Turkey, Stuffing & Gravy the Italian-American Way

Roasted Turkey Infused with rosemary, sage, lemon & garlic resting
Roasted Turkey stuffed with aromatics resting

This year I’m making a roasted boneless turkey breast stuffed with spinach and prosciutto. But I’m thinking fondly of my whole succulent roasted turkey and stuffing. Did I make the wrong choice for my Thanksgiving table?

Nope, I’ve gotten over my ambivalence. I’m sticking with the stuffed turkey breast and roasted garlic & olive oil mashed potatoes. But if you want a whole roasted turkey, with a delicious sausage-chestnut stuffing and classic pan gravy, try my favorite recipes for all three.

The turkey is infused with rosemary, sage, garlic and lemon. The stuffing studded with sausage and chestnuts is a perfect flavorful partner for the moist and tender turkey. The easy pan gravy brings it all together.

Take advantage of that hot oven. Add my easy roasted brussels sprouts and your Thanksgiving plate is complete.

Make up your mind already. Which way will you go this Thanksgiving?

Either way make my pumpkin ricotta cheesecake the day before to top off your holiday festivities.

Buon appetito! Happy Thanksgiving!

Roasted Turkey Breast with Spinach & Prosciutto Stuffing

Roasted turkey breast stuffed with mellow sauteed spinach and salty prosciutto done in 90 minutes
Roasted turkey breast stuffed with mellow sauteed spinach and salty prosciutto

This is part two of our Thanksgiving special. Check out part one here.

I’m not in the mood to roast a whole turkey this year so I came up with this easy tasty boneless breast roast that’s ready after about 90 minutes in a hot oven.

The flavor of the Diestel turkey is out of this world, so much better than those factory-raised frozen birds in the supermarket.

These off-the-grid organic turkeys from Sonora, in the Sierra foothills, get to range about the farm and eat only organic grains raised on the farm.

The breast meat is tender and full of mild flavor. My stuffing and roasting broth keep the breast moist while it roasts.

Make sure each bite has some of the crispy skin, tender breast meat and mellow spinach stuffing topped with salty prosciutto. You won’t be sorry.

Add a starch and your Thanksgiving dinner is ready to serve in less than 2 hours. That way you can linger over your morning coffee before getting ready for your guests.

Watch me make roasted garlic and olive oil mashed potatoes. Or how about roasted brussel sprouts or a green bean salad?

Make my easy pumpkin ricotta cheesecake the day before for a light dessert full of fall spice.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Buon appetito!

Roasted Turkey Breast with Spinach & Prosciutto Stuffing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A Thanksgiving dinner that you can cook in under 2 hours. You won't believe the complex flavor of the moist tender breast and the mellow spinach and salty prosciutto stuffing.
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 4 Pound turkey breast, deboned and butterflied
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup grated parmigiano
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 sprigs fresh flat Italian parsley
  • 3 lemon slices
  • 4 leaves fresh sage
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Over medium heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a wide pot.
  3. When the oil is hot saute the onions until they are translucent and tender.
  4. Add about an inch of water to the bottom of the pot and raise the heat to medium-high.
  5. Add as much of the spinach as you can to the pot and turn it to mix it with the onions and to help it all wilt. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  6. Add more spinach until all of it is wilted.
  7. Put the spinach in a bowl and mix in the grated parmigiano and set the spinach aside to cool.
  8. Butterfly the breast and lay flat open, pounding with a meat mallet to create even thickness throughout. (Save time. Ask your butcher to butterfly the breast for you.)
  9. Spread the spinach mixture across the breast, leaving a 1½ inch border all around.
  10. Put the prosciutto slices in a single layer over the spinach.
  11. Beginning at one end, firmly roll up the turkey breast and use 4 equally spaced kitchen lengths of kitchen twine to secure the roast well.
  12. In a casserole lay out the parsley, sage and lemon slices to form a bed for the roast.
  13. Rub a tablespoon of olive oil well all over.
  14. Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground black pepper evenly over the roast.
  15. Pour in the white wine, water (or broth) into the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle olive oil over the liquid.
  16. Roast in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 1 hour 20 minutes, or until the turkey breast reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees. The temperature will rise to 160 degrees as it rests. (I'm using an off-the-grid organic turkey but if your roasting a supermarket turkey you may want to leave it in the oven longer, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.)
  17. Baste the roast with the pan juices several times during roasting. (Add more wine and water to maintain about an inch of liquid in the casserole.
  18. Remove the breast roll from the pan and loosely cover with foil.
  19. Pour the pan juices through a strainer into a pan. Skim off excess oil.
  20. Keep the pan gravy over very low heat to keep it warm.
  21. After the roast has rested for about 20 minutes, slice it thinly and arrange the spirals on a serving platter.
  22. Pour the pan gravy over the slices. (If you have more gravy, serve it at the table.)
  23. Serve immediately.


