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Turkey Roulade

Maybe you’re “turkeyed-out” after the Thanksgiving holiday, but not me. I didn’t have the traditional bird on the big day. Instead, I was tempted by too many other offerings at Commander’s Palace, a landmark restaurant in New Orleans. My husband and I spent a few days in New Orleans during the holiday week, visiting relatives and expanding our waistlines. (Those of you who follow me on Instagram saw photos of lots of the food we ate, plus the wacky hats and costumes people wore at the racetrack on turkey day).  We ate so many delicious meals at so many wonderful restaurants each day, recommended by my husband’s son and wife, who moved there from New York a couple of years ago.

As much as I love dining out, I also missed the smells and tastes of a good old-fashioned turkey dinner. So after returning home, I restocked at the grocery store yesterday and made a scaled-down version of a Thanksgiving meal for the two of us last night. Instead of a full turkey, I bought a boneless turkey breast and stuffed it with a sausage/dried cherry/pecan stuffing. It was a lot easier to prepare than you’d think (and way easier than cooking a whole turkey) and would make a great meal for company around the Christmas holiday too.

Start out by preparing the stuffing. I used a mixture of bread cubes, cooked and crumbled Italian sausage, dried cherries soaked in rum, toasted pecans, eggs, plus some fresh herbs and spices. If you don’t like dried cherries, use whatever dried fruit you like – cranberries, apricots, or figs for instance.) Don’t like pecans? Then use walnuts, pine nuts or hazelnuts instead.

This is the turkey breast I bought. It was about 1 1/2 pounds and when stuffed, could easily serve four people (maybe five, depending on appetites). Make sure you buy a breast with the skin still attached.

Here’s what it looks like when you flip it around. Obviously, it’s too thick to stuff this, so you have to do a little prep work. It’ll take you only five minutes to complete.

Slice the breast parallel to the counter surface, so that the meat opens like a book. It’s still too thick at this point, so use a mallet (first cover the meat with plastic wrap) and pound it flatter.

This is how mine looked after pounding, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Be mindful that the skin that was on the meat before you started pounding it, will now be on only a small part of the meat after you’ve pounded it. Here you can see it sticking out at the bottom of the meat. So when you start rolling it up, start from the side that doesn’t have the skin.

Spread the filling around the surface and dot with a little bit of butter.

Roll it up, starting with the length of meat that doesn’t have any skin attached to it. You’ll want the skin to end up on the outside, so if you started with rolling up where the skin is, you’ll have the skin inside the meat, which you don’t want. I hope that’s not too confusing.

See, the skin is right where it should be when you flip it over.

Tie it up well with butcher’s string so that it stays together when roasting.

Then season with with salt, pepper, paprika, some thyme and rosemary (the fresh herbs actually burned midway through the roasting, so I’m not sure I’d do that again). Scatter some onions all around, then pour in some white wine (I would have added some chicken broth too, but I didn’t have any). Drizzle some olive oil over the onions and the meat and roast at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 150 degrees. Actually, when the thermometer reads 140-145 degrees, take it out, since it needs to rest about ten minutes and the temperature will continue to rise a bit when it’s resting.

Remove the twine and slice.

Enjoy! Happy Belated Thanksgiving. Hope you had a wonderful time with family and friends.

