Periodically, we invite our members or friends to guest post in this space. I marvel at what member Beth Volpe of Savory Eats in Southern California does with her Thanksgiving turkey. The way she bones and butterflies–it is a marvel of technique and her timing is the perfect example of exquisite planning that allows her to enjoy the day with family and friends. So, I asked her to explain to us how she makes it. And she surprised me with an additional recipe, which I think you’ll love. So, here is Beth:

Chef Beth Volpe

Savory Eats by Beth opened for business in January 2014. I had the fortune to take my classes in the warmth of Candy Wallace’s home and kitchen in San Diego. I am currently enrolled in Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy and have one year left towards becoming a Professional Culinarian. I have been cooking as long as I remember. I do it because I love it and it is who I am. I have three regular clients I cook for weekly and they are wonderful! I cater small dinner parties frequently and I teach cooking classes. Like all of us, I have done the work to get here and it has paid off.

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. I love the way the house smells when everything is cooking. When I was working in the corporate world I did not have time to prepare a full Thanksgiving dinner without being totally exhausted Thanksgiving Day. So for the past 10 years I have figured out a way to make my Thanksgiving meal two days before so that I would have the holiday to enjoy with my family. I make a brined, butterflied turkey, the gravy, the dressing, and the cranberry sauce the day before. Come Thanksgiving Day, all I do is slide my turkey in the oven and pour myself a glass of wine. One thing to note, in order for the turkey to fit in your oven and on a rack or the slotted top of your broiler pan, the turkey can be no larger than 14 lbs. Here is how I do it.

Over the years I have tried every variety of turkey out there (aside from hunting one down). In the end, they all taste the same after my process. So nowadays I generally purchase a nice frozen turkey. My process starts on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I butterfly the turkey. That requires cutting out the backbone and the tail. I reserve these parts to be used later in the making of my gravy. Reserve the gizzard, heart and neck. Once the backbone is removed I remove the tiny breast bones on each breast. This makes carving easier. Turn the bird over, stand on a stool so that your weight is above the turkey and press hard on the center of the breast. The breastbone must be broken in order for the turkey to lay flat. You will hear it crack. It’s at that point that I take the bird to the sink. It will be very floppy.

Butterflied turkey prep

Once I butterflied my first turkey and actually saw what was left inside the cavity, I was convinced that I would never again stuff a turkey. Sure we clean the inside well; however, there are the liver, kidney parts, and other “things” inside that cavity that just don’t wash away unless you open the bird up. Once cleaned I put the entire turkey into a brine (recipe to follow). It sits overnight or about eight hours. On Wednesday, I remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well in cold running water for five minutes. Dry the turkey with paper towels. It’s important to get as much of the moisture possible off of the bird. Place the bird on a cooling rack set in a rimmed cookie sheet, uncovered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. This is an important step because the chill dries the skin and creates a nice crispiness when roasting. I also make my gravy and my dressing on Wednesday. Come Thursday all that is left is to pop the turkey into the oven. I actually place the rack with the turkey over one of the large foil square pans full of my dressing. When the turkey cooks, the juices from the turkey drip into the dressing. So you get the great turkey flavor stuffing the turkey provides without the risk.

So, here we go:

BRINING

Tuesday – Butterfly the turkey, reserving all of the parts that you remove (minus the liver). Those parts get tossed into a roasting pan along with garlic, celery, and carrots to caramelize for the gravy.

Make your brine – I use brining bags from William Sonoma. They are worth every penny.

2 gallons water
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons black peppercorn – whole
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves

Add all ingredients to the brining bag and seal. Massage the mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar. Once dissolved, place your cleaned, butterflied turkey in the brine. Remove as much air as possible. Seal the bag and into the fridge it goes. There it will stay overnight for 8 hours.

Wednesday – Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine and bag. Rinse the turkey well for 5 minutes to remove the brine.

These instructions are without the dressing.

Cover a large jelly roll pan with foil (if you don’t like cleaning the pan) and place a cooling rack or the slotted top of your broiler pan on top of the foil. Place your turkey breast up on top of the cooling rack. Make sure all parts of the turkey fit on the cooling rack. You may need to tie the leg joints together to keep the thighs and legs in place. See Photo. Back into the fridge this goes for up to 24 hours. Do not cover.

Thursday – Pull out your bird. Be careful because there will be fluid in the pan and you don’t want to spill. Take the tray to the sink and pour off any accumulated fluid. Brush the turkey with turkey fat, duck fat or butter. Season with salt and pepper.

This turkey will literally take around 80 to 90 minutes to cook. I cook it hot at 450°F. I turn my turkey front to back after 40 minutes. Continue to cook until your instant read thermometer reads 175° in the thickest part of the thigh. Let rest. Carving this turkey is a breeze.

Roasted turkey

Chef Beth’s Thanksgiving Roulade
(Boneless Turkey Breast stuffed with Cranberry and Bourbon Compote, Turkey Leg and Thigh Confit, and a simple dressing wrapped in Puff Pastry)

Serves 5 to 6

I have been wanting to create a recipe for an elegant turkey dinner with all the flavors of Thanksgiving minus the carcass. This recipe was created in about a week. It took me two tries to get the outcome I was hoping for. I knew it the minute I tasted it. I hope you enjoy it!