Roasted Turkey & All The Fixings

Roasted Turkey Resting

Still undecided about your Thanksgiving dinner?

Try my recipes for Roasted Turkey scented with rosemary, sage, lemon and garlic, chestnut/sausage stuffing and easy pan gravy.

While the oven is hot, add brussels sprouts roasted with pine nuts and parmigiano and butternut squash roasted with honey and sage. Just add your favorite appetizers, dessert and wines for a delicious Thanksgiving meal.

How easy is that? No slaving over pots and pans on top of the stove, everything just roasts in the oven. Make the easy pan gravy while the turkey rests on the counter before carving. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your friends and family around the Thanksgiving table.

There are lots of other vegetable recipes on my blog and you can get my free vegetable eBook recipes there too.

Happy Thanksgiving! Buon appetito!

Italian-American Thanksgiving – Roasted Turkey, Chestnut-Sausage Stuffing, and Gravy

Bada Bing.

Last Thanksgiving I posted the Italian-American menu for the 4-course Thanksgiving dinner I served at my house in San Francisco. I gave you great wine suggestions for your meal.

This year I’m sharing my recipes for the roasted turkey, chestnut and sausage stuffing and gravy that I’ll make with my family in northern Jersey. I love this meal but I only make it once a year so I’m always happy when Thanksgiving rolls around.

The turkey is golden brown and scented with rosemary, sage, lemon and garlic. The chestnut and sausage stuffing has a crispy crust and adds big flavor to your Thanksgiving table. The gravy is scented by the herbs and garlic and ties everything together.

I don’t know what vegetables we’ll make or what the antipasti or dolce (dessert) courses will be. We’ll decide when the family gathers next week. We’re very democratic about these things.

I do know one thing. My sister Rose will assemble her famous pedestal fruit bowl to accompany an assortment of roasted nuts to help end our Thanksgiving meal. I know Rose’s will be better than the one I made last year. And I know that it will be the centerpiece for our table, has been since we were kids.

I can’t wait to see everyone. A bunch of us will hit the markets to get the best ingredients. Six of us spanning 3 generations will be in the kitchen cooking together. Best of all 20 will be at the table for a day of feasting.

Have a great Thanksgiving! Buon appetito!



Menu: Italian-American Thanksgiving Dinner

Italian Thanksgiving Dinners


Updated for 2011: Turkey, stuffing and gravy recipe.

I’m first generation Italian-American. Most of my friends were second generation and were more Americanized than my family. In my early years we celebrated this American holiday Thanksgiving but the meal was really Italian.

As my siblings and I got older we realized that we were different. We started complaining that our Thanksgiving wasn’t like the one all our friends enjoyed. Slowly, the traditional 4-course Italian meal morphed, the roasted capon and its contorni (side dishes) were replaced by a turkey and all the American trimmings. From my early teens our Thanksgiving dinner was more American but still delicious.

