For 4 persons
Some years ago, on our anniversary, Victor and I decided to revisit Sirmione, the peninsula at the southern tip of Lake Garda where, many winters before, we had had our brief honeymoon. Sirmione is a short morning's drive from Venice and we thought we would stop there for lunch. The excursion buses at the town's gate were a signal that the romantically deserted Sirmione of our youth no longer existed, and after a disconsolate walk past the souvenir stalls and down the main street lined with tourist trade shops, we decided to have our anniversary lunch elsewhere.
The lunch, at the Vecchia Lugana restaurant on the lakeshore just east of Sirmione, saved the day. It began with this turkey breast with pomegranate, an old Lombard recipe, served as an appetizer. It was beautiful to see, the vermilion of the pomegranate seeds studding the turkey's creamy flesh. But more wonderful yet was the taste. As each one of the crunchy seeds burst under one's teeth, it released a few drops of juice that was tart and sweet at once, mingling with bitefuls of the breast, injecting life into the mild flavor of the turkey.
1. Peel the carrot and wash both the carrot and celery stalk. Put the carrot, celery, and onion in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover the turkey later. Bring to a boil and cook at a moderate but steady pace for 15 minutes.
2. Add the turkey. Cook at a gentle boil for 30 minutes, and add salt. Cook for 10 minutes longer, then take off heat, letting turkey steep in its broth.
3. While the turkey is cooking, split open the pomegranates and pick out all the vermilion-colored seeds from the spongy pith that surrounds them. Use as many pomegranates as you need to make about 2/3 cup of seeds.
4. Pull off the ten largest leaves of the lettuce, wash them, and pat them thoroughly dry. Cut them into very thin strips. You should get about 6 cups. When ready to serve, spread the lettuce over a platter.
5. The turkey should still be warm, but if you have made it ahead and it is cold, warm it up gently in its broth. Drain (you can freeze the broth in cubes and use it on other occasions in soup or a risotto) and cut the turkey into very thin slices. Arrange the slices over the lettuce in the platter. Drizzle oil over them and squeeze on a little bit of lemon juice. If the half lemon is very juicy, do not use it all because you don't want to make the seasoning too acidic. Scatter the pomegranate seeds over the turkey and serve while still lukewarm.
The salad should be served warm, but you can cook the turkey several hours in advance, refrigerate in its broth, and reheat gently, but thoroughly just before composing the dish.
You can boil and drain the broccoli a few hours in advance, but do not refrigerate.
by Marcella Hazan
Photography by Alison Harris
HarperCollins Publishers; $35.00
480 pages; 1997
Reprinted with permission.
This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
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This page modified January 2007
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