Bittered Sling's brined turchetta with pumpkin seed salsa verde

Moist roasted turkey meat inside pork belly with Cascade Celery Bitters and pumpkin seed salsa verde 

Photo by Issha Marie.
Photo by Issha Marie.

We all know turkey breasts can be dry, so what better way to keep them moist than to roll it up with pork belly? Jonathan Chovancek, co-Proprietor, of Bittered Sling Extracts and executive chef of Café Medina came up with this recipe for "turchetta" with a pumpkin seed salsa verde using Bittered Sling bitters.

Turkey brine

2 L water
1/2 cup sea salt
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup Bittered Sling Kensington Dry Aromatic Bitters
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup curly parsley, leave and stems
6 green onions, split lengthwise
6 sprigs thyme

Three days ahead of serving, make the turkey brine. Heat the water with the salt and sugar and bring to a simmer. Whisk to dissolve and remove from the heat. Add the remaining ingredients and allow to cool. Strain out the ingredients and discard. Keep the brine in a sealed container in the refrigerator.


1 5-kg turkey, bone in, skin on
1 3-kg fresh pork belly, skin on, hairs removed
salt, to taste
2 tbsp Bittered Sling Orange & Juniper Extract
2 tbsp Bittered Sling Cascade Celery bitters
1 cup finely minced green onions
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tbsp finely minced ginger
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, chopped fine
4 tbsp toasted fennel seeds, crushed
4 tbsp finely chopped thyme
4 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp hot red pepper flakes, crushed
4 tsp ground black pepper
4 tsp sunflower seed oil

Remove the bones and the skin from the turkey. Keep the drumsticks for roasting and serve them on the side. Use the bones, wings and neck for the stock; if you don’t feel like doing the knife work, ask your butcher to do it for you. Remember to keep the skin. 

With a meat hammer, lightly pound out the legs so they are 1 cm thick. Open up the breast meat with a knife and pound to 1 cm thickness. Place the turkey meat and skin into the brine and refrigerate for 30 minutes. After brining, rinse the turkey and skin under cold water and discard the brine. 

While the turkey is having its luxurious brine-bath, prepare the pork belly. Use a small paring knife and working at a 45º angle, lightly score the skin in parallel lines, 2cm apart, across the length of the skin. 

Flip the belly over and repeat the scoring on the flesh side. Season the flesh aggressively with sea salt.

In a separate bowl, combine bitters, vegetables, seeds, herbs, spice and oil to make the salsa verde. 

Spread half the salsa verde evenly over the belly, leaving a 1 cm boarder at the edges free of salsa. 

Place the dry, brined turkey meat across the center of the belly, lengthwise, on top of the salsa verde. Alternate between white and dark meat. 

Roll the belly around the turkey so that the ends of the belly connect. Secure tightly with butcher's twine at 2 cm intervals. Place the "turchetta" on a wire roasting rack topped baking sheet and refrigerate for 24 hours uncovered. Keep the skin dry. 

To make the turkey crackling, preheat the over to 325 F. Remove any excess fat or meat from the turkey skin and lay the skin flat on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place another sheet of parchment overtop and press with a matching sheet pan. Blind bake until the skin is dark golden, about 40 minutes. Pat excess fat off with a paper towel and store in an airtight container. 

To cook the turchetta, preheat oven to 225 F. Remove turchetta from the fridge and rub the skin with salt and pepper. Roast 6 for hours, or until turchetta reaches an internal temperature of 164ºF. Remove from the oven and turn oven up to 500ºF.

Open all windows and doors and place the turchetta back in the oven for another 10 minutes, to crisp and puff up the crackling. Be careful of the smoke from the pork skin.

Let the turchetta rest for 1 hour before carving into thin slices. 



12 servings