Every year, I love roasting a turkey for the blog sometime in early November. And this year was no exception. Unfortunately, this year, the turkey did not love me back! First of all, I tried a newfangled type of stuffing-something-flavorful-under-the-skin technique featuring sausage and polenta. Don’t do this. The polenta is not firm enough to stay there.
Secondly, spatchcocking turkey, also known as butterflying, seems to be all the rage this year, so I thought I’d give it a go. Just, no. If you go this direction, please have your butcher do it. I nearly ruined my kitchen shears and no matter what I did I couldn’t properly break the breast bone. A completely useless waste of time.
So the bad news is that I have no turkey to share with you this year. The good news is that I’m offering you a main dish alternative for your Thanksgiving Day dinner for those of you who have tired of roasting birds and want a new spin on things.
This is a play on that freakish concoction otherwise known as Turducken, a scary monstrosity created by wrapping a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey. Honestly, it’s never appealed to me in the least. I just can’t. But lasagna – lasagna I can! This is one of the better-tasting and more special lasagnas I’ve made. It begins with equal parts of ground turkey, ground duck, and ground chicken that makes a flavorful, interesting and pleasantly gamey meat sauce that becomes part of a pretty traditional Italian style lasagna. We were so in love. Seriously, no one would miss a turkey if you served this on Thanksgiving.
A few recipe notes: it doesn’t matter what cut of duck you grind. Just grind the fat and skin along with the meat (or have your butcher do it). Use all dark turkey and chicken meat, or at least a combination of dark and white. All-white meat grinds will be too dry. I hope you enjoy it!
Source: slightly adapted from Harold Dieterle’s Kitchen Notebook by Harold Dieterle
2 tbs olive oil
8 oz. ground turkey
8 oz. ground duck (any parts)
8 oz. ground chicken
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 large Spanish onion, minced
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs fennel seeds
1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
28 oz. can tomato puree
15 oz. can tomato puree
Leaves from 1 bunch of basil, loosely torn
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
1 lb. provolone cheese, grated
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. no-boil lasagna noodles
3 lbs. ricotta cheese
First, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large, high-sided skillet or saucepan over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the ground turkey, duck, and chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until the meat is lightly browned and no traces of pink remain, about 6 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate.
Add the onion, garlic, fennel, and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan and stir in all the crushed tomatoes and all the tomato puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then continue to simmer for 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil.
Now assemble the lasagna: preheat your oven to 350 F. Place the mozzarella, provolone, and pecorino in a bowl and fold them together. Ladle one-quarter of the sauce into the bottom of a very large lasagna pan, spreading it to all the corners.
Top with a layer of noodles, breaking to fit if necessary. Spread about one-quarter of the ricotta over the noodles, then about one-quarter of the mozzarella cheese mixture. Repeat, starting with the sauce, three more times, and finishing with the mozzarella mixture. Grind black pepper over the top of the lasagna. Cover with aluminum foil, then bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly and you can pierce the center of the lasagna easily with a paring knife, about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven to bake until the cheese starts to brown, about 5 more minutes. Remove the lasagna from the oven and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Slice and serve.