There’s a New Kid on the Block!

I was inspired to create something new for our Thanksgiving dinner this year. Normally, the clan would have arrived and we’d have celebrated with a Turducken. This year however, people were working and only a few family members could get together on the appointed day. I knew a Turducken would be much too large. I wondered what I could serve that would be different and very special, but smaller. Gradually, over a period of weeks, a new vision emerged.

For years, I haven’t been able to eat turkey because it caused me so much digestive upset. Our butcher, Al Chater of the Pig and Olive, introduced me to organic turkeys eighteen months ago and a convert was born! Not only could I easily digest the organic turkey, but I really enjoyed its delicate flavour and moist meat. I was hooked. So, I went ahead and ordered a fresh organic turkey for Thanksgiving, still not knowing what I was going to do with it.

I had an “ah ha!” moment while reading the article “Foul Play” in the OCT/NOV issue of Fine Cooking. The article proposed using the turkey parts in different recipes as opposed to roasting the whole bird. The butcher agreed to my request and cut the turkey into different parts: a deboned, butter flied breast, deboned thighs, drumsticks and wings, and finally; the carcass for soups and stock. This would allow me to stuff, roll and cook the breast for Thanksgiving and freeze the rest in separate parcels for cooking at a later date in a variety of different recipes.

The next dilemma was what to use to stuff the turkey breast. I wanted something more than just a plain turkey breast with stuffing. I dreamed of something as exotic as the turducken, but much smaller. Then came the vision …a true Canadian Thanksgiving Beast…why not marry the Anglophone turkey with the Francophone tortiere? It would celebrate both my husband’s culture and my own and create a truly magnificent roast.

Recently, I had created a crustless tortiere recipe which I called Tortiere Medallions. They had the meat and flavour of a tortiere but were wrapped in bacon instead of a pastry crust, that would contain gluten. In the “Foul Play” article, they had used pancetta to top the turkey. I was concerned that wrapping the tortiere log in bacon might be too fatty for a rolled turkey breast, so I opted to use prosciutto instead of the bacon or pancetta. Now my concept was complete.

First I made two loaves of bread: one loaf of gluten free soda bread and one loaf of gluten free yeast bread. I used fresh sage and thyme, from my garden, combined with a bit of dried poultry seasoning to flavour the soda bread. For both types of bread I used the new flour blend I’ve been experimenting with: teff flour, sorghum flour, quinoa flour and xanthan gum. Both breads had an excellent texture and crumb. The taste is reminiscent of whole wheat or a light rye with the slight bite of a sourdough bread.

Second, I made the tortiere roll and wrapped it in prosciutto.

Tortiere Roll

1 pound ground organic pork
1 cup finely minced onion
1 cup gluten free bread crumbs
1 tsp dried savoury
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
Fresh ground mixed peppercorns to taste
1 egg beaten
10 slices of prosciutto

Combine the ground pork, crushed garlic, finely diced onion and herbs. Add the beaten egg and bread crumbs. Mix well. Form the pork mixture into a log about two inches in diameter and 8 to 10 inches long. Take 4 slices of prosciutto and lay them out side by side so they overlap slightly. Reserve the remaining 6 prosciutto slices, wrapped, in the refrigerator, until the last hour of the cooking. Lay the pork log on the prosciutto and roll it up until it is encased in prosciutto.

My family enjoy both stuffing the bird and dry dressing baked separately. This is the gluten free recipe that I use to make both.

Stuffing and Dry Dressing

8 to 10 cups of gluten free bread, torn into thumbnail sized pieces
2 cups of organic onion, chopped to a medium size
2 cups of organic celery, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup fresh chopped parsley
½ cup fresh chopped sage
1/3 cup fresh chopped chives
1/3 cup fresh chopped thyme
1 Tbsp dried poultry seasoning
1 tsp freshly cracked mixed pepper corns
2 organic eggs, beaten
½ cup melted organic butter (I used the fat I had been reserving off my organic bacon all week)

In a very large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Gradually, toss in the beaten egg with a fork. Add the melted butter or liquid bacon fat until the dressing is moist and sticks together well. Add an extra egg or more melted fat if the mixture is too dry. You could also use a little organic chicken broth or stock to add extra moisture. You don’t want it too wet, just moist enough that it will bind together well.

This mixture will be divided into two portions. One portion will be used in the turkey and the other portion will be packed into a flat casserole dish or large pie plate for baking later. Wrap the shallow casserole dish dressing with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator until the last hour of baking.

The Beast

4 kg or about 9 pounds deboned, butterflied, organic turkey breast
4 – 5 cups gluten free bread stuffing
1 tortiere log wrapped in prosciutto
6 slices of proscuitto
Fresh sage leaves
Olive oil
Sea salt
Cracked mixed pepper corns

Rinse the turkey breast in cold water and pat it dry. Spread it out on a clean work surface, skin side down. Evenly spread the gluten free bread stuffing over the inside of the turkey breast and pat it firmly into place. Place the prosciutto wrapped tortiere roll on top of the dressing. Roll the turkey breast around the tortiere roll. Using a length of butcher’s string, tie the breast shut in a nice tight roll. Rub the turkey breast with olive oil. Slide some sage leaves under the skin. Sprinkle the outside with a bit of course sea salt and freshly cracked mixed pepper corns. Place the rest of the sages leaves on top of the bird. Place the entire roll in a roasting rack that will fit into your roast pan. We bought a silicone harness with a handle for this purpose and it worked very well in my grandmother’s old roasting pan. Newer roasting pans have a metal wrack that acts in the same manner. Place the breast and the roasting wrack in a large roast pan.

Lightly tent the beast with a piece of tin foil. You want the air to be able to escape, so don’t wrap it tightly. The purpose is to protect the breast from browning too quickly and drying out, but you don’t want to steam the breast. Cover it, but leave enough room to allow the air to circulate.

Preheat the oven to 500F. Place the breast in the roast pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 350F. Roast the rolled breast for about 4 hours, basting occasionally. After 3 hours, remove the tin foil and place the reserved strips of prosciutto on top of the breast. Continue roasting the meat, without the tin foil, until the internal temperature reaches 165F and the prosciutto is slightly crispy.

At the same time, baste the dry dressing in the casserole dish with the pan drippings. Place it in the oven and bake for an hour, uncovered. If the dressing needs more drippings than the breast can give, add some melted butter to keep it moist. Bake it until it is nicely browned and hot all the way through. It should be crunchy on top.

Remove the rolled turkey breast from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes. Remove the prosciutto and slice it into ¼ inch slivers to garnish the meat. When your side dishes are ready, slice your Thanksgiving beast. Serve with cranberry sauce, prosciutto strips and all the trimmings. For dessert, I served gluten free Pumpkin Cheesecakes. Happy Thanksgiving!

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