Spezzatino di Tachino

This turkey stew is a direct adaptation of my neighbor Beppi’s preparation for tripe.  I’m having guests for dinner tomorrow evening and I want to make a stew that can be made ahead, then reheated in the oven, leaving my stovetop clear for me to do risotto and a vegetable at the last minute (I know my electric cooktop’s limitations). 

My neighbor Beppi makes a stew of tripe (cow’s stomach) that I absolutely adore.  I must admit, it’s the flavor of the sauce (not necessarily the tripe) that I find so appealing.  Knowing that my guests might not necessarily appreciate innerds, I set out to duplicate this delicate stew using another gamey meat (but not as gamey as tripe)–turkey thighs. 

I had seen nice-looking turkey parts (“all-natural”, antibiotic-free) at my local Publix market and they inspired me to make Beppi’s tripe recipe.  Turkey thighs have a wonderfully meaty and rich texture and a slightly gamier flavor than chicken thighs (although chicken thighs would do fine in this recipe) and can be simmered and reheated, while remaining tender. 

The dish begins with a pestata (paste) of aromatics–celery, carrots, onion, shallot.  In addition, Beppi adds some prosciutto to his pestata–brilliant–flavorful but delicate.  The finely diced prosciutto melts into the sauce and gives it a not-quite-smoked, but deeply porky flavor.  The pestata gets sauteed in butter, along with a sprig of rosemary for perfume. 

After the pestata has released most of its liquid and begun to caramelize (and your house is instantly filled with wonderful aromas), diced chunks of turkey thighs and some flour are added and continued to saute until the turkey has lost  all its pink color and the pestata has continued to caramelize and concentrate. 

At this point, some tomato paste is added and sauteed, then wine is added and reduced, then a rich and flavorful broth is added to cover the turkey and amalgamate the sauce.  Since my thighs were on the bone, I was able to remove them from the bone, then boil the bones with some celery and onion, to form the broth. 

As accompaniments, I made plain risotto, plus sauteed zucchini and carrots.  The rice was the perfect neutral sponge to soak up the deep, rich sauce from the turkey. 

Spezzatino di Tachino

serves 4 – 6

4 turkey thighs, on the bone

1/4 onion, peeled and diced into 1″ chunks

2 ribs celery, some leaves included, if possible

2 carrots, peeled and diced into 1″ chunks

2 shallots, peeled and quartered

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 oz. prosciutto, sliced thinly, then cut crosswise into 1/2″ ribbons

6 tbls butter

2 tbls tomato paste

3 tbls flour

1 c white wine

2 c chicken or turkey broth

salt and pepper to taste

To make the broth, remove the skin from the turkey thighs, then the meat from the bones and dice meat into 1 1/2″ cubes (discard skin).

Place bones, plus a rib of celery and half an onion in a small stockpot. 

Cover with water and let simmer for an hour.  Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Combine carrots and celery in the food processor.

Process to a coarse paste. 

Remove and set aside.  Repeat procedure in the food processor with onions, shallots and prosciutto. 

In a large skillet or dutch oven, place butter, aromatics/prosciutto and rosemaryBring to a sizzle on high heat, stirring often.  Saute for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until vegetables have released most of their water and have begun to caramelize.

Add turkey meat, season liberally with salt and pepper, then and flour and continue to saute for another 8 – 10 minutes, until turkey meat has lost most of its pink color.

Add tomato paste and spread and press into the bottom of the skillet in the sizzling butter for about a minute. 

Add wine and let reduce for a minute or so. 

Add broth and turn heat to low.  Cover partially and simmer for 45 minutes, then set aside until ready to reheat and serve (may be done to this point, then refrigerated a day or two before serving).   To serve, place in preheated 300-degree oven, covered with foil for about a half-hour.

 P.S.  There was enough risotto left over to make some beautiful rice croquettes (see Beppi’s Crochette di Riso). 

The beautiful green color came from folding a quarter cup of my leftover tuscan kale pesto into the risotto before forming the croquettes.

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