Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Roasted Turkey Roulade with Cranberry Pecan Stuffing: Thanksgiving Part One

For people who love to eat (*cough* myself *cough*) there is no greater holiday than Thanksgiving. Although I pride myself, and this blog, on presenting simple yet delicious recipes for the amateur cook, I needed to step things up for this epic holiday of food. Thus, my Roasted Turkey Roulade with Cranberry Pecan Stuffing.

But Stacy, why not just roast up a regular bird and call it a day? Well, it turns out that this is much easier in many ways and better suited to my family.

Here is why (imagine me saying this in a cheesy salesperson voice):

Do you tend to skip the dark meat and head straight for the breast? Do you hate waiting four hours for an entire turkey to roast? Do you struggle year after year to carve that giant bird, and then have to deal with all those bones? Then this turkey roulade is for you!

It's just a boneless turkey breast butterflied (cut open like a book) and pounded flat, rolled up with stuffing in the middle so when you slice it, each piece contains a spiral of stuffing. It makes for a gorgeous presentation, and the best part is your butcher will butterfly and pound the breast for you, free of charge!

This sounds tricky, but it really isn't. Roulade is just French for "roll that $#@% up!"

For comparison sake (and a good laugh), check out the ridiculous video below:


  • 3 lb. skin on, boneless turkey breast. This is enough meat for at least four people. I called the butcher at the grocery store ahead of time to order this and requested that it be butterflied and pounded flat. Why do the work when they will do it for free? (sez the Jew on Thanksgiving)
  • 6 tbsp butter. You heard me.
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme. You can use fresh if available, but double the amount.
  • 2 tsp. dried sage. See above.
  • 2 tsp. dried rosemary. See above.
  • Salt and pepper or garlic pepper to taste
  • 1 onion. Peeled and chopped.
  • 1 can low sodium chicken broth. You will need one cup of it for the stuffing and the rest to pour in the roasting pan.
  • 1 big ole handful of Craisins. These dried cranberries are inexpensive and plump up beautifully when cooked with the turkey.
  • I big ole handful of chopped pecans
  • 2 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing. You can use another brand if you'd like or make your own from scratch, but this is just so much easier.
  • 2 tbsp. butter. Yup, more butter!
Vegetables: These are optional, but since you are using the pan and oven anyways, you might as well roast some vegetables along with the turkey for a simple side dish.
  • 5-6 red potatoes
  • Handful of baby carrots or two large peeled carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 onion
  • The rest of the can of chicken broth
  • Splash of white wine (optional)
  • Kitchen string. Available at the grocery store.
  • Basting brush. Not super necessary, but it makes it easier to paint the herb butter on the turkey.
  • Instant read meat thermometer. You can buy a cheap one at the grocery store, and it really is the only fail proof way to ensure you don't give your guests salmonella.
  • Large roasting pan. Ideally one with a roasting rack. If you don't have one, you can always buy a heavy duty foil roasting pan to throw away for easy clean-up.
This looks like a big scary list of ingredients, but it's really not. This is one of those dishes that looks super complicated and will trick your guests into thinking you are the long lost child of Martha Stewart, when really you will be more like the long lost child of Sandra Lee. In a good way.


Take your turkey breast out of the fridge so it has time to come up to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Time to prepare the stuffing! Melt the 2 tbsp. of butter in a saucepan over medium high heat and add your chopped up onion.

When the onion has become softened and translucent after a couple minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat and add the stuffing mixture and cup of chicken broth. Stir to combine.

Cut up your vegetables in large, equally sized chunks (making sure to peel the onion and large carrots first) and put them in the bottom of your roasting pan. Put the rack on top of them and pour in the rest of your can of chicken broth and splash of wine. This will help keep everything nice and moist.

Season the turkey breast generously with salt and pepper. Spoon the stuffing onto the breast and spread it out in an even layer, leaving a border of about one inch on all sides. Add the handful pecans and handful of craisins.

Now for the roulade-ing. I promise, this is not difficult! Start at one end of the turkey breast and tightly roll it up like a sleeping bag with the stuffing inside.

