Even though turkey is a staple of Thanksgiving in America, it is not a popular dish in Italy, except in the region of Le Marche. One of essential elements to cooking in the Province of Ascoli Piceno is its green olive. It is found in many recipes including Tacchino all’Ascolana, a turkey roast that is not roasted, but is instead prepared in a skillet. We thought that you might enjoy this unique recipe that has an Italian flair and is very, very different from our traditional Thanksgiving turkey.
Le Marche as a region has many gastronomic delights aside from turkey which is unusual in the rest of the country. One of those delights is Maccheroncini di Campofilone – a rich, silky egg pasta that has been produced in the region for 600 years and Olive all’Ascolana, a stuffed olive that is breaded and fried.
These stuffed olives are a specialty originating in Ascoli Piceno in the early 19th century.
1 pound green Ascolane olives (drained and rinsed brine-cured)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
14 oz lean beef or veal, finely diced
5 oz lean pork, finely diced
2 oz chicken breast, finely diced
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
zest of 1/2 lemon
pinch black pepper
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2-1/2 cups bread crumbs
2 to 3 cups vegetable oil
Using a sharp paring knife, carefully cut the flesh away from the pit of each olive in a spiral shape. Set the olives aside while you prepare the filling.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the diced onion, carrot and celery and sauté until the onion is translucent and vegetables are softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the diced meats and salt. Continue to sauté until the meat is cooked, then puree the mixture in a food processor and transfer to a large bowl. Add the egg yolks, Parmigiano, lemon zest and pepper. Stir to combine. Take small pinches of the filling and wrap the olive spiral around the filling, reforming it to its original olive shape, pressing slightly so that the filling holds the olive together.
Roll each stuffed olive in the flour, dip in the beaten egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Heat the frying oil in a large heavy-bottomed, high-sided skillet until hot, but not smoking. Fry the breaded olives in batches. When olives are evenly golden brown, remove and drain briefly on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve hot with lemon wedges.
Maccheroncini di Campofilone (from the town of Campofilone)
Maccheroncini is made in ultra-thin strands in order to the preserve the egg pasta so it could be eaten year-round.
1 lb Maccheroncini di Campofilone pasta (you can substitute with capolini)
2 carrots finely chopped
2 celery stalks finely chopped
1 onion peeled and finely chopped
4 oz ground beef
4 oz ground chicken or chicken giblets
4 oz ground pork
2 beef marrow bones
20 oz peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
10 sage leaves
4 oz white wine
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt for pasta and to taste
black pepper to taste
½ cup Pecorino cheese, grated
In a deep skillet, brown the chopped onion in the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the chopped carrot and celery, salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add the beef marrow bones and all the other meats, plus the rosemary, sage and parsley. Brown the meat using a wooden spoon stirring frequently, about 6 minutes.
Add the wine and incorporate it into the mixture. After the alcohol has evaporated, about 3 minutes, add the tomatoes. Cook partly covered over a low flame for 3 hours. Stir the sauce occasionally and add a bit of water if it seems dry. When the sauce is ready, remove the beef marrow bones.
Boil the water for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta until al dente (usually 1 minute). When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the pan with the sauce. Mix and serve with grated Pecorino.
This is an ancient recipe for turkey breast stuffed and marinated in an aromatic herb wine reduction sauce.
2 to 2-1/2 lb turkey breast
1 bottle white wine
12 oz green Ascoli olives
4 chicken livers
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 sprigs of thyme
3 sprigs of marjoram
3 sprigs of rosemary
8-10 juniper berries
1 small bunch of parsley
12-15 basil leaves
10-12 sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Wash the aromatic herbs and place them in a saucepan with the white wine. Cook over a medium flame until the wine is reduced by half. Turn off the heat and filter the reduction, then allow it to cool. Meanwhile, prepare the turkey roll. Start by chopping the chicken livers and remove the pit from each olive. Chop the juniper berries until very fine. Mix the three ingredients.
Pound the turkey breast with a meat tenderizer. Spread the liver/olive mixture onto one side of the turkey breast. Form into a roll and tie with kitchen string as you would a roast. Place the turkey in a large baking dish and marinate with the wine reduction for at least three hours. Drain the reduction, but reserve it. In a large skillet, add the olive oil and heat over a medium-high flame. Season the turkey with salt and pepper and brown on all sides.
Sprinkle with the wine reduction over the turkey and cook over low flame for at 60-75 minutes. Turn the turkey every 6-7 minutes to ensure even cooking. Once done, remove the turkey, but do not discard the contents of the skillet. Allow the turkey to cool for 15-20 minutes and then cut into half inch thick slices. Return the skillet to a medium flame and heat until hot. Return each slice to the skillet and cook for 30-45 seconds on each side. Serve topped with the wine sauce from the skillet.