Legendary Dishes | Gjel Deti me Përshesh (turkey cock with bread mash)

Përshesh — bread mash with turkey

ALBANIA 

A traditional dish of Elbasan, this festive feast has been gradually assuming a new identity during its migration around the country and beyond. Chicken is now preferred to turkey, and the përshesh (traditionally made with stale bread crumbled into the cooking juice from the roasted turkey with its meat plus herbs and spices) is now made with corn bread, wheat bread and an assortment of ingredients. These include apples, chestnuts, walnuts and damsons (or plums).

Roast – 1

  • 4 kg turkey plus offal
  • 500 ml water, for basting
  • 120 g leek
  • 120 g onion, chopped
  • 45 g butter
  • 10 g fresh mint
  • Seasonings

Preheat oven to 200°C. Smear the turkey with butter, season and place on a rack in a tray. Add the leeks, mint and onions, then cover the bottom of the tray with water.  Bake for four hours, basting every half an hour after the first hour, adding more water if necessary.

Roast – 2

As the purpose of this dish is the creation of turkey juices, it can also be made with a turkey drumstick, which are usually around one kilo in weight. The juices from the drumstick will not have the same depth of flavour as the juices from a whole turkey, so we have increased the amount of leeks and onions, and seasonings and replaced the fresh mint with dried mint.

  • 1 kg turkey drumstick
  • 500 ml water, for basting
  • 400 g leeks, sliced
  • 200 g onions, chopped
  • 45 g butter
  • 15 g mixed peppercorns, ground
  • 10 g green pepper, ground
  • 10 g salt
  • 1 tbsp dried mint

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the leeks, mint and onions in a baking tray. Smear the turkey with butter, season and place on top of the leek-onion-mint mixture, cover with water.

Bake for two hours, basting every half an hour, adding more water if necessary.

Roast turkey drumstick with leeks and onions for përshesh

Dough

  • 1 kg strong white wheat flour 
  • 500 ml turkey juices
  • 45 ml + 15 ml olive oil
  • 25 g yeast

Mix the yeast with the oil and two tablespoons of the reheated turkey juices. Pour the juices into the flour, form into a loose dough, leave to stand for ten minutes. Add the yeast mixture, knead for five minutes, leave to rise for an hour.

Grease a rectangular tray with oil, place the dough on the tray and press into the corners.

Bake for 25 minutes at 180°C until the surface starts to take on some colour.

White wheat bread for përshesh (bread mash)

Përshesh (bread mash with turkey pieces, nuts, herbs, spices, seasonings)

  • 1 kg leek / onion, chopped small
  • 1 litre turkey juice, hot
  • 1 kg turkey pieces, chopped small
  • 750 g bread, crumbed
  • 250 g chestnuts, boiled, peeled, chopped small (optional)
  • 90 g butter / 30 ml olive oil
  • 50 g walnuts, crushed (optional)
  • 30 g dried mint
  • 1 tbsp marjoram / oregano (optional)
  • 10 g salt
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g paprika (optional)

Melt butter or olive oil in a deep frying pan, sauté the onion. Pour the turkey juices into the pan, bring to a low boil, add choice of bread, herbs, spices and seasonings, stir until the bread has thickened the sauce. Stir in the pieces of turkey, cover, reduce heat and allow the flavours to mingle.

Alternatively combine the bread and juices with the nuts, onions, herbs, spices and seasonings, thicken into a mash. Serve with the turkey.

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