Friday, June 21, 2013

Tuscan Turkey Thighs

There is something about Tuscan cooking that seems to appeal to many a chef or home cook.  When I see a recipe that includes the word "Tuscan," I give it a serious look and consideration.  That is what happened when I came across a recipe in the New York Times entitled "Tuscan Turkey Thighs."

But, what makes those turkey thighs ... "Tuscan."  Is it a particular ingredient?  Is it the method of preparation?  

As it turns out, it is Tuscan because it comes from a Tuscan chef.  The author who provided the recipe to the New York Times, Judith Liebman, visited the Villa Delia culinary school in Ripoli di Lari, a town in Tuscany.  The resident chef and instructor, Marietta Menghi, taught Liebman and the other students a recipe for turkey thighs.  Liebman took notes and re-constructed the recipe for those of us who do not have the good fortune to be Chef Menghi's pupils. 

Judith Liebman also provides some hints.  For example, she notes that she uses a food processor to chop the sage and garlic.  She also adds other vegetables, such as carrots and fennel.  If those vegetables are done before the turkey, Liebman recommends removing the vegetables and keeping them warm while the turkey continues to cook.  

I did not have any problems with cooking times.  My only difficulty was getting crispy skin.  The picture that accompanied the recipe in the New York Times showed a nice turkey thigh with brown, crispy skin.  I cooked the thigh for the recommended times, but the skin just did not crisp up.  When I make this recipe again, I think I will have to make some modifications to the method to get that crispy skin.  Perhaps searing the thigh, skin down in a pan before placing it in an oven (with a modification to the cooking time) or finishing the thigh skin up under the broiler.   That, of course, will be another post....

An adaptation of a recipe by Marietta Menghi, as recorded by 
Judith Liebman and as printed in the New York Times

1 turkey thigh, about 1½ pounds total
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 bunch of sage, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped into large pieces
2-4 carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
Sprinkle of white wine vinegar
Sprinkle of olive oil
Broth, if needed while cooking

1.  Marinate the turkey thigh.  Cut deep slits into turkey thigh and rub sage and garlic mixture into cuts and onto surface. Marinate in refrigerator for 5 or 6 hours. 

2.  Roast the turkey thigh.  Remove thigh from refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put thigh skin side down in roasting pan. Put pan, uncovered, into oven for about 30 minutes. 

3.  Add the vegetables.  Then turn thighs over, add potatoes and vegetables, sprinkle all with salt, pepper, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and broth and continue roasting until thighs are done and potatoes are tender, adding broth if needed, about 30 more minutes. Stir the potatoes once or twice during roasting. 

4.  Let the thigh rest.  Remove from oven, let the thigh, potatoes and vegetables sit covered and untouched for about 20 minutes before serving.

As with most "Tuscan" recipes, you should consider a Tuscan wine.  Chianti is perhaps the best known, but look for some other lesser known wines, such as a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or a Rosso di Montalcino.


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