Happy New Year! While I truly wish this was a post about how our family is ringing in this new year in Tuscany, I’m still excited to tell you a bit about how we brought a taste of Tuscany to our table this holiday season. I should begin by making a confession…or two. The first is that lately I have been cooking about as much as I’ve been blogging. The second is that it took free samples of olive oil to convince me to make this meal for my family. Funny what I’ll do for food. When I was contacted by Carapelli Olive Oil asking if I’d be interested in testing a few of their recipes, I almost didn’t even respond. (I KNOW! How rude! But with the holidays and other things…to be explained in an upcoming post…I just didn’t think I could cook anything, much less something I would then have to blog about!) But, I do love olive oil….so I said, “Sure!”
So, armed with the recipes I was given (and my samples of EVOO), I headed to our local grocery store, where I quickly realized I was in way over my head. Here’s why:
- As far as I can recall, I have never eaten Brussels sprouts (much less cooked them) so I had no idea how to tell if the ones I was buying were fresh or good or whatever.
- Here in Small Town, Mississippi, grocery shopping is limited. Meaning…while I did find prosciutto (that was a Christmas miracle), fennel and white balsamic vinegar were a no go. And don’t get me started on the quest for fresh herbs.
- Oh, and did mention that I don’t cook any more?
So, I had to make a decision. I could head to the big city, or I could just do my best with what I had. It’s the week after Christmas…what would you have chosen?
I chose dried herbs, a few substitutions and rotisserie chicken instead of Tuscan Roast Turkey. But, let me tell you…even with doing a few things “the lazy way,” we had one delicious meal. It included the aforementioned chicken, Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Prosciutto and Olive Oil and Herb Mashed Potatoes. And, I learned a few things:
- Brussels Sprouts are good. Seriously. I was not the only one newly convinced at this meal.
- Our local store has prosciutto..and pancetta…and marscapone. Who knew?
- Mashed potatoes do not have to have butter to be delicious.
And the olive oil? Perfect. My mom and I even used some in the guacamole we made for a family gathering, and it added the perfect flavor…strong but subtle enough, if you know what I mean.
Now, are you ready for the recipes? I’m including all of the ones I received, but I’ll make notes on the two I used. Enjoy them…I know we did!
Tuscan Roast Turkey
Serving Size: 16
1 16-pound young turkey
Kosher salt, to taste
1 cup Tuscan Herb Paste
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons celery salt
3 fennel stalks with fronds, rough
3 onions, large dice
1 stalk celery, small dice
2 1/4 quarts chicken stock
3 ounces all-purpose flour
Remove giblets from turkey’s cavity, rinse cavity and pat dry, set aside. Season turkey inside and out with Kosher salt.
Mix Tuscan Herb Paste with crushed fennel seeds and celery salt. Starting at the neck of the bird, slip your hand between the meat and the skin to loosen.
Rub half the paste mix under skin, and rub remaining paste inside the cavity and over the rest of the turkey.
Season all over with kosher salt.
Place two-thirds of the chopped onion and fennel stalks inside cavity. Truss bird.
Place turkey in a roasting pan. Roast at 400°F for 30 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 325°F and continue cooking the turkey to an internal temperature of 160°F, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Baste turkey often during cooking with juices from pan. If turkey begins to overbrown, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
As turkey roasts, simmer giblets (neck, heart and gizzard), the other one-third of the fennel stalk, onion mix and diced celery in 1 quart chicken stock until tender, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
When turkey is done, remove from roasting pan and set aside to rest. Degrease roasting pan,
reserving 3 ounces of fat to make a roux.
Deglaze pan with a small amount of chicken stock. Transfer stock to a saucepot, and add remaining stock and broth from giblets. Bring to a simmer and degrease.
Make a blond roux with reserved fat and flour. Add roux to the liquid, whisking well to prevent lumps. Simmer 15 minutes. Strain gravy through a fine-meshed strainer. Adjust seasoning.
Tuscan Herb Paste
Yield: 2 1/4 cups
3/4 cup Carapelli Extra Light in Taste Olive Oil
1 cup Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon fresh basil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1/2 packed cup fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Blend herbs and crushed red pepper with light olive oil using a blender or food processor, then stir in extra virgin olive oil.
Serving Ideas: Rub under the skin of turkey for Tuscan Roast Turkey. Use to flavor vegetables for grilling and mushrooms for roasting.
*Olive Oil and Herb Mashed Potatoes
Serving Size: 12
10 8-ounce potatoes, (about 5 pounds)
peeled and cut in half
3/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup Tuscan Herb paste (*I used a mixture of dried herbs and fresh parsley.)
1/2 cup Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup heavy cream, warmed
Boil potatoes in salted water. When cooked tender, mash potatoes. Mix salt and pepper with Tuscan Herb Paste, olive oil and warm heavy cream. Fold into potatoes.
Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Prosciutto
Serving Size: 12
2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, blanched,
4 tablespoons Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion, julienned
1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (*We didn’t have white balsamic so used regular. I’m not familiar enough with the different types to know what effect the substitution had on the flavor, but the dish was delicious.)
Fresh cracked black pepper
Trim stem end of Brussels sprouts. Discard wilted outside leaves. Boil in salted water until cooked through (about 7 minutes) until just tender. Shock in ice water. Quarter the cooled sprouts.
In large skillet over medium high heat, caramelize onions in olive oil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring
frequently. Remove from pan. Place in bowl, mix with prosciutto.
In the same skillet, over high heat, lightly brown Brussels sprouts. (I just have to say that, at this point, I added the salt and pepper and tasted the sprouts…and promptly fell in love with them. I’ll be cooking them this way on a fairly regular basis, I think…It’s simple and divine!)
Add onion-prosciutto mix, toss.
Deglaze by adding white balsamic vinegar and scraping bottom of pan. Season with salt and pepper.
These recipes (and the Carapelli extra virgin olive oil) were provided by Carapelli. For more recipes, visit www.carapelliusa.com. Carapelli is also offering an online coupon for $1.00 off any one bottle of Carapelli Olive Oil, 17 oz. or larger. (I bought a bottle of the light tasting Carapelli and am using it in almost everything!)
(Disclosure: other than the olive oil samples and the recipes, I was not compensated in any way for this review.)