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An Italian Thanksgiving Menu

Our Editor-in-Chief shares a recipe for turkey ripieno as well as his complete menu from the Thanksgiving dinner he prepared 20 years ago for friends and family in Tuscany.

9:01 PM EST on November 21, 2023

A stuffed turkey breast.

Turkey Breast Ripieno.

I've shared the lessons of a year living in Italy here. What I'm sharing now is the unique menu I created in order to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving with my new Italian friends and neighbors.

The primary challenge involved acquiring a turkey, as tacchino is not a staple of the Tuscan menu. But my local butcher found me a big enough bird to feed 12 guests. This created another problem as that 12-person-feeding turkey was not going to fit in my tiny, Italian oven. So, my ever-resourceful butcher simply removed the breast bones from the turkey and stuffed the cavity with ground veal and aromatics.

This adaptation to a boneless turkey forever changed my Thanksgiving menu as a boneless breast, stuffed and rolled, is a main attraction that cooks uniformly, carves easily, and doesn't take up the bulk of the oven space for hours upon hours.

The barn where Andrew Cotto lived in Tuscany.
The barn where Andrew Cotto lived in Tuscany.

Here is my turkey ripieno or stuffed turkey breast recipe along with links to all of the sides I made that holiday in Italy where I gave the American holiday a Tuscan twist.

Quick, Creamy Polenta

Brussels Sprouts in Balsamic Glaze

Focaccia Stuffing with Sausage and Fennel

Chicken Liver Crostini with Pickled Shallots

NOTE: I will be on Good Day New York (Fox 5) at 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, November 22nd to talk about my Italian Thanksgiving and prepare the full spread.

Turkey Ripieno (Stuffed Turkey)

Turkey Ripieno (Stuffed Turkey)

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Andrew Cotto
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 6-7 lb 1 whole boneless turkey breast

  • 2 lbs 2 ground veal or pork

  • 3 cloves 3 minced garlic

  • 2 tbsp 2 chopped sage leaves

  • 2 tbsp 2 chopped rosemary leaves

  • Kosher salt

  • Black pepper

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 honey

  • 1 cup 1 chicken stock

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Combine garlic, herbs, and ground meat.
  • Place breast, skin-side down on a cutting board; butterfly into an even thickness (pound gently, if necessary, to achieve uniformity).
  • Season both sides with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Skin side down, spread the meat mixture evenly over the turkey with 1-inch borders around each end.
  • Roll the breast into a cylinder.
  • Secure the cylinder with kitchen string in roughly 2-inch intervals.
  • Place on a rack in a roasting pan and add the stock to the bottom. Cover with foil.
  • Roast the breast for 75 minutes. Remove foil.
  • Combine olive oil with the honey and cover the breast on all sides using a pastry brush.
  • Return to oven uncovered and roast until the skin is browned but not burned (15 - 20 minutes) until an internal temperature of 140 degrees is met or until, when pierced to the center, the juices run clear.
  • Remove, cover loosely with foil and let breast rest for 20 minutes before carving into slices of 1-1/2 inch.
  • Allow pan juices to reduce at a simmer and spoon over sliced meat or serve on the side.

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