The following items must be prepared before your start rolling.

TURKEY LEG AND THIGH CONFIT
6 peeled fresh garlic cloves
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon juniper berries
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Zest of one large lemon
8-9 cups duck fat
2 turkey legs, 2 turkey thighs, skin on
Fresh sage leaves
4 peeled fresh garlic cloves

In a food processor grind the first 6 ingredients. This will be your rub.

Massage the rub into your turkey legs and thighs. Place in a bag and let sit (preferably) overnight; however for this recipe I only let them marinate about 1 hour.

Prepping

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Heat the duck fat on the stove until melted.

Transfer the legs and thighs to a deep Dutch oven. Add a couple springs of fresh sage and 4 whole peeled garlic cloves. Pour melted duck fat over the turkey. Make sure all of the legs and thighs are submerged. Cook this for 3-4 hours uncovered. You want to make sure the turkey is very tender and cooked through.

Cooking process

Remove from oven. Let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. Keep in the Dutch oven and transfer to fridge when cool and cover. The confit is complete at this point and ready for use. It can stay in the fridge for a few days.

To prepare the confit for the roulade, gently reheat the confit in its fat on the stove and only when warm, carefully lift out the legs and thighs. Remove the meat from the bones and process in your food processor (pulse so that you have control) until coarsely ground.

Confit off the bone

Add enough gravy from the roasted turkey to give it a spreading consistency. You will have leftover confit to enjoy.

CRANBERRY/BOURBON COMPOTE

4 cups fresh cranberries (should be equal to one bag at the grocery store)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup bourbon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Toss everything into a small saucepan and cook at medium-low heat, stirring periodically. Reduce until you get to a compote consistency. Remove cinnamon stick and process the mixture in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate

Compote

DRESSING

I used a very simple recipe that I found on Epicurious. I needed something relatively plain but with all of the traditional ingredients…parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, all from my garden.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
1 pound good-quality, day-old white bread, torn into 1″ pieces (about 10 cups)
2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups celery, sliced in 1/4″ pieces
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 250°F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish and set aside. Scatter bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, melt 3/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and celery. Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in 1 1/4 cups broth and toss gently. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of dressing registers 160°F, about 40 minutes. DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Uncover; let cool. Cover; chill.

Bake dressing, uncovered, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40-45 minutes longer (if chilled, add 10-15 minutes).

PREPPING THE ROULADE

I use a ½ skinned, boned turkey breast (Reserve bones and skin for another use.) and 1 sheet of puff pastry dough.

Lay turkey breast skin side down (sans skin) on a long sheet of plastic wrap to aid in rolling the roulade later.

Prep breast

It’s important to make sure that the turkey breast half is uniform before pounding. So, it may be necessary for you to butterfly a portion of the breast that is thicker. Place in plastic bag and pound to ½-3/4 inch thick. Turkey breast halves are not symmetrical. You may need to do some trimming. Use the turkey tenderloin to fill in open spots.

Roll roulade

Spread an even coat of the cranberry compote all over the breast.

Spread the confit in an even layer over the compote. Press down.

Spread an even layer of the dressing over the confit. Press down.

Do your best to maintain the integrity of the layers.

Use the plastic wrap to roll the turkey breast. Parts may fall out the sides but don’t worry. You will stuff them back in and use the plastic wrap to form the roulade. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 to 12 hours.

It is now time to wrap the roulade with puff pastry dough. You will need only one sheet per half breast. Roll it out very thin (1/16 to 1/8 inch). Make sure your roulade will fit on the pastry sheet and be fully covered front to back. You will need a couple of inches on each side. Remove the plastic wrap from the rolled breast and cover the breast with the pastry sheet. On the sides, cut away extra dough (it won’t cook through) and seal the ends by tucking them underneath the roulade. Place on a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove and make fine cuts into the pastry diagonally across the top. Brush with an egg wash and bake in a 350° preheated oven for 1 hour or until crust is golden brown and turkey registers 165°.

Bake roulade

If there are fluids around the roast, carefully discard them. Allow roulade to rest 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully slice and serve with gravy and the remaining Cranberry Bourbon Compote.

Elegant, the whole dinner in one roulade! Mission accomplished!

Turkey Roulade

What’s your favorite way to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey? Please leave a comment for Beth and let her know your thoughts or ask her a question.

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Caron Golden

About 

Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Beth Volpe’s Thanksgiving Turkey Two Ways: Undecided about how to prepare your turkey/s or how to get the dinner on the table so you can enjoy it with your loved ones? APPCA member Beth Volpe of Savory Eats figured out a way to make her Thanksgiving meal two days before so that she would have the holiday to enjoy with her family. “I make a brined, butterflied turkey, the gravy, the dressing, and the cranberry sauce the day before. Come Thanksgiving Day, all I do is slide my turkey in the oven and pour myself a glass of wine.” Beth offers her method of brining the turkey and has an additional recipe for a sensational turkey roulade. […]

    Pingback by The Best of Thanksgiving | Personal Chef Blog — February 19, 2018 @ 2:27 pm

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