Saturday, November 28, 2015


I know, turkey day is past and, once you finish the leftovers, you’ll probably forget about the bird for a year. But before you put turkey back in the coop until next Thanksgiving, I want to tout its versatility as a year-round dish for home entertaining.

Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Spain (although “Black Friday,” called by its American name, has come to be “celebrated” here), so we had our special meal Thursday evening, on a school night. (We get school holidays on December 6, Constitution Day, and December 8, Immaculate Conception holiday, with a "puente," or "bridge," so kids are off school the weekend plus Monday and Tuesday).

Turkey with all the trimmings for a small gathering.
With few Americans around to invite for dinner, a whole turkey was not on the bill of fare. Instead, I prepared boneless turkey breast rolled around a filling of chopped spinach and walnuts. With gravy and accompanying dishes of bread-mushroom stuffing, sweet potatoes with mandarin juice and Sherry and glazed onions we had a properly festive dinner. (Pumpkin tartlets for dessert were not so successful.) The turkey leftovers are made-to-order for sandwich fixings today.

With a swirl of green, the turkey breast is also good served cold.

That turkey breast roulade is equally good served cold. For a summer buffet meal, I roasted two of the rolls a day in advance and served them accompanied by a cold sauce.

This rolled and stuffed turkey breast looks elegant with its swirl of green in the center, but it’s ever so easy to prepare. The food processor makes short work of chopping the spinach, which needn’t be pre-cooked. One turkey breast half serves 6 to 8 persons as part of a buffet. If serving a larger group, you only need to double the stuffing ingredients and divide them between two half-breasts.

The turkey can be roasted as much as 24 hours before serving. Leave it tied, wrap in foil, and refrigerate. At least one hour before serving, remove from the refrigerator, remove the twine, and slice it while still cold. Arrange on a serving platter and allow to come to room temperature.

As the season for entertaining is just getting started, I suggest you keep turkey on call.

Turkey Breast Roulade with Spinach-Walnut Stuffing
Rulo de Pechuga de Pavo con Espinacas

Pomegranate molasses is a thick concentrate of pomegranate juice with a decidedly sweet-sour flavour. Here it makes a beautiful glaze on the roasted turkey. Look for pomegranate molasses in the Middle Eastern food section of the grocery store.

If possible, ask your butcher to open the turkey breast, slicing through the thickest parts to create a rectangular slab of meat of more or less even thickness.

Serves 6 to 8.

1 clove garlic   
4 ounces fresh spinach, washed and stems trimmed   
¼ cup walnuts     
1 tablespoon chopped parsley or fresh dill     
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1 egg white   
¼  cup fresh bread crumbs    
2 tablespoons olive oil     
Salt and freshly-ground pepper     
1 (2 ½  -pound) boneless, skinless turkey breast half
¼ cup pomegranate molasses
¼ cup white wine
Chicken or turkey stock (optional)
Cornstarch (optional)
Pomegranate seeds, to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Mince the garlic in a food processor. Add the spinach leaves and process until they are chopped. Add the walnuts, parsley or dill, yogurt, egg white, bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon of oil and process until nuts are coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper.

Open up the turkey breast half by cutting horizontally through the thickest parts and folding open the meat to make a rectangle approximately 12 X 7 inches. 

Spread spinach-nut mix on the turkey.
Spread the spinach mixture on the turkey. Starting with a narrow end, roll up the turkey. Fasten with a skewer. Use kitchen twine to tie the roll at 2-inch intervals.

Place the turkey in an oiled baking pan. Brush the turkey with 1 tablespoon of oil and place in the oven. Lower oven temperature to 325ºF. Roast for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the pomegranate molasses and wine. Pour half of it over the turkey breast.

I roasted some drumsticks and onions with the breast. Pomegranate molasses makes a luscious glaze.

Roast 30 minutes more and spoon remaining pomegranate and wine over the turkey. (Take care that the juices don’t completely cook off and burn.) Roast until turkey is done (internal temperature of 160ºF), about 1 ½  hours total. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and spoon some of the thickened pan drippings over it.

If meat is to be served hot, let it rest 10 minutes before removing string and carving. 

For gravy, add about 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock to the roasting pan and heat, stirring up all of the drippings. Combine cornstarch with a little cold water and stir into the stock. Cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Garnish the sliced turkey with pomegranate seeds, if desired.

Rest the turkey roll before slicing.

With onions, sweet potatoes and dressing for a holiday meal.

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