by Tina Swithin, Travel Paso Robles Alliance

Paso Robles comes to life in October during wine harvest and olive harvest follows closely behind in November. This is truly a magical season to be in Paso Robles! I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Frank Mercurio, founder of We Olive. Frank filled me in on a time-honored tradition in the olive world which is known as Olio Nuovo-it goes back hundreds of years. Olio Nuovo means "new oil" in Italian-it is fresh extra virgin olive oil made from the first press of the season. This fresh oil is a delight for the senses and typically has a pungent and peppery flavor. It's truly delicious.

Turkey We OliveI was so intrigued by the history of Olio Nuovo that I decided to dedicate this month's Pairings in Paso to a delicious Turkey recipe that was given to me by Frank and Ruth Mercurio of We Olive. "The Extra Virgin olive oil adds a depth and dimension to the turkey and it is always moist and flavorful", explains Ruth. I know that this recipe will be finding its way to my Thanksgiving Day table-hopefully yours, too.

For this pairing, I decided to go with the Windward Vineyards 2008 Monopole Pinot Noir which I recently stumbled upon. It's a wonderfully fruit forward, balanced wine with a strawberry nose, a velvety mouth-feel and a finish that opens and spreads forever. It will compliment this dish very nicely and I plan to have a glass in hand at 3pm on Thanksgiving Day (it'll be 5pm somewhere!)

We Olive's Olio Nuovo Thanksgiving Turkey

16 to 18 lb. natural or organic turkey that has been brined following the Cook's Illustrated brining method.
¾ cup We Olive's Olio Nuovo extra virgin olive oil. (We Olive's Arbequina, Mission or Tuscan blend extra virgin olive oil can be substituted if needed).
1 stick (1/4 cup) of butter, cut into eight tablespoons.
Kosher salt
5 peeled garlic cloves
1 small yellow onion, quartered
1 small orange, quartered
A "mix and match" handful of herbs of your choice; parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, etc.
3 tablespoons + ½ cup of We Olive's Olio Nuovo extra virgin olive oil.

Remove turkey from the brined solution and rinse. Pat dry. Be sure to pat dry the cavity, too. Tuck the wings of the turkey behind its back. You may have to break the joint in order to tuck the wing. Doing this will ensure that the wings do not burn during roasting. Generously sprinkle the cavity of the turkey with kosher salt. Loosen the turkey skin from the breast by placing your hand in between the skin and the breast, gently lifting the skin away. Try to loosen the skin as far down as you can go, to the thigh and over the drumstick.

Place one (tablespoon) square of butter in between the skin and the meat of the turkey in the following places: each drumstick area, each thigh area, and each breast. Place the remaining two squares of butter in the turkey cavity. Take the ¾ cups of We Olive's Olio Nuovo extra virgin olive oil and pour it in ¼ cup increments in between the skin and meat on both sides of the breast and ¼ cup into the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the garlic cloves, onion, orange and herbs. Tie the legs. Take the 3 tablespoons of We Olive's Olio Nuovo extra virgin olive oil and rub it over the outside of the turkey. Place the turkey on a roasting pan with a rack.

Roasting the Turkey:
Place the turkey in pre-heated 450 degree oven. Roast for the first ½ hour at 450 degrees and then drop the oven temperature down to 350 degrees for remaining roasting time. At this time, baste the turkey with We Olive's Olio Nuovo extra virgin olive oil. Baste every 45 minutes after that using the remaining olive oil or the pan drippings. Total roasting time will take 2 ½ to 3 hours. Remove turkey from the oven when an instant read thermometer placed in the mid thigh area reaches 165 degrees. In order to get an accurate reading, be sure the thermometer does not touch the turkey bone. Loosely cover the turkey with foil (to prevent poachers) and let rest for 45 minutes before carving.

Tina Swithin is the Blog Manager for where she writes Pairings in Paso and other blog-a-licious Paso Robles articles. Follow the Paso Robles Insider to get the inside scoop on all the haps in Paso Robles Wine Country.