A rolled, sausage stuffed turkey breast wrapped in a fancy bacon mantle is a unique and delicious way to serve turkey to a smaller crowd. Whether it's the star of the show for an intimate holiday feast or for an elegant dinner party, this special dish is sure to impress. (Skip to recipe.)
Sometimes you just need to go all out. You need to put in that extra little effort to wow the world (your little corner of the world, anyway). Maybe the coming holidays are the time, or maybe you're having a dinner party or a special occasion to celebrate.
With a little planning and a few steps, you've got this; a showstopper of a dish that's not only good to look at, but fantastic to eat. We'll walk through this together and come out the other end with a beautiful, lip-smacking, rolled and stuffed turkey breast all dressed in a bronzed and crispy bacon mantle. It's not that hard, I promise. It just takes a bit of attention to detail, and you can make it a few hours before you need to serve it, so you have time to wipe your sweaty brow, polish the doorbell, and have a holiday drink to celebrate your kitchen prowess.
Let's Get Started with our Stuffed Turkey Breast
You will need to get a boneless skinless turkey breast half - all in one piece. Not like me, when I bought my turkey breast for these photos. It was packed in a cellophane pack and it looked like one whole piece, so I didn't think to question it. My mistake. When I got it home, it was actually two smaller turkey breast halves. Jeesh! I didn't want to go back into town to hunt down another one, so I had to cobble those pieces together. I recommend ordering a whole side of a turkey breast ahead from your butcher, to make sure it's in one piece.
Okay, now let's get started.
You will need to butterfly the turkey breast (I'll call it a turkey breast for simplicity, but it's really only half of one); that just means to cut it in half horizontally and fold it open so it's thinner. You just lay the turkey breast, smooth side down, on top of a piece of plastic cling wrap. Hold your hand flat on top of the turkey breast to stabilize it, and cut horizontally through the thickest part - but not quite all the way through. Then open it up like a book, folding out the part you just cut.
Here, let's let the expert show us how it's done:
Now you have a nice thick mat of meat (pretend mine's not in two pieces). I like to cut several long gashes into the thickest parts to make them easier to pound out.
Cover with another piece of plastic cling wrap. Using the smooth side of a meat hammer, a rolling pin, or a cast iron or heavy skillet, gently bash the meat, starting from the center and moving outward in all directions, until it is flattened to about the same thickness everywhere, about ½-inch (1.3 cm) thick.
Peel off the top layer of cling film. Set aside.
Now mix together the ingredients for the sausage stuffing. Spread it over the flattened turkey breast to within an inch (2 cm) from the edges.
Starting on the long side, roll up the turkey breast, pushing the stuffing down into place with your fingers as you roll (use the plastic to help you, but don't roll the plastic up with it). You may not get more than one roll of the meat, or if it's narrow, you may only have the edges of the turkey cutlet meet at the top.
Now leave your rolled turkey breast and make your bacon mat.
How to Make a Bacon Mat
Start with 12 strips of bacon that are cut to regular thickness (thick-cut slices won't crisp up and thin-cut slices will burn).
Lay down seven of them in parallel lines straight out in front of you (vertically), with about ¼ inch space between the strips.
Then fold back every second strip a few inches and lay one strip of bacon across the ends, horizontally (perpendicular to the grid strips). Flip the folded strips back into place.
Now fold the alternating strips back over the horizontal strip, and lay another piece of bacon crosswise over the vertical slices. Flip back the folded strips.
Continue folding back alternating strips and adding another bacon slice (leaving a little space between them) to form a basket-weave pattern with seven vertical strips and five horizontal strips. Ta-da! Your bacon mat is done.
Now, Back to the Stuffed Turkey Breast
Place your turkey breast onto the center of the bacon mat the long way, seam side up, centered so that the same amount of turkey roll sticks out both sides (if it's longer than the mat), or so that there's the same amount of space on each end (if it's shorter than the mat).
Use the plastic wrap to help lift up the bacon mat on both sides of the roll and bring it around to meet up at the top where the seam is on the stuffed turkey breast. Use the plastic also to firmly shape the roll so there are no loose parts or air pockets. Depending on the thickness of your stuffed turkey breast roll, the bacon may overlap in some spots or not quite meet in the middle in others.
Put a sheet of parchment paper onto a rimmed baking sheet - make it big enough so it sticks up a bit all the way around. Invert the bacon wrapped roll and place it onto the baking sheet so it is seam-side-down. Carefully pull out the plastic wrap from underneath the roll on both sides and remove it. Tuck back in any stray ends of bacon that may have become dislodged, and tuck in and smooth out the bacon mat at each end of the roll so it is as neat as can be.
Now just bake it. Then let the turkey roll rest, covered, for a time so the juices redistribute throughout the meat and it's easier to cut. Lift it onto a serving platter and decorate as you wish. If there are any bits of bacon that came loose and got too dark near the ends, trim them off.
