This centerpiece dish starts with a boned whole turkey breast (do this yourself or ask the butcher to do it for you) or two boneless breast halves. It’s rubbed with a spice paste and topped with pancetta for a clever take on porchetta, a traditional Italian preparation of pork wrapped in strips of pork belly or pancetta.
For more turkey recipes visit The Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner.
In a large mortar, pound the coriander and fennel seeds with a pestle to form a coarse powder. Add the rosemary and sage and pound to crush and bruise the herbs. Add the garlic and 1 Tbs. salt and pound until a paste begins to form. Stir in 2 tsp. pepper and 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and set aside.
Pat the turkey breast dry with a paper towel and lay it skin side down on a work surface. Rub half the spice paste over the meat. Turn the turkey over and carefully separate the skin from the meat without tearing the skin. Rub the remaining spice paste under the skin. Reform the breast and tie with 4 to 6 loops of butcher’s twine to make a roll. (If you’re using boneless halves, season the two halves, lay them on top of each other skin side out, and tie them together.) Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
Heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey breast and cook until golden-brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the breast seam side down to a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Crisscross the pancetta over the top of the breast. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. Let the turkey breast rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the pancetta and chop or crumble it. Remove the strings from the turkey, slice into 1/4-inch slices, and serve, sprinkled with the pancetta.
nutrition information (per serving):
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Photo: Scott Phillips