Bada Bing.

Last Thanksgiving I posted the Italian-American menu for the 4-course Thanksgiving dinner I served at my house in San Francisco. I gave you great wine suggestions for your meal.

This year I’m sharing my recipes for the roasted turkey, chestnut and sausage stuffing and gravy that I’ll make with my family in northern Jersey. I love this meal but I only make it once a year so I’m always happy when Thanksgiving rolls around.

The turkey is golden brown and scented with rosemary, sage, lemon and garlic. The chestnut and sausage stuffing has a crispy crust and adds big flavor to your Thanksgiving table. The gravy is scented by the herbs and garlic and ties everything together.

I don’t know what vegetables we’ll make or what the antipasti or dolce (dessert) courses will be. We’ll decide when the family gathers next week. We’re very democratic about these things.

I do know one thing. My sister Rose will assemble her famous pedestal fruit bowl to accompany an assortment of roasted nuts to help end our Thanksgiving meal. I know Rose’s will be better than the one I made last year. And I know that it will be the centerpiece for our table, has been since we were kids.

I can’t wait to see everyone. A bunch of us will hit the markets to get the best ingredients. Six of us spanning 3 generations will be in the kitchen cooking together. Best of all 20 will be at the table for a day of feasting.

Have a great Thanksgiving! Buon appetito!

Roasted Turkey, Chestnut/Sausage Stuffing and Gravy

Ingredients

  • 1 12-14 pound fresh turkey
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery rib
  • 1 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon dried porcini
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 4 leaves fresh sage
  • 4 sprigs fresh Italian flat parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons EVOO
  • 3 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine, sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio perhaps
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity and wash the turkey inside and out. Pat dry.
  3. Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in the turkey cavity.
  4. Tuck the wings under the turkey so they do not burn while the turkey roasts.
  5. Tie the legs together with kitchen string to help retain the shape of the turkey while roasting.
  6. Soak the dried porcini in a cup of hot water.
  7. When rehydrated roughly chop the porcini.
  8. Smash the garlic, cut the carrots, celery, onion and lemon in 1 inch slices and put them in a bowl along with the porcini.
  9. Add 1 tablespoon of EVOO, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and coat the vegetables and lemon well.
  10. Place a handful of the vegetables, half the lemon slices, 2 garlic cloves, the sage and 2 sprigs of parsley in the cavity of the turkey.
  11. In a large roasting pan (I use an enamel turkey roasting pan with a cover) put in 2 cloves of garlic, the rosemary, 2 sprigs of parsley, carrots, celery, onion and the remaining lemon slices on the bottom of the pan to form a bed for the turkey. (If you are using a roasting rack put the rack on top of the bed of herbs and vegetables.)
  12. If you use them, add the neck and giblets to the roasting pan.
  13. Rub the outside of the turkey all over with the EVOO.
  14. Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground pepper all over the outside of the turkey.
  15. Put the turkey in the roasting pan.
  16. Add 3 cups of water or broth, 1 cup dry white wine and the porcini soaking water to the bottom of the roasting pan. (Be careful pouring in the porcini soaking water so that any sediment on the bottom of the bowl stays in the bowl. Add more or less liquid depending on the size of your roasting pan. You just want the liquid to cover the vegetable/herb base. If using a rack the liquid should just come up to the bottom of the rack.)
  17. Cover the roasting pan. (If your roasting pan does not have a cover, tightly form a tent cover over the roasting pan with aluminum foil. Make sure the foil doesn’t touch the turkey so that it won’t stick to the skin.)
  18. Roast the turkey for about 2 hours basting the turkey once or twice.
  19. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.
  20. Remove the cover or foil, baste the turkey and roast for 30 minutes to brown. (If there is not much liquid in the bottom of the pan add more water or broth to the bottom of the pan.)
  21. Insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. It should read 165-170 degrees. If it has not reached that internal temperature, roast for another 15 to 30 minutes. The turkey should be a golden brown.
  22. Set the turkey aside on a large platter or carving board and tent it with foil to rest before carving.
  23. Remove the turkey neck and giblets and discard. Mash the vegetables and herbs in the roasting pan.
  24. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour. Whisk briskly until the flour is completely mixed with the butter and turns a light tan color.
  25. Strain the pan gravy into the saucepan and over medium-high heat whisk well to incorporate the pan gravy into the roux without forming lumps.
  26. Whisk any juices from the platter or carving board where the turkey was resting into the gravy.
  27. Simmer over medium-low whisking constantly for a minute or two until the gravy thickens.
  28. Carve the turkey and serve with the stuffing and gravy immediately.
  29. Serves 6-8.

Chestnut-Sausage Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 8 cups rustic Italian bread cut in small cubes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 2 leaves chopped fresh sage
  • 1 pound Italian pork sausage without fennel
  • 1 pound chestnuts
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut off the crust from the bread. Cut into one inch slices. Cut the slices into half inch cubes.
  3. Spread the bread cubes in a shallow baking pan.
  4. Add the EVOO and coat the bread cubes well.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the cubes are lightly toasted.
  6. Put the toasted bread cubes into a large bowl and set aside.
  7. Cut an X into the flat side of the chestnuts.
  8. Put them in a pot with boiling water and boil for 15 minutes.
  9. (Peel and taste one to make sure they a soft and cooked all the way through.)
  10. Drain the chestnuts and when cool enough to handle, peel the outer shell and the paper coating.
  11. Roughly chop the chestnuts and add them to the bowl.
  12. Chop the onion and celery into a fine dice.
  13. Put the butter into a sauté pan and over a medium-low heat melt the butter.
  14. Add the onion and celery, a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper and sauté in the butter until the onion is translucent.
  15. Add the chopped sage and parsley and mix well with the celery and onion.
  16. Put the onion-celery mixture into the bowl with the bread cubes.
  17. Take the sausage out of the casing.
  18. Add a tablespoon of EVOO to the sauté pan and over medium-high heat bring the EVOO to a slight ripple.
  19. Add the sausage and break up any big pieces.
  20. Saute the sausage until it takes on a golden crust.
  21. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and add the sausage to the bowl. (You do not want any of the fat from the saute pan.)
  22. Stir all of the ingredients in the bowl to mix them well.
  23. Add the water or broth to the bowl and mix well to moisten the bread cubes.
  24. Lightly oil a baking dish and add the bread cubes spreading them out evenly.
  25. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the stuffing is heated well throughout and the top has a golden crust.
  26. Serve immediately.
  27. Serves 6-8.