Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Italian glossy turkey

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 Italian "glossy" turkey Thanks to public radio's Splendid Table for the inspiration for this Northern Italian technique, known as "glassato" or, perhaps, "glossy."
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Italian glossy turkey

A radio food and cooking program that I really need to tune in more often is American Public Media's "The Splendid Table" with Lynne Rossetto Kasper. It airs here late Sunday mornings, not a time that I'm usually listening to the radio.

Still, I have the program's home page bookmarked (it's at ), and often check it out to catch up on its articles and recipes. If you enjoy learning about food and culinary culture as much as I do, I think you'll be pleased to discover "Splendid Table," if you're not already a fan, that is!

I'm a little short on time this week, so let's move straight to the recipe, a dish I put together the other night based on a technique featured in the program's Sept. 15, 2007 edition.

The recipe, excerpted from Kasper's cookbook, "The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens," comes from the Camonica valley in the Italian Alps northeast of Milan.

The recipe was for chicken pieces finished with a process called "glassato" ("shiny" or "glossy" in Italian) that essentially involves sauteing chicken pieces while building a dark, glistening natural sauce by reducing a pan liquid gradually, a little bit at a time (a procedure somewhat reminiscent of making risotto), reducing each portion to a thick, syrupy glaze before adding a little more liquid and repeating the reduction.

Says Kasper, "each ingredient ... gives up its individual identity to a melding of luscious, layered tastes. In the process, each piece of chicken glazes to the color of polished teak."

Her version is printed on "The Splendid Table" Website at
Reading it over, it occurred to me that it would gain from a bit more simplification - these pure, intense flavors don't need anything fancy - and that it would work just as well with veal, pork or even turkey as chicken. I just happened to have a chunk of skinless, boneless turkey meat handy, and the rest was easy. I browned the meat briefly, added a little garlic and fresh sage, then built the "glassato" with repeated additions of white wine, chicken broth and a little lemon juice. The cubed turkey cooked down to tender, deeply flavored bite-size bits, and the sauce, just as advertised, reduced to a shiny, intense glaze.

This variation that might be called Tacchino glassato val Camonica. Or you can just call it good.


(Serves two)

1 pound boneless turkey thigh meat (or boneless veal roast, chicken breast, pork)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
12-15 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup strong chicken broth
Juice of 1/2 lemon


1. Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes, removing visible fat. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Using a wide, shallow skillet or saute pan large enough to hold all the meat in a single layer, put the olive oil over medium-high heat until it sizzles, then brown the cubed meat on all sides, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.

3. Peel the garlic cloves and cut them into paper-thin slices. Add the garlic and the whole sage leaves to the pan and cook until they warm through, but don't let them brown.

4. Put in about half of the wine, reduce heat to medium, and cook until the liquid is reduced to a thick glaze, stirring and turning the meat occasionally to coat. Continue this process with the chicken broth, adding about 1/4 cup at a time and cooking until it reduces to a glaze. After about 15 minutes, repeat this process with the lemon juice, then continue with the rest of the wine. When it, too, reduces to a glaze, finish up with the last of the broth. The entire glazing process should take about 25 minutes.

5. Check seasoning and serve, with just enough liquid remaining to coat the meat.

MATCHING WINE: Great with Col di Luna Rosé di Valmonte, the dry Italian sparkling rosé featured in Monday's 30 Second Wine Advisor; it would go fine with any Prosecco or other dry bubbly, or just about any crisp, dry white wine.

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