Cut into nice thick slices and serve. Wow. You did it. You created a masterpiece.
Now you can just set the table with your prettiest dishes, light some candles, and pop the wine cork. It's time for an elegant dinner chez vous!
You might want to serve your beautiful stuffed turkey breast with:
- Classic Mashed Potatoes
- Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy
- Cranberry Sauce or Hot Curried Peaches
- Festive Pomegranate-Pear Green Salad, Shaved Brussels Sprout Slaw, Kale Salad with Cranberries, or Purple Power Slaw
- Jeweled Roasted Cauliflower, Apple Cider Roasted Carrots, or steamed green beans
And for dessert, how about:
- Pumpkin Spice Pavlova, Moelleux au Chocolat, Zabaglione with Berries, or a festive fruit salad
- Or maybe some German Christmas Cookies and a mug of luscious, thick, Italian hot chocolate
*Don't forget a festive holiday cocktail to sip on before or after you enjoy your special dinner.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: Order you turkey breast ahead or make sure it is in one piece, if possible. You could substitute walnuts or pistachios for the pecans, and substitute diced dried apricots or raisins for the dried cranberries.
Rolled Stuffed Turkey Breast Wrapped in Bacon
- 1 skinless, boneless turkey breast half (about 1¾ lb/800 g) in one piece
- 8 oz (225 g) mild Italian sausage meat (or sausages)
- ¼ cup (35 g) chopped pecans
- ¼ cup (35 g) chopped dried cranberries
- ¼ cup (25 g) rolled oats
- 1 large egg
- zest of half an orange (preferably organic)
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- ½ teaspoon ground dried sage
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 12 slices bacon (regular, not thick-cut or thin-cut)
Butterfly the turkey breast: Lay the turkey breast down onto a piece of plastic cling wrap on a cutting board, smooth side down. Lay one hand on top of the breast, and using your other hand make a horizontal cut halfway through the thickest part to about one inch (2.5 cm) from the long end (see the video here). Fold out the flap you've cut so it opens up like a book.
Cut several long gashes into the thickest parts of the opened up turkey breast to make them easier to pound out. Cover with another piece of cling wrap. Using the smooth side of a meat hammer, a rolling pin, or a cast iron or heavy skillet, gently bash the meat, starting from the center and moving outward in all directions, until it is flattened to about the same thickness everywhere, about ½-inch (1.3 cm) thick. Peel off the top layer of cling film.
In a bowl, mix together the sausage meat (if using premade sausages, slit the casing and peel it off) with the pecans, cranberries, rolled oats, egg, orange zest and juice, sage, salt, and pepper.
Pat the sausage mixture into an even layer on top of the pounded turkey breast, leaving a 1-inch (2.5cm) border uncovered all the way around. Starting on the long side, roll up the turkey breast, using the plastic wrap or parchment paper to lift up the long end and help you roll it into a roll, tucking in any bulging sausage filling as you go. The filling feels like it is quite a lot and it is moist, but it will firm up as it bakes, and it won't be too much afterward. Leave the turkey roll lying, seam-side-down, on the plastic while you make the bacon mat (this gives the oats time to soak up some of the moisture).
Make the bacon mat: on a long piece of plastic cling wrap, lay out seven slices of bacon in a parallel grid, leaving about ¼ inch space between each of the slices. Fold back every second slice and lay down a bacon slice perpendicularly across them, close to the ends. Flip the folded slices back into place. Now fold back all the alternate slices (the ones that were not folded back last time) and lay a second slice perpendicularly across those first five slices, and flip back the folded slices. Continue laying down the remaining three slices, alternating the flipped slices, to form a basket-weave mat. Leave it on the plastic or parchment.
Carefully lift the stuffed turkey breast roll and flip it onto the bacon mat, seam side up and centered so the ends stick out evenly on both sides of the bacon mat. Use the plastic wrap under the bacon mat to help you lift up the sides and bring it around the turkey roll so the bacon meets up to form a seam directly on top of the turkey seam at the top of the roll, enclosing the turkey roll completely. At this point the roll can be wrapped with another layer of plastic wrap, put onto a plate, and refrigerated for 2 to 3 hours. Remove it from the fridge to come to room temperature 30 minutes before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Lay a piece of parchment paper into a baking pan. Transfer the bacon-wrapped stuffed turkey roll onto the baking pan, inverting it so the seam is on the bottom now. Carefully pull out the plastic wrap and tuck any stray bacon ends back neatly underneath. Tuck in the bacon at the ends of the roll neatly, too.
Bake the stuffed turkey roll for 60 to 65 minutes, until a meat thermometer reaches 165°F (74°C) when poked in the thickest part.
Remove the pan from the oven, cover with foil, and let the turkey roll rest for 15 minutes.
Trim off (with a scissor) any bacon ends that may have curled up and got too dark. Carve the roll into 1-inch (2.5cm) slices to serve.
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