My father reminded me the other day that Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t have to be a whole bird. If your gathering is only few people, and you don’t want to have several weeks of turkey leftovers, there’s no need to roast a 15 lb gobbler. You could roast just a couple turkey legs if you like dark meat, or if you prefer white, stuff and roll a turkey breast. The following recipe is for just that, a turkey breast, pounded thin, spread with a stuffing of breadcrumbs, bacon, porcini, shallots and dried cranberries, and rolled up into a roulade and roasted.
Now, the only issue I see with cooking just the breast, is that you end up with scant drippings for gravy. If you like gravy as much a I do, I recommend adding a fatty turkey wing to the roasting pan, and using those drippings for your gravy.
Even if you end up not eating the skin, it's important to wrap it around the turkey roll for roasting. It will bathe the turkey in flavor and will keep the breast from drying out.
- 1 boneless turkey breast (about 2 lbs)
- Butter, olive oil, OR bacon fat
- 1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 thick slice of bacon*
- 1/4 cup minced shallot
- 2 Tbsp chopped dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon minced sage
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 3 Tbsp turkey or chicken stock (can sub water)
- 1 turkey wing (optional)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup turkey or chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
- Poultry seasoning
*If you don't eat bacon, you can skip, just use a generous tablespoon of butter instead, to sauté the shallots.
1 Place dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl. Cover with hot water and let sit for 15 minutes or so while the bacon in the next step is cooking. Once rehydrated, then chop.
2 Slowly cook the bacon in a medium frying pan on medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. Once cool enough to touch, chop. You should have at least a tablespoon of fat in the pan. (If not, add butter or olive oil to make up the difference.) Heat the same pan on medium (do not drain the fat rendered out of the bacon), add the minced shallots and cook until the shallots begin to brown. Add the chopped dried cranberries, minced sage and chopped mushrooms. Stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs, the parsley, chopped bacon, and the turkey or chicken stock and stir well. You want a rough paste, something that will stick to itself. Remove from the heat and allow the stuffing to cool.
3 To make the stuffed turkey breast, remove the skin from the turkey in one piece and reserve. Put the turkey breast between two pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap and gently pound with a mallet until it is about 1/4 inch thick. (It may be easier to butterfly the breast first, depending on how big the breast is.)
4 Trim the pounded breast until it is roughly a rectangle. Spread a thin layer of the stuffing over the breast, leaving about 3/4 inch border around all sides. Tightly roll the breast lengthwise. Lay the skin over the top of the rolled breast and tuck any under the edges.
5 Tie the rolled turkey breast tightly with kitchen string and set it on a roasting pan. Paint it with olive oil, or smear butter or bacon fat over it and sprinkle with salt. If you want more drippings for gravy, place pieces of a turkey wing on the roasting pan as well.
6 Roast at 400° for 20 minutes, then drop the heat to 325° and roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the breast reads about 155° on a meat thermometer.
7 Once the turkey reaches that temperature remove it from the roasting pan and tent it loosely with foil. Let it rest at least 10 minutes, and up to 25 minutes.
8 While the turkey breast is resting, if you want, you may be able to make a little gravy with the drippings. If you are only cooking the breast, and not the optional turkey wing as well, you may not have much to work with. But even a little bit of drippings can flavor a gravy. (If you really don't have much fat to work with, you can melt two tablespoons of butter into the roasting pan.) Take the roasting pan with drippings and place over two burners on the stove-top on medium (if using turkey wing, remove first). Sprinkle with flour and stir until the flour is incorporated into the drippings. Slowly add stock, whisking constantly, until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning or ground sage or thyme. Let simmer on the stove until thickened to your preference.