Rolled Turkey Breast with Pear and Sage Stuffing

Unbelievably moist, rolled up with stuffing spiked with pears and sage, and basted from the inside with bacon, this turkey will shine on your holiday table or buffet.  Please, however, don’t be daunted by the length of this recipe because it is three recipes in one – turkey, stuffing, and gravy!  The toughest part may be removing the bone from the full breast, but even that is easier than it sounds, plus if you don’t want to bother with that, you can always have your butcher do it for you.  Just make sure he keeps the skin and breast each in one piece.  And remember to keep the bones for making the gravy.

To make it seem like less of a task, prepare the stuffing the day before and store in the fridge until you’re ready for it.  If your guests are big fans of stuffing, and this is a good one, double the recipe and bake the unused portion separately — Place the remaining stuffing in a clean, buttered aluminum foil drip pan.  About 45 minutes after you start the turkey, swap this for the drip pan beneath the turkey.  Drizzle juices from the drip pan over the stuffing. Stuffing temperature should reach 165 degrees F. to be safe to serve.

Rolled Turkey Breast with Pear and Sage Stuffing

For stuffing:
2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for turkey
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 cup celery, diced
2 pears, peeled and diced
3/4 lb pork sausage (not just ground pork), casings removed
1/3 cup Poire William (pear brandy) or white wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
3 cups herb seasoned stuffing mix
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 2 teaspoons for seasoning turkey
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus1 teaspoon for seasoning turkey

For turkey:
1 turkey breast, whole (2 halves), boned (see note*)
1 pound sliced bacon
Kitchen twine

For gravy:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Reserved bones from turkey breast, roughly chopped
1 small Spanish onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
8 cups cold water
2 sprigs fresh sage
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup flour

For stuffing:
Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown; about 15 minutes.  Add celery and pears and sauté 5 minutes more until softened. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.  Wipe out pan with a paper towel and crumble the sausage into pan. Brown the sausage, stirring frequently, breaking into small pieces until cooked. Return sautéed vegetables back to pan and add the pear brandy, sage, and walnuts.  Cook for 2 more minutes, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon.

Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well. (The stuffing may be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight.)

For turkey:
Carefully remove the skin from the breast in one piece by working your hand under the skin starting at the neck; set aside. Cut away the bone the from turkey breast (see note*), being careful to keep it intact; reserve the bones and any small pieces of meat.  Lay the full turkey breast skin-side down on a plastic wrap covered cutting board. Roll the tenderloins out to the sides leaving them attached. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap and with the smooth-side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a small pot; pound the turkey breast to an even 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness.  Sprinkle the both sides of the breast with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper (1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper per side). Spread the stuffing in a 1/2-inch-thick layer over the meat, leaving a half-inch border on all sides – don’t add too much or turkey will be difficult to roll. Starting at one long end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll.

Spread out the skin (outer side down) and line with half the bacon. Place rolled turkey breast in the center and wrap to make a compact cylinder (another set of hands here is a huge help!).  Lay remaining strips of bacon over any areas (the ends) that might not get covered by the skin.

Set up grill for indirect cooking and stabilize at medium heat (325°F) by setting the two outside burners to medium. No direct heat beneath the turkey; place a drip pan in the center over the unlit burners.  Place turkey on grill over drip pans and cover grill.

For gravy:
Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the chopped turkey bones and sauté until browned (and no blood is seeping from bones).  Add the onions, celery, and garlic and continue cooking until softened. Add water and herbs; bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Reduce liquid by half to 4 cups.  Meanwhile, knead together the butter and flour to a smooth paste; set aside. Once reduced, strain the stock and return to pot. Return stock to a low simmer and whisk in butter-flour paste a little at a time until gravy reaches desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.

Start checking the temperature of the turkey at 1-1/2 hours. It should take 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 160- to 165- degrees F; keep watch because the turkey breast will dry out quickly the higher the temperature.  The carryover cooking will raise the internal temperature another 5- to 10- degrees.  Carefully remove the turkey to a cutting board and tent with foil for 15 minutes before slicing.

Slice into 1/2-inch pieces and serve hot with gravy.

Cook’s Note: (This is so much easier than it sounds!)  Once the skin has been removed, place the breast bone side up.  Using a small, very sharp knife (not a chef’s knife), and using short strokes with the tip of the knife against the bone, cut and scrape the meat away moving towards the middle of the breast. Cut around any shoulder and collar bones, including the wishbone. When you get to the center, stop and do the other side. Cut the keel bone away from the breast meat at the middle, leaving the breast in one big piece. The two tenderloins will be lying next to the breast meat at the edges – leave them attached.

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