While Italians don’t normally celebrate Thanksgiving for obvious reasons, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a little authentic Italian flair to your next Turkey Day festivities. There are plenty of ways to dress up the standard turkey dinner in more creative ways. Here’s just one way you can do that with our succulent Thanksgiving turkey and Italian stuffing recipe.
Ingredients for Turkey with Italian Stuffing Recipe
For the Turkey:
1 turkey trimmed (18 lbs.)
6 strips bacon
3 clove garlic, crushed
2 lemons, juiced and zested
2 large onions
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2 fresh bay leaves
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp thyme, chopped
1 tbsp sage, chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the stuffing:
Sweet Italian sausage (2 lbs.)
6 oz pancetta, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large onions, diced
7 cups French bread, staled and roughly chopped into small cubes
4 cups chicken or turkey stock
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded, plus more for topping
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sage, chopped
1 tbsp thyme, chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Preparation for Turkey Recipe with Italian Stuffing
For the Turkey:
Mix both sticks of butter (softened) with the zest and juice of your lemons, the crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together until well combined. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Generously salt and pepper both the inside and outside of the turkey. Place one juiced/zested lemon, two bay leaves, and two onions (halved) inside the cavity. Carefully separate the skin from the turkey’s breasts by gently moving your hand underneath it. Ball up around 3/4 of your compound butter and place it under the turkey skin, pulling back the skin and massaging it down the breasts. Rub remaining butter across the outside of the turkey.
Drizzle the bird with the remaining olive oil and place on a roasting tray before transferring into the hot oven. Let the turkey roast at this temperature for 10 minutes, after which lower the heat to 350 degrees. Working quickly, remove the turkey from the oven, baste with juices, and line the top with bacon strips before returning to the oven. The turkey will need to cook for around 3 to 3 and a half hours or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the thigh. When your turkey comes out of the oven, remove it to a tray and tent with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for as long as you cooked it for maximum flavor and juiciness.
For the Stuffing:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously butter a large (9 by 13 inch or so) baking dish.
In a large skillet on medium heat, brown sausage until fully cooked. Remove to a paper towel and reserve half a tablespoon of rendered fat. In the same pan, add the olive oil and brown pancetta. When nearly cooked, add in celery and onion (if desired, you can use the onions from cooking the turkey for extra flavor) and cook until celery has softened. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, removing from the heat.
Transfer sausage and pancetta mixture into a large mixing bowl and combine. Add bread and herbs, mixing again until incorporated. Pour over stock, cheese, butter, and reserved fat and mix well until the bread has absorbed all of the liquid. For more flavor, add in a tablespoon or so of resting juices from the turkey or the roasting pan.
Spoon the stuffing into the baking dish and smooth out top. Bake for 45 minutes covered with aluminum foil. After that, remove foil and shred on additional Parmesan cheese before returning to the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove once cheese has become crispy and browned.
Though it might not be traditional, Italians can still celebrate Thanksgiving for its rich and decadent foods. If you’d like to infuse a bit of Italian flair into your next feast, try this recipe for a turkey and Italian stuffing. For real authenticity, though, remember to pair it with a flavorful Italian wine when you finally dig in.