Thanksgiving from the Veneto: Turkey, Pomegranate Sauce & Valpolicella

#WinePW Wine Pairing Weekend Thanksgiving Edition
November is here! And that means it’s time to start thinking about the turkey and other Thanksgiving dinner fixings. Our challenge this month is to find a creative wine & food pairing to use at Thanksgiving.   If you see this early enough, please join us November 8th at 10 a.m. Central Time. We’ll be chatting on twitter at #WinePW about our tips and tricks for the best Thanksgiving wine pairings. We’d love to have you join us!

Add a little Veneto (Northern Italy) to Your Thanksgiving: Tacchinella Arrostita al Melograno e Valpolicella (Roast Turkey with Pomegranate Sauce and Valpolicella)
Fall in the Veneto region of Italy means Turkey and Pomegranate.  Just when the new wines are all in the fermenters, Italians know it’s time to harvest the pomegranates and serve up a young turkey. Want to introduce something new to your Thanksgiving dinner? Try this new preparation for the main dish.  All your normal side dishes can stay, just try this approach to the turkey and the gravy.  And wine?  Try a wine from the Veneto as well.

Pomegranate forms the basis of the sauce and the bright color to the dish

Pomegranate forms the basis of the sauce and the bright color to the dish

Wine Pairing: What grows together goes together – Resounding Yes…. and No
One of the cliches of wine pairing is: “what grows together goes together”.  With this in mind, we decided to test Veneto classic wines Valpolicella and Soave at our Thanksgiving Preview table.  Know what? The Valpolicella showed us the truth of the saying, and the Soave showed us it doesn’t always work.

How’s that? The Valpolicella has a deep fruit character with a sense of evergreen.  Somehow, it’s reflected perfectly in the intensely flavored reduction sauce from the turkey drippings and pomegranate juice.  The bright pomegranate seeds bring out the cherry notes in the red wine.

I was surprised that the Soave actually clashed with the sauce. The lean mineral flavor of the Soave interferes with the deep flavors in the pomegranate sauce with the turkey and the wine picks up a metallic flavor.  We’ve enjoyed this wine on a number of other occasions, it just wasn’t a great choice here.  Sometimes the misses are as important as the hits!

What grows together goes together?  Yes and no.

What grows together goes together? Yes and no.

Azienda Tommasi Viticoltori Vapolicella Classico Superiore “Rafaèl” 2012 (Surdyk’s $13)
Eye: Deep garnet but still translucent to the center.
Nose: Sour cherry, woody evergreen
Mouth: Dry, medium tannins but smooth, not in your face.  Nice acidity, and nice long cherry finish.

Tommasi Valpolicella Classico Superiore "Rafaèl" 2012

Tommasi Valpolicella Classico Superiore “Rafaèl” 2012

Azienda Agricola Nardello Daniele Soave Classico 2012 (South Lyndale Wine Shop $13)
Eye: Clear, light yellow
Nose: Pears and almonds with a touch of almond bitterness.
Mouth: Medium texture, nearly tart acidity.

Nardello Soave Classico "Meridies" 2012 (South Lyndale Liquors $13)

Nardello Soave Classico “Meridies” 2012 (South Lyndale Liquors $13)

The Valpolicella was the clear winner and a perfect match

The Valpolicella was the clear winner and a perfect match

Creative Thanksgiving-Inspired Dishes and Wine Pairings
Here are the ideas available from our group for you to try.

Mains
Turkey, Tempranillo and Sweet Potatoes by Cooking Chat
Thanksgiving from the Veneto: Turkey, Pomegranate Sauce & Valpolicella by foodwineclick
Norwegian Meatballs by Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Shepherds Pie Casserole with Barnard Griffin Syrah Port by Wild 4 Washington Wine
Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding and Donkey & Goat Stone Crusher by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog

Sides
Purple Sweet Potato Soup with Roasted Lobster + Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Arugula Pear Salad paired with Torrontes from Argentina by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Layered Sweet Potato and Apple Bake with Cranberry Blush by Curious Cuisiniere

Desserts
Walnut Tart with Sparkling Brachetto d’Acqui by Vino Travels — An Italian Wine Blog
Can we skip to dessert? by Pull That Cork

Don’t Forget Leftovers!
Day After Turkey and Seafood Gumbo by It’s Ok To Eat The Cupcake
Turkey Pot Pie and Boedecker Cellars Chardonnay by Tasting Pour

Don’t forget to our Twitter chat today, November 8th at 11 a.m. Eastern Time! We’ll be talking about our tips and tricks for the best Thanksgiving wine pairings. We’d love to have you join us!

And, be sure to mark your calendars for December’s Wine Pairing Weekend, hosted by Jeff of foodwineclick. Just in time for Holiday parties, we’ll be sharing sparkling wine and hors d’oeuvre pairings. Join in the #WinePW 7 conversation on Saturday Dec. 13!

We hope you enjoyed checking out some new ideas for Thanksgiving foods and wine.  Be sure to mark your calendars for December’s Wine Pairing Weekend, I’ll be hosting. Just in time for Holiday parties, we’ll be sharing sparkling wine and hors d’oeuvre pairings. Join in the #WinePW 7 conversation on Saturday Dec. 13!

