Today I have an impressive showstopper of a recipe for your Thanksgiving turkey! Time to try something new. Turkey breast roulade makes beautiful slices of turkey and stuffing all swirled together, is easy to make ahead, and sidesteps the whole issue of trying to get the dark meat cooked without overcooking the light meat.
A little announcement and then I’ll get to talking about turkey roulades!
Friday morning my husband and I are getting on a plane and going to Napa with his family for a whirlwind tour of wine country! (While the daughter stays home with my parents.) I’ve been to Sonoma a couple of times, but we never managed to get Napa before. So I’m quite excited!
I’ve been sitting on the news since everyone was keeping it secret from my father-in-law. It’s his 80th birthday and everyone thought going to Napa would be the perfect gift. But he knows now and tomorrow I’ll be off. Don’t worry, though. I have posts all ready. 🙂
And while I’m talking about trips, I should mention that my husband’s family also decided that a week in Bonaire was what they needed for Christmas. So, we’ll be in Bonaire this holiday (all three of us along with all of my husband’s family who could make it) instead of making our usual trip to Vermont.
Okay, enough about trips. Time to talk turkey!
Before I became a food blogger I would get a craving for Thanksgiving dinner sometime in October. A dinner with all the fixings, made exactly to my tastes, and where I do all the work. (Yes, I like to cook. Why do you ask?? 🙂 ) And so I would make us a dinner with turkey – usually a turkey breast since there are only three of us – stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, the works.
Now that I am a food blogger, I still do that only these days I take pictures and I try new versions of my old favorites. Still exactly to my tastes, but not the same recipes.
Two years ago I didn’t feel equal to making a big main course and take pretty pictures, so I concentrated my favorite sausage stuffing and the best apple pie ever. Last year I brought out my grilled turkey with a no-drippings gravy, both of which are old favorites.
And this year I decided to try something completely new. This year I made turkey roulades and they are totally on my list of turkey recipes to make again.
The biggest issue I had here, and one I didn’t see anyone talking about, was where I do get boneless turkey breast? It doesn’t exist where I live! I couldn’t even order any. And, since I was making my turkey in October, the chances of finding a fresh, not frozen, turkey breast on the bone was rather unlikely.
But I was determined. I was going to try making a turkey breast roulade and see if I liked it and no lack of easy to use turkey breast was going to stop me.
Which is why I had a frozen turkey breast in my fridge for a few days as I waited for it to thaw. And why I spent time looking up what I’m supposed to do next. Happily, it turns to to be so easy to cut the breast off the bone. Slice down along the breastbone, cut along the bones of the turkey, and you’re done. It took me no more than 10 minutes to cut them off and get them into the brine. Boom…done.
And it was great, brining away. Until we lost power.
Yes, I had the turkey breast I had waited days to thaw and two racks of lamb in the fridge (along with everything else) and we had a big wind storm come through. Fun times.
Happily I have a smart husband who bought a generator after the time we lost power for about 3 days and had to throw out the entire contents of the fridge and freezer. So, come morning, we fired it up and kept everything happy until the electric company got to us. (Which wasn’t too bad. Around 14 hours total.)
Once we had our power back, I was back in business. Making sausage fig stuffing, turning turkey breast into roulades, and putting together a great white wine pan gravy. Making a first Thanksgiving dinner before Thanksgiving (which is just the way I like it), and this time I could take pretty pictures.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
My fig and sausage stuffed turkey breast roulade makes an impressive main course which is perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday dinner. And while it rests you can make a white wine gravy from the drippings!
- 1 whole turkey breast, both halves
- 4 cups water
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 5 large dried figs, about 1/2 cup chopped
- 1/3 cup brandy, or bourbon
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 slices sandwich bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 2-3 cups chicken or turkey stock
- 1 cup white wine
- 1-2 cups chicken or turkey stock
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
- kosher salt and pepper, to taste
If you can find boneless turkey breast in the store, certainly buy that. However, you will most likely need to buy a whole turkey breast on the bone (not a split turkey breast) and either have the butcher cut it off for you or do it yourself. To bone the turkey breast yourself, find the breast bone and begin cutting along one side of the bone until you have an incision goes the length of your turkey. Then begin cutting along the bone down away from the breast bone. Do the same on the other side. Remove the tenderloins (they will be hanging half off anyway) by lifting them up and slicing them off. Keep the skin attached.
