Pass the gravy from the strainer and put it in the saucière.
- Place the turkey in the serving plate together with some bay leaves, mix of red dried fruits, caramelized butternut squash and some dates.