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An Italian American Thanksgiving with the Isernio Family

Frank remembers when growing up, Thanksgiving was a double treat. His family’s meal was the best combination of Classic Italian recipes and American dishes. 

We usually started with an Antipasto platter of cured meats, including Salami & Coppocola, cheeses such as Provolone or Pecorino, sweet and hot peppers, various olives etc. Then it was on to the pasta which would usually consist of Raviolis or Mostaccioli topped with a slow simmered tomato sauce. You’d think that would be enough, but then the giant turkey would come out of the oven roasted to a beautiful golden brown color. Italian American Thanksgiving Turkey with Isernio's Sausage

The sausage stuffing was so fragrant, it’s impossible to forget. The turkey was served with gravy made from the roasting pan with sweet potatoes or yams as well as green vegetables simply prepared. After eating what amounted to two meals, we would then have to take a break and before long the feasting resumed with Pumpkin Pie, from pumpkins that were usually grown in the backyard garden. We would finish the meal with some biscotti and coffee.

I’d like you to enjoy the savory stuffing that my family uses to celebrate Thanksgiving. My wife Margherita has perfected this recipe and added the brining technique which you must try if you have never brined before. Brining with herbs adds a lot of flavor to the turkey as well as juiciness; please try and you’ll do it this way every time.

Buon Appetito
Frank

TURKEY BRINING Ingredients:

  • 1 Brining bag for 16 – 18 lb. turkey (place bag in small roasting pan) 
  • 1/2 Cup Rosemary & Sage – finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 heads of Garlic, smashed skins and all
  • 1 Tbsp. Whole Peppercorns
  • 2 Cups Kosher Salt
  • 3 Gallons Water (enough to cover turkey in brining bag)
  • Ice to place in Brining bag

TURKEY ROASTING Ingredients:

  • 1 – 16 – 18 lb. all Natural Turkey, thawed
  • Thyme & Rosemary, 4-5 sprigs each
  • 4 – 5 cloves Garlic, chopped in half
  • 1 Onion, 1 Carrot & Celery roughly chopped
  • 2 Cups hot Low Sodium Chicken broth (heat in microwave)

Stock Ingredients:

  • Turkey Neck (from inside Turkey)
  • 1/2 Carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 Onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 Stock of Celery, roughly chopped
  • 4 – 5 cloves Garlic, chopped in half
  • *NOTE – The above is optional, can use canned 
  • Chicken broth to add to gravy, if needed.

Place the brining bag in a shallow pan that will fit on the bottom of your refrigerator. Make sure you remove giblets from Turkey (Giblets may NOT be in the main cavity, look in the other end). Add all brining ingredients, except the water, to a large sauce pan. Add enough hot water to dissolve the salt to liquid form. Place turkey in brining bag and pour brine over turkey. Add enough cold water to cover the turkey. Add a couple handfuls of ice cubes, to cool it off, seal up the bag, and place on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator overnight, at least 20 hours.

When ready to roast, preheat oven to 400° on Convection Bake. Spray the Roasting Pan and Rack with Olive Oil Spray. Pour out brine; rinse Turkey well & pat dry. Place turkey breast side up on roasting rack. Place a little of the coarsely chopped Onion, Carrot, Celery, Garlic and Herbs in the Turkey cavity with lots of black Pepper.

Tie turkey legs together with kitchen string. Place the rest of the vegetables & herbs on the bottom of roasting pan. Rub olive oil on turkey breast, add pepper and rotate Turkey BREAST SIDE DOWN on the rack. Add olive oil and pepper to the back, but, do not salt. Add 2 cups hot Chicken Broth to the bottom of the pan. Cover everything with a lid or foil, and place in oven, reduce heat to 350°. After 1 hour, rotate the pan and check underneath foil to make sure there’s still liquid in the pan. Place Digital Thermometer in thigh up towards wing (if it’s too close to breast, it will go off in about an hour) and set to 165°. It should take at least another 1 3/4 – 2 hours to reach that temperature.

Place Turkey Neck and coarsely chopped Onion, Celery, Carrot & Garlic pieces in a small sauce pan with about 2 Cups water do not add salt. Simmer on Low heat for about 1 1/2 hours while Turkey is roasting.

After 2 1/2 hours, remove foil and turn the turkey over for 30 min. just so breast can get cooked. When it’s done, be sure to let the Turkey “REST” for at least a 1 hour, covered with foil. 2 hours is best.

Gravy: Pour pan drippings in gravy separator cup. Pour a little of the fat, back into roasting pan. Save some fat drippings for the top of the Stuffing or to make more gravy, if you run out. Don’t use Flour. Add Stock, scraping brown bits on bottom; bring heat up to a boil. Add 2-3 Tbsp. Potato starch with cold chick broth, whisk well, and add to boiling broth to thicken. Taste for Salt, since turkey was brined, the pan drippings are salty add Pepper to taste.

Stuffing Ingredients:

  • About 6-7 cups homemade or natural bread cubes (an entire loaf of Rosemary bread cut-up*)
  • 4 – links or 1 lb. roll of Isernio’s Italian Pork or Chicken Sausage
  • 1/2 stick unsalted Butter
  • 1 med. Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • About 3 stalks of Celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Sage, finely chopped 

*To make bread cubes, cut Rose loaf into 1/2″ pieces for 2 pans. Bake @ 300° top rack 7 min. 2nd rack 7 min, rotating pans.

Take casings off sausage or cut roll open and place in large skillet, breaking up with wooden spoon, cook meat until pink disappears. Place cooked meat aside. Melt Butter in same skillet; add Onion, Celery, Garlic and Salt, Sauté until soft.  Add Rosemary and Sage and cook for a few more minutes. Add meat to Butter/Onion mixture. Place bread cubes in large bowl, add Sausage/Onion mixture and mix well. Heat the Chicken broth in microwave and add to bread crumb mixture (can make ahead at this point). Add Eggs at very end. Stuffing should be very MOIST, add more Chicken broth, if needed!

Place stuffing in sprayed enamel dish, top with turkey drippings, cover and place in oven after Turkey is done for 1 hr.

To view this recipe on our website, please visit our Turkey Stuffing Recipe page.

Or watch Frank make the Sausage Turkey Stuffing recipe.



 

 

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