Oddly enough, turkey is a popular meat in Umbria, and there it is raised to have some flavour. Legs and breasts are sold separately.
You would be unwise to tell your dinner guests the English translation of this dish before they taste it. This is an Umbrian adaption of the North Italian speciality, Vitello Tonnato. This substitution crops up a lot round Orvieto; turkey breast is roasted with rosemary like veal rump, escalopes of fillet are breaded and fried like Scallopini di Vitello, the legs are braised in red wine. Anything at all except roast the whole bird: the Italians are too canny with their ingredients, clever enough to always butcher a large bird and use the different parts to their best advantage. The part of the recipe devoted to roasting the breast makes a delicious hot dish without the tuna sauce, perhaps a hot dish one day then cold the next. Sounds like Christmas?
The turkey breast should be boned, skinned and not stuffed. If you get one from the supermarket, untie it and remove the stuffing and skin, re-tie and proceed.
The morning or day before serving, roast the turkey breast.
Add the wine and baste.
Check for doneness by inserting a small knife into the centre of the joint; leave for a few seconds then remove and test the heat of the blade on your lips. If you burn your lips the turkey is too done. If warm, then the meat is perfect; if cold or very lukewarm,
Allow the turkey to cool, out of the fridge, occasionally rolling it over in the remaining pan juices.
To make the tuna sauce, it’s food processor time! My kind of cooking: put the egg, parsley, tuna and lemon juice in the processor bowl, season and whirl. Now add the oil in a thin stream with the machine running until you have a thick mayonnaise-like substance. Check the seasoning and acidity, and add more oil or lemon to your taste. Remove from the food processor bowl, but do not refrigerate, it may separate. Do not make too long in advance either as the fragrance of the lemon and parsley quickly fade.
To assemble the dish, cut the turkey into 1 cm steaks across the breast. Arrange one or two smaller slices on individual plates. Coat the meat with tuna sauce and arrange the painfully halved anchovies in a grid pattern on each one. (Think noughts and crosses here.) Dot each square with a caper and serve with an extra wedge of lemon if you fancy.
© 1996 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.