Turkey Goodness, Pino-style
Pino’s way to season a Thankgiving – or Christmas – turkey is a far cry from those U.S. “butterball” birds, complete with inserted thermometer to tell you how long to cook it!
When we farmed, Pino slaughtered one of our turkeys, then plunged it into boiling water to loosen the feathers: the plucking and gutting was up to me. I’d do the stuffing, Pino did the basting…and then that turkey was roasted at Ristorante da Giovannino down the road: those birds were too big for our wood-burning stove oven!
Times change: now we order two de-boned turkey thighs from the local butcher, asking him to save us the skin and – on Peppa’s suggestion – to take out “tutti i filetti anche” (“all those little strings, too” – the nerves). The butcher gives us a generous clump of lard, too. Real lard: pig fat from well-fed local pigs.
First step, therefore, to preparing a “tacchino di Pino” is the de-boning of firm turkey thighs (get organic if you can) by a skilled butcher, who’ll also give you top-quality pig lard.
Next step: wash 3 or 4 branches each of fresh garden sage and rosemary. Peel 4 or 5 garlic cloves. Dice them finely together (Pino has his favorite gadget for that).
Mix into the lard (about 2 c), then squeeze in the juice of a lemon or two. If lard is not salted, add salt. How much? “Q.b.” (“quanto basta” or “as much as you need”): Pino puts in a pugno (“fistful” – or about 2 T). Add black pepper, q.b.
Mix all together with a fork, moistening with olive oil, q. b.. Make small slits on turkey thighs. Rub turkey thighs all over with mixture, inserting some into slits. On one thigh, mound stuffing.
Here is my stuffing: about 2 c cubed dry bread (If you can’t use Umbrian bread, do the best you can!), about 1 c grated bread crumbs (of good bread!), 2 c or more of finely-diced celery, 1 diced white onion, 2 c or more of finely-chopped sage, 3 or 4 sausages, taken out of skins (Umbrian are best!), a couple strips of pancetta, diced.
This year, I worked in a couple ciauscolo (a fresh salami from the Marches) slices, too. Mix in 2 eggs.
Place other seasoned thigh over the stuffing.
Tie all together with string. Place in roasting pan and pour white wine over the turkey, mixed with a bit of water.
Put in oven at about 425 F til bird is browned, then lower to about 400 F.
Roast til done…or about 2 hours. Slice and serve.