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Dena Marino's Thanksgiving Turkey with Crispy Prosciutto and Roasted Garlic

Chef Dena Marino moved to Miami from Colorado last summer to head the kitchen at DeVito South Beach. The job was short lived but Marino loved Miami so much she stayed. She's now working on another Miami project about which she can't reveal much because details aren't final yet. And that's okay, it's Thanksgiving we wanted to talk to her about.

Before moving, Marino ran D19 in Aspen, where she says she spent Thanksgivings with her staff. This year, however, her family is coming to Miami and Marino will for the first time cook with them.

"I brine my turkey all the time so I usually do that the day before. That's the only thing I do the day before. Everyone makes a full day of prepping and cooking, and I think me being in that environment every day, I don't want to take the whole day. Cooking the turkey takes a little longer but everyone thinks it takes so long and it really doesn't."

Staples on her Thanksgiving table are sweet

potatoes with "really burnt" marshmallows, biscuits and "really thick" gravy. Her turkey's skin is always stuffed with roasted garlic and prosciutto, and because she's Italian stuffing always has some sausage or pork in it.

Her advice to home cooks: "Don't overcook the turkey. [Laughs]. I think brining the turkey is the ultimate advice to keep it moist and let the skin get crispy. I use brown sugar, black peppercorns, salt, fennel seed, juniper and bay leaf. Turkey is good but it's a white meat that doesn't have much flavor unless you boost it up a bit, so it needs a little help."

Feeling overwhelmed? Fret not. Marino shared her Thanksgiving turkey recipe complete with a game plan leading up to the big dinner. It'll take a little work but we're sure it's worth tackling.

Thanksgiving Turkey with Crispy Prosciutto and Roasted Garlic
Chef Dena Marino

1 16-18 pound Young Turkey


1 1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Gallon Water
1 Tablespoon Whole Black Peppercorns
1 Tablespoon Juniper Berries
10 Bay Leaves
1 Teaspoon Whole Fennel Seed
1 Gallon Ice


1 1/2 Cup Extra virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Pound Unsalted Butter
4 Quarts Chicken Stock*
15 Slices Parma Prosciutto, Thinly Sliced
12 Large Cloves Fresh Garlic
1   Large, Peeled, Rough Chopped Onion
2   Peeled and Rough Chopped Carrots
2   Rough Chopped Celery Stalk

[*If not home made, Marino recommends buying Pacific Natural Foods stock available at Publix and Whole Foods.]

Two Days Before Thanksgiving: Brine

Place all the ingredients of the Brine except the ice in a large stockpot. Bring contents to a boil stirring occasionally until the Salt and Sugar dissolve. Place in the refrigerator overnight till chilled.

Night Before Thanksgiving: Brining

Gently use a skewer to pierce the raw turkey with small holes.

Place the brine and turkey (innards removed) with the ice in a 5-gallon bucket. Make sure the turkey is completely immersed and refrigerated for approximately 9 hours.

Halfway though brining process, turn the turkey around 180 degrees. After approximately 9 hours, rinse the turkey with cold water and discard the brine.

Thanksgiving Day: Ready To Cook

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

In a large roasting pan place the onions, carrots, celery in the bottom of the pan. Pour 2 quarts of the chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting pan. Set the turkey atop the vegetables.

Lift the skin gently from the turkey breast and around the legs. Insert the slices of Parma prosciutto underneath the skin. It will not be perfectly flat, but that's okay! Take the whole cloves of garlic and do the same. If you'd like, insert garlic into the holes made with the skewer.

Rub the butter all over the turkey and place a little in the cavity with a few of the vegetables from the bottom of the pan. Pour the extra virgin olive oil over the turkey and coat well.

Cover the turkey with aluminum foil tightly and place in the oven. Let the turkey cook for a half hour at the 500 degree temperature, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees.

Baste the turkey every half hour with the juice from the bottom of the roasting pan. The juice that will flow from the turkey while cooking will season your vegetables and stock to make your gravy!

The turkey must cook to a temperature of 160 to 165 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours.

Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest, covered at least 20 minutes before carving. This lets the meat rest and not be tough. It also will keep the juices inside the turkey.

While The Turkey Is Resting, Let's Make The Gravy

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Strain the vegetables from the chicken vegetable stock that's left in the roasting pan. Place the stock in a small sauce pan and add the remaining 2 quarts of chicken stock. Take the vegetables from the roasting pan and place in a blender or a Cuisinart and puree. Add the puree to the stock. Check seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.

Carving and Serving

Carve the turkey to your liking! Make sure everyone gets a piece of that soft roasted garlic. It tastes like butter, and that crispy Parma prosciutto, it's better than bacon!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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