On to the Recipe

Pomegranate Challenges
Pomegranates are definitely the star of this recipe, but the traditional method of extracting the seeds is a total pain.  There’s a better way!

Pomegranate is the star of this recipe

Pomegranate is the star of this recipe

Whack a Pomegranate

If you’re cooking a turkey, you may want to use Julia Della Croce’s original recipe. The recipe is from her book on the Veneto which would be a great addition to your cookbook library.  For our preview, I adapted the recipe for chicken, which makes it great for use whenever you feel like roasting a chicken for your family.

Roast Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce

In Italian: “Pollo arrosto con salsa di melograno

Note that in this preview, we roasted a chicken, which works great too!  Also, Italian turkeys are small by American standards, you can scale up the ingredients as appropriate for your Turkey Day Feast.

Perfect wine pairing: Valpolicella Classico Superiore

Ingredients

  • 1 Roasting Chicken (3-4 lbs.)winePW_turkey_veneto_valpolicella_20141102_122
  • cotton kitchen twine
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bunches of fresh sage leaves
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 3 cups bottled pomegranate juice (try to find 100% pomegranate juice and not a blend)
  • 1 pomegranate
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350° F
  • Melt the butter and mix with the olive oil
  • Slip your fingers between the skin and the breast and legs of the turkey
  • Slip individual sage leaves between the skin and the bird
  • Stuff the cavity with the remaining sage leaves and the onions.
  • Tie the legs together and truss the bird with the twine
  • Brush the butter/oil mixture on the outside of the bird, salt and pepper the outside of the bird
  • Scatter the leftover onions on the bottom of the roasting pan, place a rack in the pan
  • Place the turkey on the rack, breast side down
  • Put the bird in the oven
  • Put the pomegranate juice in a saucepan and simmer just below boiling, reduce by about 1/2
  • Turn the bird every 30 minutes.  If your rack allows the bird to be placed on its side, turn 1/4 turn.  If not, turn 1/2 turn. Baste the bird with the pan juices every time you turn it.
  • About half-way through cooking, pour 1/2 of the reduced pomegranate juice into the bottom of the roasting pan and continue to baste the bird.
  • Roast the turkey until a thermometer in the center of the thigh reads 160° F, about 2 hours for an 4 lb. bird.
  • Remove from the oven, cover with foil to rest.
  • Pour off the juices from the roasting pan, use a bulb baster to extract the juices and leave the fat behind.  Add the pan juices to the remaining pomegranate juice in the saucepan, heat, correct the seasoning with salt & pepper.  This will leave you with an intensely flavored sauce to use instead of gravy.  The volume is less but the flavor is very intense.
  • For a healthier preparation, we always remove the skin before serving, top with the pomegranate sauce and fresh pomegranate seeds.  Enjoy!

 

Comments
31 Responses to “Thanksgiving from the Veneto: Turkey, Pomegranate Sauce & Valpolicella”
  1. Lynda says:

    Jeff, I love the reflection of the trees of your backyard in the photo of the Soave. You are a man of so many talents!

  2. Wow, beautiful recipe…beautiful, descriptive write up on the pairings….I feel like maybe I am out of my league with this group LOL

  3. Your photos are always interesting, but I particularly loved the ones in this post! A great one to get everyone in the holiday spirit.

  4. Beautiful recipe with gorgeous photos!

  5. Gorgeous post, photos and recipe! Now I need to order another book and try to sneak it into the house.

    I enjoyed reading about your pairing and how the Soave didn’t work. Wine is one of the most fascinating subjects. It is so interesting how food and wine pairings can make or break each other.

    Have a great weekend!

  6. I can very much see that being a beautiful additon to the turkey with the pomegranates and Valpolicella. Nice post!

  7. Did someone say Valpolicella? Now you are talking my language. Great looking dish and wine pairings. Sorry to miss this month’s fun; won’t miss December! Cheers!

  8. I really like how you compared the wines ~ so interesting! Your post is beautiful.

  9. Jade Helm says:

    Love the Italian tie in, the pomegranate sauce is such a fun alternative to traditional cranberry. Also, will you come to my house and photograph my food?

  10. Wow! Great looking dish. My wife and I have neighbors behind us with a pomegranate tree, but by the beginning of November they were all gone. Must be a California thing. Appreciate the video about how to access a pomegranate. Both those wines from Veneto sound great. I must drink more Italian wine!

  11. Creative! Love the sound of the pomegranate sauce. Surprised the Soave didn’t work too, sounds like a nice Valpolicella though.

  12. Have never thought of pomegranate with turkey. Love the idea. Happy you tried a white and a red. White does not always go with bird. Also love your photos like everyone. What kind of lights are you using? I need better lighting this time of year. Well done Italian food/wine pairing.

    • Thanks for your kind words! I use a pair of Lowel Ego lights. You can find them on Amazon for around $200 per pair. I also generously use white foamcore as reflector material. In Minnesota this time of year, we need artificial lights!

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