My father reminded me the other day that Thanksgiving turkey doesn't have to be a whole bird. If your gathering is only a few people, and you don't want to have several weeks of turkey leftovers, there's no need to roast a 15-pound gobbler.
You could roast just a couple turkey legs if you like dark meat. If you prefer white meat, stuff and roll a turkey breast.
For extra flavor and juiciness, consider brining your turkey breast before stuffing it. If you do this, reduce the amount of brine you make and skip salting the turkey breast in Step 6.
Stuffed Turkey Breast Roast: A Winning Recipe
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.
What Size Turkey Breast to Buy
This recipe calls for a 2-pound boneless turkey breast. That’s a fairly small size. If larger ones are all you can find, double the stuffing ingredients and cut the breast in half. Then, roast two stuffed turkey breasts. Adjust roasting time, as needed (this is when a good meat thermometer comes in handy!).
Plan for for about 1/2 pound of turkey per person. A 5-pound breast will feed 8 to 10 people.
For the Juicy Roast Turkey Breast, Use a Thermometer
A meat thermometer takes the guesswork out of roasting. Turkey breast meat is an especially lean cut, so it's easy to overcook. Here's a little handy guide on getting the right temperature for your bird (this is for chicken, but it applies to turkey and other poultry as well.)
Can You Stuff Turkey Breast Ahead of Time?
You don't want to leave your stuffed turkey uncooked, because of salmonella concerns. What you can do is make the stuffing 2 to 3 days in advance, cool, and refrigerate.
What to Serve With Turkey Breast Roast
- Quinoa, Arugula, and Feta Salad
- Green Beans with Almond and Thyme
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- Sweet Potato and Yukon Gold Bake
More Turkey Recipes to Make!
- Mom’s Roast Turkey
- Curried Turkey Soup With Leftover Turkey
- Hot Turkey Sandwich
- Turkey Stew With Root Vegetables
- Cajun Turkey Pot Pie
Roast Turkey Breast with Breadcrumb Stuffing
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.
If you don't eat bacon, just use a generous tablespoon of butter to sauté the shallots instead.
For the Turkey:
1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 thick slice bacon (see recipe note)
Butter, extra virgin olive oil, OR bacon fat
1/4 cup minced shallot
2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons turkey or chicken stock (can sub water)
1 boneless turkey breast (about 2 pounds)
For the Gravy:
1 turkey wing, optional
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
Rehydrate and chop the dried porcini mushrooms:
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.
Cook, then chop the bacon:
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 (or if you want to omit the bacon), add butter or olive oil to make one tablespoon.
Make the stuffing:
Heat the same pan on medium (do not drain the fat rendered out of the bacon), add the minced shallots and cook until they begin to brown. Add the chopped dried cranberries, minced sage and chopped mushrooms. Stir well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the breadcrumbs, parsley, chopped bacon, and 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. Season to taste with salt, as needed.
Remove the skin, then pound the turkey breast:
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 thick the breast is.)
Spread stuffing over the turkey breast, then roll up:
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.
Starting with one of the shorter ends of the turkey rectangle, roll up the turkey breast.
Lay the skin over the top of the rolled breast and tuck any under the edges.
Tie the turkey breast:
Tie the rolled turkey breast tightly with kitchen string (cotton, not nylon) 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.
Roast at 400°F for 20 minutes, then drop the heat to 325°F and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the breast reads about 155°F on a meat thermometer.
Note: USDA guidelines recommend cooking turkey to 165°F or until no longer pink in the middle. However, we prefer to remove the breast from the oven when it reaches 155°F, covering with foil, and letting it rest to finish cooking. The turkey should reach 165°F as it rests; check with an instant-read thermometer before serving.
Let rest for at least 10 minutes:
Once the turkey reaches the right 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.
Make gravy with the pan drippings:
While the turkey breast is resting, if you want, 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 it 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.
Slice the stuffed breast and serve:
Remove the kitchen string, and thinly slice the rolled breast into about 1/2-inch slices. Place onto individual serving plates or a serving platter and serve with gravy poured over or on the side, as desired.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 9g||11%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||17%|
|Total Carbohydrate 17g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||5%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 2mg||11%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|