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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Spring Gobbler PSA: Porchetta, Turkey Style

It is that time of year in the Northeast.  It is getting warmer and the morning frosts are fewer and far between.  We have even had a thunderstorm or two roll through.  But, there are two sure signs that spring is upon us: Spring Peepers and the mating call of wild turkeys.

On a nice evening, I can sit on my deck and hear the creek running down in the valley behind our house along with a symphony of Spring Peepers.  Then occasionally, the chorus is interrupted by the loud gobble of a Tom Turkey, loudly proclaiming to the hens, "I am here and I am ready".  Then on my drive to work, I will see a Tom, tail feathers proudly fanned with his butt in the air.  Around him are 20 or so hens, pecking away at the ground looking for something to eat, completely ignoring the pick up attempts of the proud Tom.  It is a pick up bar scene carried out in nature: one proud male and 20 disinterested females.  Nature imitates life.  Or, is it the other way around?

Spring gobbler is probably the second biggest hunting season around here.  Second only to Whitetail Deer.  I have friends that are fairly successful during the spring season.  So, for the turkey hunters out there, or even those like me that hunt for their turkey in the butcher shop with a debit card, I give you an idea of what to do with your next turkey: Porchetta, Turkey Style.

Porchetta in short is the loin roast of a pig, butterflied, then stuffed with various types of filling or spices.  The loin is then rolled up and tied, then roasted to crispy perfection.  I have wanted to try one for awhile.  But, after visiting my butcher some time back, the opportunity was presented to me in the form of a turkey.

Available to me was a half turkey, boned and tied up for roasting.

I cut the butchers twine to see what was hidden within.  As you can see, I had an assortment of various pieces to work with.

Next, I trimmed up the meat, removing excess fat and some bone.  Next, I pounded out the meat with a tenderizer.  Once complete, I placed in a batch of my Poultry Brine.  In addition, I also added 1/2 cup of dry white wine to the brine from some extra flavor.  I allowed the turkey to brine overnight.

The next day, I set out to make my filling.  I was looking for something simple, so I settled on a paste made of Italian spices, roasted garlic, and olive oil.  I roasted four cloves of garlic in the oven.  Wrap the cloves in aluminum foil with some olive oil.  Wrap tightly and roast for about 45 minutes.  When the garlic was done roasting, I made my paste.

4 garlic cloves, roasted
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

I lightly ground the spices to break up the rosemary, then placed in a bowl.  Then, I added the roasted garlic cloves and started adding enough olive oil until I had a spreadable paste, about 1/4 cup.

Once the paste was done, I removed my turkey from the brine, rinsed well with cold water, and patted dry.  Then it was time to assemble.  I placed the turkey, meat side up on the counter and started spreading.  Once I had a thin layer of herb paste on the meat, I rolled up the pieces and tied with butchers twine.

While the meat prep was finishing up, I lit my smoker and brought to 350 F and added some pecan to the ash pan for smoke flavor.  Before placing my bird on the smoker, I lightly coated with olive oil and some salt and pepper.  One quick note, you can cook your bird in the oven at the same temperature.  You'll just miss out on the smokey flavor.

I smoke roasted the bird until the internal temperature was 165 F and the skin was nice and crispy.  This took about one hour.  Here is the final product.

I served with some steamed cauliflower and sautéed spinach.

I was very happy with how this experiment turned out.  Crisp skin and tender juicy meat combined with the Italian spice blend to produce a great smoke roasted turkey.  If you bag yourself a bird this spring, either in the store or in the woods, you just might want to check out this recipe.

Thanks for stopping by,



  1. That looks and sounds amazing. I wish we had a butcher that sold a turkey roast like that. I am to lazy to bone a turkey myself.Your post was an inspiration to give it a try.

    We have a wild turkey population that frankly is a friggin nuisance. There are no predators and they are not hunted because of the urban setting. They breed like rats. They feed on peoples gardens and leave a mess where ever they congregate. A cyclist was killed by hitting a turkey crossing the road. It is a problem in this neck of the woods.

    1. Chilebrown, our wild turkey population was very low about 15 years ago. But, in an instance where the state did a good job, they have come back. But, we have enough coyotes, fox, and porcupines around here to keep them in check. There is a nice balance. As for the actual recipe, this was a winner. We will be making this again.