Have Yourself a Very Italian Thanksgiving This Year

For an intimate fall feast, look to Tuscany for inspiration

Not to knock the the classic Norman Rockwell bird, but if you’re seeking a more intimate and refined Thanksgiving feast, consider this Old World-inspired spread. Our petite turketta is a riff on Tuscan porchetta—an epic whole roast pork loin wrapped in in its own fatty belly. The addition of butter, winter herbs, and smoked mozzarella keep the lean turkey juicy and flavorful and an outer layer of pancetta provides a festive and crispy exterior.

A suite of Tuscan-style sides complete the feast—focaccia rich with Italian olive oil is topped with crispy black kale; creamy garlic polenta replaces the typical potato mash; zesty mostarda stands in for the yankee cranberry standard; and seared bitter greens are tempered with sweet balsamic, dried fruit, and strips of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Simple, make-ahead butterscotch budino is an elegant and easy finish to this Italian autumn feast. Now all you need is a bottle (or case) of peppery Piemonte red.

Pancetta-Wrapped Roast Turkey Breast (Turketta)

Due to our collective memory of overcooked holiday birds, turkey breast has the unfortunate reputation of being boring and dry. Thankfully, when it is cooked off the bone and seasoned appropriately, it can in fact be extremely juicy and flavorful. Get the recipe for Pancetta-Wrapped Roast Turkey Breast (Turketta) »

Roasted Garlic Polenta “Mash” with Herbs and Mascarpone

Using a medium-coarsely ground cornmeal for this dish leaves some texture in the polenta while getting it as close to the consistency of soft, fluffy mashed potatoes as possible. (If using a more coarsely ground meal, increase both the cooking time and quantity of stock accordingly.) Get the recipe for Roasted Garlic Polenta “Mash” with Herbs and Mascarpone »

Seared Radicchio with Raisins and Shaved Parmigiano

This warm salad is made with a naturally sweet, high-quality balsamic vinegar to balance the bitterness of the leaves. If top-shelf balsamic vinegar di Modena is unavailable or out of your price range, cooking the grocery store version down by about one-third of its volume over a medium-low flame—and further sweetening it to taste with a drizzle of honey as needed—helps produce a similar level of sweetness.

Tuscan Kale and Red Pepper Focaccia

In addition to being baked on an olive oil-slathered pan, this focaccia dough is mixed with olive oil as well as creamy mashed potatoes, giving it a fluffy interior and crispy, oil-slicked edges. Kale and red pepper flakes add color and texture that make an otherwise simple bread a side dish in its own right. Get the recipe for Tuscan Kale and Red Pepper Focaccia »

Mostarda di Frutta (Spicy Mustard and Fruit Preserves)

Mostarda is not mustard. It is not sweet or acidic, not salty or spicy—at least, it’s none of those things alone. It is made mostly of fruit, but is neither jelly nor jam nor dessert. Get the recipe for Mostarda di Frutta (Spicy Mustard and Fruit Preserves)

Butterscotch Budino

This creamy caramel-like pudding has become a Los Angeles classic. Get the recipe for Butterscotch Budino »