A lot of people like turkey but are put off either by the size of the bird or the hassle of cooking or carving it. For those times when you want the taste with none of the inconvenience, a rolled turkey breast may be the perfect alternative. It is perfectly sized for a smaller group of as few as four people. It is also a great addition to a buffet spread for those larger gatherings where this might be one of two or three meat or seafood alternatives.
You will find many rolled turkey breasts in supermarket freezers for about $20 each. They are good, but usually quite small (about 1 kilo in size or enough for 2-3 people) and with no guarantee of flavour or choice of stuffing. It’s a pretty basic offering but great if you’re looking for a basic starting point.
Alternatively, any butcher will be able to either order a turkey breast in for you, or will likely have one out the back that they can bone and butterfly for you. I bought a 2.2kg turkey breast this way and it fed 10 people.
It is a simple process to make the stuffing yourself and if you can tie a firm knot in a piece of string, you can tie up the turkey breast. It cooks in one hour and looks fantastic on a serving platter. You’ll look like a star.
- 1.2 -1.5kg* turkey breast, boned and butterflied (ask your butcher to do this for you)
- 1 cup day-old bread, cut into rough chunks (about 100g)
- ½ large onion, cut into large chunks
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 100 g whole unsalted macadamia nuts (sold loosely in fruiterers or supermarkets or specialty nut shops)
- 100g dried apricots
- ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
- 1-2 tbsp brandy (optional)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
*If you are feeding more people either buy another smaller turkey breast or buy one whole breast up to 2.5kgs in weight, which, when butterflied and stuffed will feed up to 10 hungry people. You will also need to double the amount of stuffing ingredients.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place the turkey breast, skin side down,on a clean work surface with the tips of the breast facing you. It should be opened out like the centre of a book, with each breast sitting to either side. The breast should be butterflied by your butcher, meaning that the turkey will open out and be a similar thickness across each side.
If this has not been done, here’s how to butterfly the turkey breast (and no, it’s not difficult at all): Using a sharp knife, start in the centre of the turkey and cut through the centre of each breast horizontally. Work the knife blade so that it moves from the centre out towards the outside edge of the breast. Do NOT cut all the way through, but stop when you are 1 cm from the outside edge. Fold the turkey outwards. You have now created a smooth surface on which to lay your stuffing.
Turn the breast round 180 degrees and cut the other breast from the centre out to the outer edge in the same way as before so the two halves are similar thicknesses.
Place the bread, onion, garlic, macadamias, roughly chopped apricots, parsley leaves, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until all the ingredients are the consistency of coarse sand. Add the brandy or a spoonful or two of water to moisten it a little and season to taste.
Place handfuls of the stuffing in the centre of the flattened turkey breast and spread it out to an even thickness of about 1 cm deep all over the meat. Turn the turkey 90 degrees so the shorter edge is facing you and carefully and slowly start to roll up the turkey. Keep a reasonably firm hold on it as you want it to be pretty snug. Fold it any odd bits along the edges to make a neat roll.
Cut four or five lengths of kitchen string about 60cms in length. Fold the first length of string in half and wrap the double layer of string around the centre of the turkey roll. Tie a firm knot and pull tightly on the string so that it sits tightly against the skin of the turkey roll. Cut off any loose ends of string. Repeat with the remaining lengths of string on either side of this centre line so that the turkey is tied at four or five intervals.
Place the roll in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Cover the meat with a sheet of foil. Bake for 40 minutes per kilo of meat, until you can insert a skewer into the centre of the roll – if the juices come out clean, it is cooked. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking just to brown it. Remove from oven and cover it with foil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving the roll.
To serve, cut the string ties away using a sharp knife, then slice into 8-10 slices and serve on a platter.
$28.00 for a 1.5kg turkey breast, enough for 6 large servings up to $65.00 for a 2.5kg free-range turkey from the butcher, enough for 10-12 people