With the seam side down and the skin side up, cut some pieces of kitchen string and tie them tightly around the turkey roll at intervals of every couple inches. Trim any excess string and lay the turkey roll on the roasting rack (seam side down, skin side up).

Now it's time for LOTS AND LOTS OF BUTTER, Y'ALL! Melt 6 tbsp. butter in the microwave or over the stove and add your herbs (thyme, sage, and rosemary). Using your basting brush or your hands, coat the turkey with about half of this butter mixture. Sprinkle the turkey and vegetables with some more salt and pepper.

Pop that baby in the oven! Check on the turkey after about 45 mins. and baste it with the rest of your herb butter. If the skin on top starts to get too brown, cover the pan loosely with a piece of foil.

A 3 lb. breast should take about 1.5 hours total, but the only way to know for sure is to stick your meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat (that's what she said?) and make sure it has reached 165 degrees. At this point the turkey should be moist and perfect, the skin beautifully browned, and the vegetables tender.

Once the turkey is at 165 degrees, remove it from the pan and put it on a cutting board. Cover it with foil and let it rest for about fifteen minutes. It will stay nice and hot, and this is the best way to ensure the juices redistribute in the turkey and keep it from drying out.

While it's resting, this is the perfect time to make gravy. Remove the vegetables from the roasting pan with a slotted spoon and put them aside.

Pour the pan drippings into a small saucepan and whisk in a packet of turkey gravy mix or a couple tablespoons of flour, depending on how many drippings you have and how thick you like your gravy. Heat the mixture to a boil and then lower it to a simmer, whisking to remove any lumps. To be on the safe side, you can always pour it through a strainer into your serving vessel.

Flatter the man of the house (in this case my father) by asking him to carve the turkey. Have him cut off the string, slice up the roulade, and serve with the gravy and/or cranberry sauce.

This makes for a beautiful and delicious alternative to a big generic roasted turkey. Stay tuned for Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts!

What did YOU make for Thanksgiving this year??

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tuscan White Beans

In general, sidekicks tend to get kind of a bad rap. They are usually just there to support the hero and provide comic relief.

But how can you even have a hero without a sidekick? It's time for the Robins, Pepas, Stimpys, Mini Mes, and Ron Weasleys of the world to stand up for themselves!

The same goes for food. Side dishes are usually an afterthought, relegated to mere soggy microwaved vegetables or greasy french fries. Why not make your side dishes spectacular? My Tuscan White Beans are super easy, healthy, and full of flavor. They are the perfect complement to pretty much any meat, especially chicken or fish.

Make a side dish that stands up for itself, instead of riding alongside the main course in a humorous and slightly pathetic sidecar.

  • 1 can of cannelini beans, mostly drained. Also known as white beans. Leave a bit of the starchy liquid in the can, as it will help thicken the dish.
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, mostly drained. Leave some of the liquid in the can. Feel free to use regular or Italian style tomatoes.
  • 1 big ole handful of spinach leaves. Tear them into smaller pieces.
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 splash of white wine. You can just sort of eyeball it. Italian cooking is all about playing around with your ingredients (while expressively waving your hands in the air). If that makes you uncomfortable, I would estimate roughly 1/4 cup or so.
  • 1 splash of balsamic vinegar. See above.
  • 1 small splash of lemon juice. I dunno...maybe about a tablespoon?
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese. Optional, but who doesn't love parmesan cheese?
This hearty side dish could even make for a nice lunch by itself with a nice hunk of bread. Enjoy!


Heat a saucepan to medium high and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Chop up your onion and throw it in.

Once the onion has softened, add your minced garlic and stir to cook for a minute. Pour your splash of wine into the saucepan to let it soak into the onion and garlic for another minute.

Then add your partially drained tomatoes and Italian seasoning.

Add your balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and spinach to the mix. Let the spinach leaves wilt down in the saucepan.

Finally, add your can of mostly drained beans. Any remaining starchy liquid from the can will help thicken the mixture. Stir and cook until the beans are heated through. The longer you let it simmer, the better (I would recommend about fifteen minutes, but you can serve immediately if you are in a hurry).

Pour into a bowl, top with parmesan cheese, and serve!