Porchetta is a boneless Italian pork roast in which the skin, meat, fat, and stuffing are rolled together and cooked over a wood-burning fire. This Thanksgiving, channel your inner guido and consider making a turchetta: Skin and debone your turkey, marinate the meat in herbs and spices, then roll the skin, meat, and some sausage stuffing into a giant roulade. Warning: This is not for the faint of heart. You will become one with turkey slime.
What to buy: The large flakes of kosher salt are best for marinating meat. Because kosher salts vary in weight and salinity, we give you the quantity needed for two popular brands, Diamond Crystal and Morton.
Special equipment: You will need a large piece of ultrafine woven cheesecloth, about 22 inches square, to help secure the roulade for cooking. It can be purchased at cooking supply stores or online.
A very long piece of butcher’s twine, about 162 inches or 4 1/2 yards, is needed to keep the roulade together. Twine can be purchased at most cooking supply or hardware stores.
Game plan: This recipe takes two days. The first day you skin and debone the turkey, marinate the meat in the herbs and spices, and make the stuffing. The second day you roll the meat up and roast it.
This recipe was featured as part of our story on Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes, Traditional to Trippy.
- 1Place fennel seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat. Toast, shaking the pan often, until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly in the pan. Transfer to a spice grinder, add peppercorns, and grind into a powder. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- 2Add salt, rosemary, garlic, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Add olive oil and stir to make a paste; set aside.
For the turkey:
- 1Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity; reserve the neck and discard the giblets. Remove and discard any wire or plastic holding the legs together. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water. Thoroughly pat dry with paper towels.
- 2Remove the wishbone: Place the turkey breast-side up on a clean surface with the neck facing you. Lift up the skin at the neck and, using your fingers, locate the wishbone (shaped like an upside-down “V”) within the muscle between the two breast halves. Using a very sharp paring or boning knife, cut along the wishbone to loosen it. Tug to dislodge and remove it from the breast; discard.
- 3Remove the skin (the goal is to remove the skin in one large piece to use as the turchetta wrapper): Turn the turkey breast-side down with the neck facing you. Using a sharp boning knife, cut through the skin along the backbone from neck to tail. Lift and pull the skin, cutting it away from the flesh on both sides of the bird. (Don’t worry if it rips slightly.) Stop when you reach the wings, leaving the skin on them. Move on to the legs: Pull and cut the skin off and away from the thigh bones, and then pull it down over the drumsticks. Cut the skin around the ankles to release it.
- 4Turn the turkey breast-side up again with the neck facing you. Pull and cut the skin away from the breast on both sides until nearly all of the skin is removed.
- 5Turn the turkey breast-side down again with the neck facing you. Cut the wings at the joint between the flat and the drumette. Remove the flats and wing tips; set them aside with the reserved neck. Pull and cut the skin away from the wing shoulders and drumettes, releasing the skin entirely from the bird; set the skin aside. Remove the wing shoulders and drumettes completely by cutting around the shoulder joints to release them. Place all the wing pieces, the reserved neck, and the skin in a sealed container and refrigerate.
- 6Remove the meat from the turkey: Remove the legs by first cutting around the small round circles of dark meat (called oysters) on either side of the backbone, keeping the dark meat attached to the legs. Pop the legs out until the hip joints are exposed, then cut around the joints and through the meat at the hips to remove the legs.
- 7Turn the turkey breast-side up with the neck facing you. Remove the breasts and tenderloins by slicing neck-to-tail along the breastbone and pulling and cutting the meat away from both sides of the rib cage. Separate the tenderloins from the breasts and set both aside. Remove any remaining meat from the back and sides of the carcass and set it aside. Discard the carcass, or if you choose, reserve it for making turkey stock.
- 8Trim the removed meat: Remove the large tendon running the length of the tenderloins by holding one end of the tendon with a paper towel and scraping the meat away from it with a sharp knife. Remove the meat from the legs, making sure to also remove the thin, delicate bones; set the meat aside and discard the bones. Remove any silver skin, bones, sinew, and fat from the leg, breast, back, and side meat.
- 9Cut each breast in half crosswise. Cut the two thicker breast pieces in half horizontally to make 2 thinner pieces.
- 10Weigh the turkey meat and transfer it to a large bowl. For every pound of meat, add 1 tablespoon of the reserved fennel-rosemary rub. For example, for 8 pounds of meat, use the entire rub, 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup. (If you don’t own a scale, a 12-pound turkey will need about 5 tablespoons of the rub, a 15-pound turkey about 6 1/2 tablespoons, and an 18-pound turkey about 8 tablespoons.) Rub the spice paste thoroughly into the meat until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- 11The next day, preheat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- 12Roll the turchetta: Remove the turkey parts, skin, and meat from the refrigerator. Have your cheesecloth and butcher’s twine ready, as well as small, separate bowls of salt, pepper, stuffing, and olive oil. Lay the reserved turkey skin, outer skin facing down, on a work surface. (Set the neck and wing pieces aside.) Trim the excess fat from the skin and discard. Season the skin generously all over with salt and pepper. Place the meat pieces in a single even layer over the skin, alternating between white and dark meats, so that the skin is entirely covered. Spread the stuffing evenly over the meat, pressing down gently so it adheres.
- 13Starting at one of the short ends, tightly roll the turkey up into a large tube. Rub the turkey roll with oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place the roll on the cheesecloth, seam side down, and wrap the cheesecloth tightly around it. Tightly gather the excess cheesecloth at one end of the roll and tie it with twine to close. Continue to tie the twine crosswise down the length of the roll at about 1-1/2-inch intervals, cutting it as needed. Finish by tightly gathering the excess cheesecloth at the other end and tying it closed.
- 14Place the celery, onion, and reserved turkey neck and wing pieces in a large roasting pan. Drizzle generously with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to evenly coat. Add the wine, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Place a roasting rack in the roasting pan and over the onion mixture, then place the turchetta, seam side down, on the rack. Roast until lightly browned, about 40 minutes, using two tongs to flip the turchetta halfway through the cooking time.
- 15Reduce the heat to 325°F and continue to roast, flipping and basting the turchetta with pan juices every 30 minutes, until the internal temperature registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into several locations, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours more. (If the pan juices start to dry up, add a little water to keep the pan from burning.) Transfer the roasting rack with the turchetta, along with all the wing pieces, to a rimmed baking sheet and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
For the gravy:
- 1Place the roasting pan across two burners over medium-high heat. When the pan juices boil, add the vermouth and scrape the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to release any browned bits. Cook until the alcohol evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat and discard the turkey neck. Strain the pan juices through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium heatproof bowl or measuring cup, pressing on the solids. Discard the solids. Using a spoon, skim away as much fat from the surface as possible; discard the fat. The amount of pan juices collected will vary. If you have less than 1 1/2 cups, add enough chicken broth to bring it up to 1 1/2 cups total; set the pan juices aside.
- 2Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and let it bubble, whisking constantly, until it’s the color of peanut butter, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the pan juice–broth mixture until smooth (be careful, it may bubble up). Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, taste, and season as needed with salt and pepper.
- 1Transfer the turchetta to a cutting board. Cut off the twine with a knife or kitchen shears and discard. Slowly peel away the cheesecloth, being careful not to tear the skin. Carve into 3/4-inch rounds, transfer to a serving dish, and serve with the reserved wing pieces and gravy.