Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pesto crusted Turkey

Well this is my final offering for Thanksgiving Day, it’s sad in a way. As I mentioned in yesterdays post my friends and I would gather all the employees that didn’t go home for the holiday, and cook them Turkey dinner. We did this for five years, so as a result I have had many variations of the bird.
  This is one of my long time favorites, it combines my personal favorite; Italian food with the tradition of Thanksgiving. I love, love, love Pesto sauce… Something so simple to make that has tremendous flavor. Not that I’m “drinking my own kool-aid” but this Turkey is great, it always gets great reviews.
Pesto Crusted Turkey
Turkey breasts- 10 pounds (bone-in)
Basil- 2.25 ounces (fresh)
Pine nuts- ½ cup (toasted)
Parmesan cheese- ½ cup (fresh, grated)
Garlic- 2 tbsp (fresh, chopped)
Salt & pepper- to taste
Olive oil- ¾ cup
Carrots- 2 (chopped large)
Onion- 1 (quartered)
Celery stalks- 3 (chopped large)
Chicken broth- ¾ cup
Method to the Madness
1)      In a sauté pan over medium to low heat toast the pine nuts until golden brown. Be careful they will toast fast. Set aside.
2)      In a food processor add the Basil, Pine nuts, Garlic, Parmesan cheese, and pulse a couple of times. Drizzle in the Olive oil with the processor running, and season with salt & pepper. Set aside until ready for use. For best results make the Pesto a day ahead and refrigerate over-night.
3)      Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out, pat dry with paper towel. Carefully make a pocket between the skin and the breasts, and stuff with ½ of the Pesto. Season the bird with salt & pepper, and cover the rest of the bird with remaining Pesto sauce. You could also do this a day ahead of time or at least 4 hours ahead.
4)      Pre-heat the oven to 325. In a roasting pan add the carrots, celery, onion and chicken stock in the bottom. Place the roasting rack on top of the veggies and the bird on the rack. And bake for 20 minutes per pound. With about an hour to go put a stick of butter on top of bird. When the    internal temperature reaches 160. Take out the bird and let stand for 15 minutes, carry-over cooking will cook it the rest of the way. Save all the juices for your gravy.
5)      Carve it up and enjoy!!
* Note 10 pounds worked out perfect for 4 people.


  1. so unique! I've never heard of a pesto crusted turkey before. It looks delicious!

  2. That looks great - will have to give that a go with a chicken!!!