Our family has never been big turkey fans, especially me. Too many bad memories of my mom’s dry, tasteless bird on the big day. Don’t get me wrong – my mom was an absolutely awesome cook. But let’s just say that turkey was never her forte (along with meatloaf – but that is a story for another day.) Not unlike many other Italian homes, homemade pasta was her gig and the star of the T’day line up. We were fortunate to have homemade ravioli or cappelletti or passatelli as the first course and as far as I was concerned, could have been the only course.
So when the big Thanksgiving day feast moved to my home years ago, I finally had control over the main course. Bucking tradition, I gleefully served crown roast of pork or juicy beef tenderloin, sometimes to the dismay of my family. I occasionally would cook turkey – against my will. However, as the little ones in the family grew, they kept asking for a true American Thanksgiving – complete with turkey and all its fixings. So I finally gave in and now do typically serve up some sort of turkey as part of the main course. Hell bent on not repeating the (dry turkey) sins of the past, I search for methods and ways to keep my little bird moist and succulent (brining a whole turkey tends to do the trick). If our gathering is small, this is one of my other ways to keep things juicy – stuff a turkey breast.
Stuffing the breast with tasty morsels helps to keep it moist from the inside out. I ask my butcher to butterfly the breast and then cover with a layer of mortadella, prosciutto or pancetta whose fat melts into the meat as it cooks. I then make a thin frittata using whatever happens to be around – sometimes little more than eggs, salt, pepper, parsley. I sometimes add a layer of baby spinach or if feeling ambitious, saute the spinach in some oil and garlic to add more flavor (or if feeling lazy, just toss the spinach into the frittata). To roll the breast, be sure to lay it out on a few sheets of plastic wrap. The plastic wrap really helps you roll the breast once stuffed.
Once rolled and tied, a simple sizzle in a pan to brown the outside and a finish in the oven results in a really tasty, moist turkey course that I can serve with all the requisite sides if so desired. As the turkey breast rests, I make a simple pan sauce into which I place the turkey once sliced to give it that extra oomph. An easy and tasty alternative to that big bird!
From our house to yours, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
An easy alternative to a big Thanksgiving bird – a tasty rolled turkey breast stuffed with a frittata!
- 4 eggs
- 3 teaspoons grated Parmigiano
- Fresh parsley
- Kosher salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 pound breast of turkey
- About 8 slices prosciutto
- Fresh baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup dry white wine
- A few sprigs fresh rosemary
- A few sprigs fresh thyme
Make the frittata: In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the Parmigiano, about a ¼ cup of fresh chopped parsley, a few large pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a medium pan, heat a few tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Pour in the egg mixture and cook over medium heat until cooked on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook on other side until done. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prep the turkey breast: Butterfly the turkey breast (if not already done by your butcher). Place the turkey breast on a cutting board and using a knife, cut the breast parallel to the cutting board, leaving the other side intact so that you can open the turkey breast like a book.
Cover a clean cutting board with plastic wrap. Place the turkey breast on top, open and flatten. Cover with plastic wrap and pound to flatten into an even thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay slices of prosciutto to cover turkey breast, then the baby spinach. Finally, cover with the frittata. Using the plastic wrap to help, roll the turkey breast and tie with kitchen twine. (Having a helper makes this a bit easier.) Season the outside with salt and pepper.
Heat a large sauté pan (cast iron works great here) over medium heat with a few tablespoons olive oil and the butter. Brown all sides of the turkey breast. Remove from heat. Pour in the white wine. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary and thyme to the pan. Cover the pan with a lid or foil. Place in the oven and roast until the internal temperature of the turkey is about 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 12 minutes per pound. Remove from oven and let stand for about 10 minutes. Remove the roast to a cutting board and let rest.
Meanwhile, heat the pan on the stove over medium heat. Add another sprig of rosemary and thyme. Boil the remaining liquid in the pan until slightly reduced. (Feel free to add in some stock or more wine to add to the liquid in the pan.) Slice the roast into thick slices. Briefly place the slices in the pan to coat with the sauce. Remove the slices to a warmed plate. Spoon the sauce on top. Serve and enjoy!