In our family, Thanksgiving dinner started about 2:00 with about 20 at the table. Actually, the adults ate at the dining room table and the kids at a table set up in the living room on the other side of an open arch between the two rooms. For the kids moving to the adult table was a rite of passage.

The formal dinner lasted about 3 or 4 hours. The conversation was in Italian and English with lots of laughter. You could get up from the table in between courses to rest or watch television. When we made it through the last course the table was cleared and a poker game ensued. About 7 o’clock, all of the leftovers were back on the table so you could enjoy your favorites again. By 10 it was all over.

Here’s a typical Thanksgiving dinner menu when I was growing up in Jersey…

We started with a big antipasti platter: prosciutto, salami, smoked scamorza cheese, provolone, marinated peppers, artichoke hearts, mixed olives, all atop a bed of lettuce dressed with a bit of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and dried oregano.

Primo piatto. My mom made fresh pasta with a long-cooked tomato gravy: ravioli with a ricotta stuffing; cavatelli, a ricotta or potato gnocchi; fettuccine; or maybe long fusilli.

Secondo piatto. Roasted capon with oven roasted potatoes and vegetables, later a roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli drizzled with lemon and olive oil.

Dolce. Italian pastries and a bowl of mixed roasted nuts and fresh fruit.

Plenty of fresh baked Italian bread and plenty of wine.

Here’s the Americanized Thanksgiving dinner I’m serving this year:

  • Buratta cheese/prosciutto/sundried cherry tomatoes crostini and Prosecco as my guests arrive
  • Chicken soup with escarole and orzo
  • Roasted turkey, chestnut and sausage stuffing, candied sweet potatoes with butter and maple syrup, creamed spinach, cranberry relish
  • Apple pie and vanilla gelato and espresso

The antipasti wine will be what’s left of the Prosecco; with the soup a Casa Alle Vacche Vernaccia di San Gimignano (2009 Tuscany); and with the turkey a choice of either Vitiano Rosato (Umbria 2008) or for something fuller bodied, Feudi di San Gregorio Rubrato Aglianico (2006 Campania). With dessert my homemade limoncello or strawberry liqueur or both as long as you aren’t driving!

Update: Thanksgiving morning. Wow, what a surprise this morning. I was out of dried porcini mushrooms. OMG. Had to go down to Real Foods on Polk to get some. It was OK I needed a cappuccino from Peets and fresh bread for the crostini. We scored rolls from my friend Earl’s place Lotta’s Bakery lower down on Polk to eat with the turkey. Never know about those menus. They always have a way of changing especially when one of your guests has a desire for something that you have to make or when you find some unexpected things at the market.

The Village was a buzz yesterday with Thanksgiving shoppers. One of the local chefs was at Union Produce. She’s making a cornbread stuffing. Got to get that recipe. Told her I was making sausage and chestnut stuffing with sage and she said just like Italia as she jabbed the air with her finger generally pointing east.

Everything is ready. Some changes to the menu because of what I found in the market. Union Produce had Italian muscat grapes but they were all gone. They did have fat and sweet chestnuts from Italia for the stuffing.


The buratta is out replaced by fresh cow’s milk stracciatelle those little rags inside the buratta made by a guy across the Bay. Cipolini onions in agrodolce and mixed Italian olives have been added.


The guys at Little City gave be the back of a turkey and a neck. That’s the brodo (also used it to moisten the stuffing) and the orzo is replaced at the suggestion of my friend at A.G. Ferrari with fregola sarda tostata little toasted spitball-size semolina pasta with a nutty flavor.


At the urging of my sister Rose I’ve added a mixed fresh fruit bowl with Thompson grapes, local small organic pears, apples and mandarins. Oh, and a bowl of mixed roasted nuts. Rose made the fruit bowl for holidays growing up. Her handiwork was always the centerpiece of the table.

Let me know if you want any recipes.

Updated for 2011: Turkey, stuffing and gravy recipe.

Photo by Joe Marinaro