Tacchino alla frutta calda
Preparation - Difficult, for the experienced cook.
 +Lo Chef.
Prep: 2 hrs; Cook: 6 hrs; Total Time: 8 hrs plus brining time
Yield: 8 - 10

We have had very good results preparing the turkey using chef Waldy Malouf's 'brine' method:

  • 1 cup sugar (optional)
  • 3/4 - 1 cup kosher salt (too much salt can make gravy too salty for some tastes)
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  1. One to two days before serving, place 1 gallon of water in a large stock pot with the sugar, salt, sage, thyme, and pepper. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and chill.
  2. Place the turkey in a deep casserole or roasting pan that is large enough to allow most (preferably all) of the turkey to be submerged in the brine. Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Turn the turkey in the brine every few hours if it is not totally submerged. (You can also place the turkey and brine in a large plastic bag placed in a bowl for support, if you do not have a large enough container.) Let steep for 24 to 36 hours.
  3. About 1 hour before turkey is to go in to the oven, remove the turkey from the refrigerator. Lift it out of the brine, and rinse off under fresh cold water. Dry the bird with paper towels.
  • 10 ounces (285 g) fresh chestnuts, peeled, or 7 ounces (200 g) dried
  • 1/4 rib celery, trimmed
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 pitted prunes, soaked overnight in dry port to cover (after pitting, 4 ounces; 115 g)
  • 2 ounces (60 g) chicken livers or turkey livers
  • 3 to 4 tsp unsalted butter
  • 5 ounces (140 g) smoked pancetta or fat bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/4 pound (115 g) ground veal
  • 1/4 pound (115 g) hot Italian sausage
  • 1 pear, not too ripe
  • 1 tart apple
  • 1/2 pound (225 g) shelled walnuts
  • About 8 sage leaves, preferably fresh (6 leaves, if dried)
  • About 3 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 to 2 whole cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1 turkey, 8 to 9 pounds (about 4 kg) - 'natural', 'free range' or kosher, if possible.
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup Cognac
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 g) smoked pancetta, to cover turkey during roasting
  • Cooked fruits

OO  Bowls for soaking and mixing, usual kitchen knives, small saucepan, roasting pan.


  1. IF using FRESH CHESTNUTS: To peel chestnuts, shell them with a knife, cut a cross in the ends if desired, and drop them into boiling water. Using rubber gloves, peel off the skins while hot; If using DRIED CHESTNUTS, soak them in water overnight. Simmer the chestnuts, fresh or dried, in boiling water with the celery, a dash of salt, and pepper to taste for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and remove inner skins while hot.
  2. DRAIN the prunes, reserving the port, and cut into small pieces. Place in a bowl.
  3. RINSE the livers and pat dry, then saute' in 1 TBSP of the butter until barely done and pink in the middle. Remove the livers from the pan with a slotted spoon, cut into small pieces, and add to the prunes.
  4. PREHEAT the oven to 350 degrees F 180 degrees C).
  5. IN the same pan in which the livers were prepared, sauté the chopped pancetta. Add the ground veal and saute', adding a little butter if necessary. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the livers and prunes.
  6. SKIN the sausage, crumble, and brown in the same pan. Add to the liver mixture.
  7. PEEL the pear and apple, cut into cubes, wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes. Add to the other ingredients. Leave the oven on.
  8. CRUMBLE the chestnuts and coarsely chop the walnuts. Chop the sage and add it and the nuts to the other ingredients. Add the reserved port and optional cloves.
  9. TURKEY:
  10. SEASON the turkey cavity and fill with the stuffing. Sew up the opening. Rub the turkey thoroughly with butter, salt, pepper, and the rosemary leaves.
  11. PUT the vegetable oil in a roasting pan and put in the turkey, breast side up, on a rack or not, as preferred. Roast for 1 hour (uncovered), basting frequently.
  12. CAREFULLY WARM the Cognac in a small pan. Remove the turkey from the oven and pour the Cognac over it. Cover the breast with the sliced pancetta, adding a TBSP or so of soft butter if the breast is dry. Baste the turkey and return to the oven.
  13. ROAST for about 2 1/2 hours longer, basting two or three times with a branch of rosemary dipped in pan juices, or use a spoon or bulb baster. Serve the turkey surrounded by the cooked fruits.
NOTE: To test the turkey for doneness, use a cake tester to pierce the meat; the juices should be clear. You can also test by seeing whether the leg moves easily. The turkey should be well browned.

Adapted from:
Italian Cooking in the Grand Tradition
Jo Bettoja and Anna Maria Cornetto
The Dial Press




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