2008 was our first Thanksgiving away from home! We had travelled to Italy with two friends and our plan was to celebrate Thanksgiving by cooking dinner in the “villa” near Lago Trasimeno in Umbria.
My husband and I had grocery shopped in Tuscany and Umbria two years earlier and knew beforehand that Italians eat turkey but not the whole, roasted, browned beauties we were used to. What to do? Luckily, one of us spoke some French because the owner of the villa and his wife spoke no English, only Italian and French! At that time my Italian was even more sketchy than it is now and it’s not wonderful now! So we fumbled along with the French using lots of hand signals somehow getting the message across that we wanted to buy a fresh whole turkey. He said he “had a friend” who he could get one for from.
Sure enough, the day before Thanksgiving, Giorgio appears with promised turkey! It looked great, weighed about 18 pounds and seemed perfect, with all the giblets intact for making gravy. Mille grazie Giorgio! How much do we owe you? Without blinking, Giorgio said 90€! We four were a little taken aback at the cost but heck…we are celebrating Thanksgiving in Italy! By the way 90€ at that time equaled approximately $130.00! (This included 15€ delivery charge). It better be good!
On Thanksgiving Day the guys received outdoor wood burning oven lessons from Giorgio. I made stock from the neck, gizzards and other bits which ultimately became a lovely gravy. The bread stuffing was made from local pears that were given to us, Italian sausage and a few fennel seeds, all piled into into a greased dish and into the wood burning oven it went. (Link to recipe below).
We all agreed…this is the best damned turkey any of us had ever eaten!
Even though we were in Rome last year at Thanksgiving, spending time wandering around the Jewish Ghetto, ate lunch at Da Giggetto, that turkey dinner in Umbria was a hard act to follow! Ah…memories.
Helpful link to Italian Sausage, Bread Stuffing With Pears.