Once you have your two turkey breasts, mix together the brine ingredients and let them brine overnight.
Remove the turkey breast from the brine, give it a rinse to remove excess salt, and pat it dry. Then place your turkey breast skin down with the pointy end facing you. Look at the sides of the turkey and see if one is a little thicker than the other. Begin cutting, parallel to the cutting board halfway through the thickness of the breast. Cut until you are about 1 inch from the other side and then open the turkey like a book. Cover the turkey breast with some plastic wrap and pound it to 1 inch thick.
In a small saucepan bring the figs, brandy, and water to a simmer over medium heat. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes and then take the figs off the heat and let them sit while you make the rest of the stuffing.
Preheat oven to 200F. Toast the bread cubes on a baking sheet until mostly dry and just beginning to brown, 15-20 minutes.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the onions and pinch of salt and saute until they are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, breaking it up with the side of a spoon and saute until the sausage is cooked through and broken up into small pieces, about 10 minutes.
Cut the figs into a 1/4 inch dice. Add the figs, their liquid, the sage, and rosemary to the sausage mixture. Saute for another 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and sausage stuffing. Add 1/2 cup of stock to the stuffing and stir. If it's still a little dry, add another 1/4 cup of stock. Stuffing can be prepared ahead and kept in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Lay out both of the turkey breasts skin side down on your board. Divide the stuffing between them, spreading it out into an even layer and keeping a 1 inch border around the edges.
Firmly roll up the turkey breast, tucking any escaped stuffing back in as you roll to make an even cylinder with the skin on the outside. Tie the roulade with kitchen twine every 2 inches.
Place a rack in your roasting pan and put the roulades on the rack seam side down. Roast for 20 minutes. At 20 minutes add 1 cup of chicken stock and roast for another 20 minutes. Check the stock and add another cup if you need to and continue roasting for 20 minutes. At this point you will have roasted the roulades for 1 hour. Check the temperature with your thermometer and roast the roulades until they reach 155-160F in the center. Depending on the size, this can take another 10-20 minutes.
Transfer the roulades to a cutting board and let them rest for 20 minutes. Once they are done resting, remove the twine and carefully cut them into 1/2 inch slices.
While the roulades are resting, make the gravy.
Put your roasting pan over your largest burner and bring the drippings to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour in the white wine and another cup of stock and stir to loosen the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer the drippings for 2 minutes.
Mix together the corn starch and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock. With your whisk at the ready, add corn starch slurry by the tablespoon and whisk it into the hot drippings. If it gets too thick, add a little more stock until you are happy with the amount and thickness of the gravy.
Serve the roulades with the gravy.
- Deboning the turkey breast: This is not something I'm practiced at, and it turned out to be quite simple. Just cut along the bone. Make sure you have a long thin knife, go slowly the first time you do it and, while removing the tenderloins is optional, doing so makes the rest of the recipe go much easier. (Save the tenderloins for another recipe.) Here is a photoset to help you visualize.
- Not sure how to tie a roast? Here is a tutorial.
- Making the gravy: Turkey roulades are very low in fat, so I don't separate the drippings and instead go straight to making the gravy. Also, gravy making is best when you look at how much liquid you have and how thick you like it and add stock and thickener to your taste.
- Cutting the roulades: This can be a tricky process to cut them and have perfect circles. Resting helps a lot; however, if you want no stress about cutting, it is actually best to make the roulades ahead of time, chill them in the fridge until completely cool, cut them into slices, and then warm them in the oven briefly.
- Menu: Try these turkey roulades with Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce with Port and Oranges, and Green Bean and Almond Salad.