Scallopine of Turkey Marsala with Porcini

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I continue to enjoy the wonderful dried porcini that my friend Kathleen dropped off on my doorstep last month.  Tonight, I decided to add them my Turkey Marsala.

Turkey breast is a beautiful alternative to veal, for making alla marsala.  Turkey has a deep, gamey flavor that goes so well with earthy flavors like porcini or truffles.  At about one-fifth the price of veal (at my butcher, anyway), it’s a wonderfully economical alternative as well.

The entire key to making tender scallopine is properly butchering and pounding the meat to near paper thinness.  This takes a little practice, but with some illustration, you’ll be able to tackle it as well.

I learned similar techniques of making scallopine from both Mario and my neighbor, Beppi.  They both taught me the same lesson–the scallopine begin in a large cold skillet, slicked with oil and butter.  The entire dish is arranged in the cold skillet, THEN the skillet is placed on the heat.  Do not heat the skillet, then slip the cutlets into hot fat–this will almost certainly lead to tough scallopine.

You can see by the color of my finished scallopine, that the meat retains a pale, blonde color–with little or no browning–the key is juiciness and tenderness.

Once the meat is butchered and the ingredients are assembled, the dish is very quick to prepare.  For this reason, it’s a good dish to serve guests.  Simply assemble ahead of time, begin cooking any accompaniments first, then place the skillet on the heat about 10 minutes prior to serving.

Tonight, as accompaniments, we had roasted potatoes with rosemary and broccoli di rapa with chili flakes, and garlic.

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Scallopine of Turkey with Marsala and Porcini

Serves 4

1 Whole turkey breast, removed from the bone (about 3 – 4 lbs meat)

3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbls butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 oz dried porcini, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes, then removed and lightly chopped

3/4 c dry marsala

1 c chicken or turkey broth

1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Remove skin from both lobes of the turkey breast by pulling off the skin while lightly running the knife between the skin and meat, being careful not to take skin with you.

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With a sharp knife, slicing crosswise at a diagonal, make 1/2″ slices of meat.

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Save any chunks or odd cubes of meat for another use.

Take each slice and place between sheets of plastic wrap (you may do them two or three at a time, making sure there’s room around each slice within the plastic wrap, so the meat can expand as you pound it thinner).

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Pound with a meat pounder until slices are about 1/4″ thick, and as uniform as possible.  This requires a firm but delicate touch with the pounder–too much force will result in shredded see-through cutlets, while too little force will result in cutlets remaining too thick to cook quickly, properly.  Your goal is to lightly break down the fibers of the meat and tenderize it ahead of cooking.

Set all slices aside on a sheet of foil, then prepare a tray of flour for dredging.

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Drizzle oil uniformly over the skillet, then dredge each cutlet in flour, while shaking off any excess flour from each piece before placing in skillet.

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Lay the cutlets in the skillet–they may be crowded and slightly overlapping, since they will shrink a bit during cooking. Season well with salt and black pepper.  Dot all uniformly with butter.  May be prepared to this point an hour ahead of cooking.

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This is an exception to the prohibition on overcrowding the skillet while pan-frying, since the goal here is tenderness–not browning.

When almost ready to serve, turn heat on high under skillet, and when contents begin to sizzle, reduce heat to medium.  When cutlets begin turning white around the edges but still pink in the middle, turn them and turn up heat (about 4 minutes into cooking, depending on the strength of your flame).  Add marsala and porcini and reduce for a minute.  Add broth and continue cooking for another minute or two, just until sauce forms.

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Sprinkle with fresh parsley, taste for salt, and serve immediately.

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