Damn Fine Turkey Nereto


Damn fine turkey aka Nereto Turkey (Tacchino alla Neretese); is not something I ever thought I’d be either eating or writing about.  I had been put off for turkey as a teenager in the UK after too many servings of dry old bird, and after watching a documentary on battery-reared turkeys.  But whilst up in Nereto, in Teramo, for its S. Martino festa celebrations that span the 10 & 11 November, I got to try this succulent local turkey dish, that uses naturally reared birds and which comes of age when traditionally Italy uncorks its new wine (Vino Novello).

Succulence is an adjective that I really couldn’t imagine previously applying to turkey, but this local Abruzzo style of roasted turkey turns all that on its head…  it’s so moist, so tender, so flavoursome it’s the best roast turkey I’ve tried in 25 years; the smell was the thing that convinced me to try it after such a long abstinence!

Locally in Nereto and the surrounding villages it is served with verze strascinate.  This is boiled Savoy cabbage that is then dried and  fried with olive oil, garlic and a little pancetta, garnished on top with the sweet long cone-shaped chillies called corno di capra (yes named after Goat’s horns) that have been fried or roasted; carbs come in the way of crusty wholemeal bread.  You could go down the roasted potato route but to be honest this style of roast turkey is so rich you really won’t need
them, the cabbage will suffice.

Turkey Neretese (Tacchino alla Neretese) Recipe
Serves 4

1.5 kg turkey
2 cloves garlic
60 ml virgin olive oil
60 ml melted lard
240 ml dry white wine
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary stalks
2 bay leaves
Water and pepper to taste


Wash the turkey and cut it into jointed pieces.
Rub each joint with coarse sea salt and depending on your choice of flavour, rub in the olive oil and lard into the joints.  The restaurant we ate this in used half and half.
Add the turkey and remained olive oil/lard mixture into the roasting tin and add chopped garlic, rosemary and wine.
Depending on your oven you will need to add water to the turkey juices as it cooks making sure the bottom never dries out.
Roast for 2.5 hours on a medium heat  (325°F (160°C) making sure that you turn and baste the turkey frequently
Slice the jointed pieces into pieces that are plate ready and drizzle with the remaining juices.

Sam Dunham
Author: Sam Dunham

Sam is a very lucky midlife 'mamma' to A who is 12 and juggles her work as a self-employed freelance SEO food and travel copywriter and EFL teacher. She is the founder of the Life In Abruzzo Cultural Association, co-founder of Let's Blog Abruzzo. she is the founder of the 'English in the Woods' initiative, teaching English outdoors in a forest style school.

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