7 Recipes to Give Your Thanksgiving An Italian Kick

By November 11, 2016 56 comments Permalink

Starter: Chicken Liver Crostini with Pickled Shallots

Your Thanksgiving meal is tired, unchanged, and uninspired. Sure, that’s part of the tradition: The first Thanksgiving, after all, was dedicated to the fact that the pilgrims had food to eat at all. But why let that stop you from trying something different? Our vote would be to look to Italy for inspiration, a country that does giant communal meals better than any.

The first thing Italians would do with the traditional American feast is take a “less is more” approach. There’s far too many plates passed for optimal enjoyment on any given Thanksgiving. The approach to the plates being served can be simplified as well, creating an overall easier experience for the hosts and a more satisfying one for all the palates gathered around the table. Here is your pared-down, tasty Italian perspective on our favorite food holiday (all recipes based on serving 12).

Credit: Getty Images

Starter: Chicken Liver Crostini with Pickled Shallots


1 lb chicken livers, drained/dried/trimmed

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion minced

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp dried sage

1/4 cup cognac or red wine

3/4 lb shallots, peeled and sliced into 1/4’’ rounds

1 12-oz bottle of red wine vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup salt

1 large baguette, sliced into 1/3’’ rounds


For the livers:

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.

Saute the onions until soft.

Add chicken livers in an even row; season with salt and pepper.

Cook without moving until thoroughly browned (4–5 minutes).

Flip to other side; season with salt and pepper.

Cook until browned (2–3 minutes).

Deglaze with cognac or red wine.

Toss and transfer to a food processor (scraping out as much liquid from the pan as possible).

Pulse processor while adding a thin stream of the remaining olive oil (as needed).

Steady blend until smooth.

Remove to a bowl.

Add sage.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the shallots:

Pour the vinegar into a small, deep saucepan.

Add the salt and sugar, stir until dissolved.

Add the shallots.

Bring to a boil; remove from heat.

Let rest for 20 minutes.

Remove shallots from the mixture.

To serve:

Spread each slice of baguette with a healthy spread of liver. Top with shallot rounds.

Credit: Getty Images

Starter: Chicken Liver Crostini with Pickled Shallots

Main Course: Herb-Garlic stuffed Turkey Breast with Olive Oil & Honey Glaze

2 whole bone-in turkey breasts, 6 1/2 to 7 lbs each

10 cloves of minced garlic

3 tbsp of chopped thyme leaves

3 tbsp of chopped rosemary leaves

4 tsp of kosher salt

1 tsp of black pepper

4 tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice

zest of two lemons

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of honey

2 cups of liquid (chicken stock or white wine or water)


Preheat oven to 325°.

Combine garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a bowl. Mix.

Place breasts, skin-side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.

Gently loosen the skin with fingers and spread as much of the herb mix as possible directly onto the meat without tearing the skin.

Spread the rest of the mix onto the outside of the skin.

Add a cup of liquid to the bottom of the pan.

Roast the breasts until the skin is just brown and crisp (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours).

Combine remaining olive oil with the honey.

Remove breasts from the oven and quickly spread the olive oil–honey mix over the skin using a pastry brush.

Return to oven and roast (15–20 minutes) until the skin is golden.

Remove, cover loosely with foil and let breasts rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Spoon accumulated juices over the meat and serve.

Credit: Dolphia Nandi / Getty Images

Main Course: Herb-Garlic stuffed Turkey Breast with Olive Oil & Honey Glaze

Main Course: Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Main Course: Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts


2 lbs of brussels sprouts, ends cut off

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp of kosher salt

1 tsp of ground black pepper

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar


Heat oven to 400°.

Toss the brussels sprouts with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Transfer to a baking sheet.

Roast, shaking the pan on occasion, until the sprouts are just golden (20–25 minutes).

Add the vinegar and toss until evenly coated.

Return to oven for five minutes.

Credit: Maren Caruso / Getty Images

Main Course: Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Main Course: Creamy, Quick Polenta

2 cups of instant or fine corn meal

8 cups of chicken stock or water

2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

1 8-oz container of mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup rough chopped walnuts, toasted

2 tbsp of room temperature butter


Bring water or stock to a simmer in a large saucepan or dutch oven.

Add the salt.

Slowly whisk in the polenta.

Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking constantly, for one minute.

Remove from heat.

Stir in the white pepper and mascarpone.

Transfer to a serving dish that has been coated with the butter.

Top with toasted walnuts.

Credit: Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Main Course: Sausage and Ciabatta Stuffing

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lb sweet sausage, removed from casing

1 carrot, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 fennel bulb, separated from stalks, cored, and julienned (save and chop fronds from the stalks)

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup chopped sage

1 large loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 1″ pieces and lightly toasted

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Heat oven to 375°.

Add olive oil to a saute pan over medium-high heat.

Add sausage, stirring often, breaking into pieces, until the meat is browned.

Remove sausage, with a slotted spoon, to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Saute fennel, carrots, and onion until soft in pan juices (5–7 minutes).

Transfer with a slotted spoon to bowl with sausage.

Add sage, bread, salt, and pepper to bowl with saute pan; toss to combine with the drippings.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add to bowl and mix evenly with the other ingredients.

Spread evenly in a large baking dish coated with a sheen of olive oil.

Dab with stock until slightly moist (save the remaining stock).

Bake until golden brown and bread is slightly crisp on top, 30–35 minutes (dab with remaining stock as needed to keep moist).

Garnish with chopped fennel fronds.

Credit: Grace Clementine / Getty Images

Main Course: Carmalized Shallot Sauce

2 lbs large shallots, peeled (roots left on)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp of unsalted butter

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

3 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup red wine vinegar


Preheat oven to 400°.

Add butter and olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat.

When the butter has melted, add the shallots and the sugar. Toss.

Cook, tossing occasionally, until the shallots begin to brown (10 minutes or so).

Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss.

Put in the oven and cook until the shallots are tender (20–30 minutes).

Credit: Getty Images

Main Course: Carmalized Shallot Sauce

The Dessert Plate

A Platter of Suggested Offerings:

  • Fennel bulbs sliced into sticks
  • Unpeeled oranges
  • Seedless grapes
  • Assorted nuts
  • Soft pecorino cheese with honey for dripping
  • Dark chocolate
  • Espresso
  • Grappa

The Dessert Plate


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