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

Turkey Roulade
 
Author:
Serves: serves 4-5
 
A boneless turkey breast, rolled and stuffed with sausage, pecans and dried cherries.
Ingredients
  • 1 boneless turkey breast, with skin on (about 1½ pounds)
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • rum, to cover the cherries
  • ½ cup toasted pecans
  • 1 link of Italian sausage
  • about ½ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups bread cubes
  • about 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • salt, pepper
  • fresh sage and parsley, minced
  • 2 onions, cut in large chunks
  • olive oil to drizzle
  • 1 cup white wine, or chicken broth, or a combination of the two
Instructions
  1. Start by soaking the dried cherries in rum.
  2. Melt one tablespoon butter in a sauce pan and add the onions and celery.
  3. Sauté until wilted, then add the sausage and crumble with a spoon.
  4. When sausage is fully cooked, add it and the onions to a bowl.
  5. Drain the cherries from the rum and discard the liquid.
  6. To the bowl with the sausage, onions and celery, add the cherries, the bread cubes, the eggs, the toasted pecans and seasonings.
  7. Melt the remaining butter and add to the bowl and mix well.
  8. Slice the turkey breast open like a "book."
  9. Using a mallet, pound it flatter, using plastic wrap to protect the meat.
  10. Spread the stuffing over the meat , adding a couple of pats of butter.
  11. Roll up the meat, making sure you end up with the skin on the outside.
  12. Tied it with butcher's string to hold everything in place.
  13. Place in a roasting pan and roast at 400 degrees for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a thermometer reads about 140 - 145 degrees.
  14. The temperature will continue to rise for a short while and should reach 150 degrees.
  15. Let the meat rest, covered with aluminum foil, for at least ten minutes.
  16. Slice and serve.
 

 

Gjelina’s roasted yams

 
 I know it’s nearly heresy to mess with family favorites at Thanksgiving. But if you crave something a little different from the traditional mashed potatoes or candied sweet potatoes, this recipe from “Gjelina:Cooking From Venice, California,” might hit just the right note. Even if you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it for an ordinary Thursday night (or any other night of the week).
It’s a snap to make, starting out with roasting some chunky slices of yams, tossed in olive oil, honey and espelette, or red pepper flakes.
 When they emerge from the oven, drizzle with the yogurt and lime dressing, and top with fresh green scallions.
And if you’re looking for a way to brine and roast that Thanksgiving turkey, click here for instructions.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Gjelina's roasted yams
 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 large yams
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon espelette pepper, or crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup Greek style yogurt
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 scallions, both white and green parts, trimmed and thinly sliced, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425. Cut the yams lengthwise into 4 wedges per yam. Put them in a large bowl, and toss them with the honey, ½ tablespoon of the Espelette pepper or crushed red-pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, tossing once or twice to coat, as the oven heats.
  2. Transfer the yams to a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and then bake until they are deeply caramelized around the edges and soft when pierced with a fork at their thickest part, approximately 30 to 35 minutes.
  3. As the yams roast, combine the yogurt, lime juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl, and whisk to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  4. When the yams are done, transfer them to a serving platter, drizzle the yogurt over them and garnish with the remaining Espelette pepper or red-pepper flakes, the scallions and some flaky sea salt if you have any.

Brining and Roasting a Turkey

This is a blog post from five years ago, but with Thanksgiving on Thursday, many of you might need a refresher on how to brine and roast a turkey:
It’s almost that time folks. Are you ready to roast that big bird or are you running from the task quicker than you can say turkey trot?  To all of you with trepidation in your soul at the thought of tackling this job, fear not — I have one word to help you achieve success — and it rhymes with fine. No, it’s not wine — although a glass of chardonnay or pinot noir for the cook never hurts. The word folks is brine. Since the first time I brined a turkey years ago, I have never looked back. It’s a fail-proof way to ensure a moist, flavorful turkey, even if you forget to baste it and even if you roast it a little longer than required.
Mix salt, sugar, herbs and spices with water and bring to a boil.
Dump the brining mixture over the turkey and add ice cubes (unless you have a refrigerator large enough to contain the large bucket). Let it sit overnight.
Roast the turkey over a bed of celery, carrots and onions and with some whole heads of garlic strewn all around the pan. Baste occasionally.
I leave the carving to my dad, but it’s the same way you would carve a chicken. Remove the legs, thighs and wings, then remove each half of the breast in its entirety from the carcass.
Cut the breast in slices and place all the meat on a serving platter surrounded with the whole roasted heads of garlic.
gobble, gobble!
Turkey Brine
(Makes enough for up to a 24 lb. turkey)
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 gallon water
2 T. black peppercorns
1 T. allspice berries
1 onion, sliced
1 large bunch sage
6 bay leaves
ice cubes
The day before (or night before) you want to cook the turkey:
Using a 5-gallon bucket, line it with a plastic bag. Put the salt, sugar, onion, herbs and spices in a pot on the range with only two cups of water taken from the one gallon of water called for in the recipe. Bring to a boil and stir everything to blend the flavors. Remove from the heat and add some ice cubes to cool it off, plus about half of the remaining water. Put the thawed turkey in the plastic bag in the bucket and add the water and herb mixture. If the bucket needs more water to cover the turkey, add it now.
Since I can’t fit the bucket into my refrigerator, I always place it outdoors on the deck, adding ice cubes to the water to make sure it stays cool. It’s never been a problem here in New Jersey in late November, and sometimes it’s gotten so cold that the top layer of water has frozen.  I don’t want to take any risks though, so I always add the ice cubes. Twist the top of the bag and secure it closed. To keep squirrels or birds from pecking into the bag during the night or before it goes into the oven, place a flat baking pan on the top and weigh it down with something heavy. Let it sit overnight and soak.
The next day, drain the turkey from the liquid before roasting.  Pat dry, then place your hand between the skin and the breast meat and spread some butter inside with some sage leaves. Alternately, make an herb butter, mixing some softened butter with minced sage, rosemary or other herbs.
Roasting Method
 
