Monday, October 17, 2011
Recipe: Pancetta-Wrapped Roasted Turkey
Here's your Thanksgiving recipe # 2 for this year, and it will put any plain ole' oven roasted turkey you've made in the past to shame. It has a hint of sweetness, a noticeable measure of spice, tender poultry and lip-smacking, fatty pancetta. If your favorite thing about Thanksgiving turkey is the fragrant, flavorful skin, then you'll be head over heels for this version.
Think that making a whole turkey is too daunting a task, will require too much time or simply produce more food than you need? You don't need a special occasion (or 4 hours) to make this recipe if you make a few, easy revisions. Kyle and I have made this several times when we've hosted another couple for dinner, and we've found that two one-pound breasts, 1/3 of the quantity of each ingredient in the rub, and 1/4 pound of pancetta will suffice. In this case, I only brine the bird for about 3 hours. This means that you can place it in the fridge to brine (using only 1/3 of each of the brining ingredients) at lunch, and still have plenty of time to get it ready for a 7pm dinner. That's because you don't have to roast it for nearly as long - an hour and a half should do it.
The other thing I would change about this recipe - and this tip applies regardless of whether or not you use a whole 13 pound turkey or a couple of breasts - is that I wouldn't add the pancetta until the last half an hour of roasting. Why bother with it so early on, when you have to worry about getting the foil on top just right and risk burning the pancetta to a crisp? If your pancetta is thin sliced by the deli, it will easily cook up to a soft, barely crisp texture in half an hour.
And as you can see from the picture, you can't beat this recipe for presentation. It's super cool looking, so make sure you make a prominent space for it in the center of your dinner table, or parade it out from the kitchen under your guests happy noses before you slice and serve. This will give them a few minutes of gleeful anticipation for their upcoming main course.
Verdict: Another fabulous, easier than it looks recipe from Food & Wine.