After rubbing butter between the skin and the breast meat, place the turkey in a pan that has a bed of celery sticks, carrots and onion chunks. Take several whole heads of garlic and slice a shallow slice off the top. Spread them in the corners of the pan. If you’re not stuffing the turkey, place some onion chunks, fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme or a combo) and a couple of lemons that have been halved, in the cavity. Rub the outer skin with a stick of butter that’s been softened. Roast turkey according to timetable below, basting occasionally. If the breast starts to get overly browned, make a tent with aluminum foil and cover loosely. If wings get overly browned and the rest of the turkey still needs cooking, wrap the wings in aluminum foil. The total roasting time will depend on whether the turkey is stuffed or not.
Here are the roasting times recommended by the USDA. If you’re checking with a meat thermometer, the USDA says the turkey is safely cooked once the thickest part of the breast and thigh reach a minimal internal temperature of 165 degrees. Full roasting instructions from the USDA are here.

Timetables for Turkey Roasting
(325 °F oven temperature)

Unstuffed
4 to 8 pounds (breast) 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours
Stuffed
4 to 6 pounds (breast) Not usually applicable
6 to 8 pounds (breast) 2½ to 3½ hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4¾ to 5¼ hours

 

Turkey Quesadillas

Turkey quesadillas

So you’ve had your fill of turkey sandwiches by now. But you’ve still got plenty of meat leftover from Thanksgiving and can’t face another plate of microwaved turkey and reheated gravy. Time to switch gears with a whole different flavor palate. Think Tex-Mex. Think quesadillas. This is so simple to prepare there’s really no recipe.
It’s simply a matter of assembly.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
flour tortillas
leftover turkey meat
onions
bell peppers (any color)
cheese (cheddar or monterey jack)
salsa (I made my own by mincing together fresh tomatoes, onion, green pepper, jalapeno and cilantro, then adding some salt and lime juice. You can always buy a good commercial brand.)

Slice the onions and peppers and fry in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil until cooked through. Then begin the assembly. There are no measurements because you can use more or less of any ingredient to your pleasing. Place one tortilla on a plate. Cover with grated cheese, strips of turkey meat, some of the onions and peppers, and a few tablespoons of the salsa. Place another tortilla on top of the mixture.

If you have a grill with ridges, oil the surface and place it on your stove burners over medium heat. If you don’t have a grill, use a cast-iron skillet or heavy steel pan. When the grill or skillet is hot, place the tortilla on top and put a heavy press on top. If you don’t have a press, just push down a little with a spatula. Cook for a couple of minutes until the cheese melts and grill marks begin to show. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn. Turn over and grill for a few minutes on other side.


This is what it looks like after all the ingredients are in place and just before you’re ready to cover with a second tortilla.