ThanksgivingRecently an eleven kilo turkey entered my life. I haven’t got to the bottom of why two large turkeys urgently needed to be dispatched and given freezer room to, but I am certainly not complaining at receiving this unexpected gift, especially as they were happy, free range birds. Eternal thanks to Terry for doing the dispatching and plucking, and to Jane for sending the second turkey in my direction.

Eleven kilos is a lot of turkey, so butchering it prior to freezing was my first task. I took the breasts off and sliced them into the thinnest escalopes that I could. These were frozen each in their own bag for easy defrosting. The legs, each of which will make a joint big enough to feed four, were bagged up and frozen. I will probably bone these when I come to use them, and then stuff them before roasting them. The carcase was trimmed of all its usable meat which was cut into bite sized pieces and then bagged up in small portions to be frozen. I have plans for turkey and wild mushroom ragu to go with fresh pasta at some point in the future amongst other dishes. The carcase itself was cut up ( I have a very useful large cleaver) and boiled up with carrots, onions, garlic and herbs for a good supply of stock. Once the stock had been strained off and frozen in portions, the bones went into a very appreciative dog and four cats. Absolutely nothing wasted.

The above then is a very roundabout explanation of why I volunteered to cook the main course for Thanksgiving this year. My friend Doris, who is from Pittsburgh, is the usual hostess for this feast, and I did detect a slight trepidation on her part to entrust the preparation of this meal to someone who was not only not an American, but was wanting to do something off the norm with the turkey. I reassured her that cranberry sauce and candied sweet potatoes would be present, but for the rest she would have to put her trust in me. I think that she was pleased with the result.Turkey_rolls_cranberry_sauce

The idea for these rolls came from my recent trip to Sicily where we were served beef fillet rolls moistened by olive oil soaked breadcrumbs. Do not be tempted to cut down on the amount of oil in the stuffing as this is what gives the dish its moist tenderness.

TURKEY ROLLS     For six

large turkey escalopes – 6

fresh bread crumbs – from six slices of white bread

clove of garlic – 1

dried cranberries – 3 tablespoons

fresh parsley, chopped – 2 tablespoons

olive oil – 50 ml

salt and freshly ground black pepper

dried breadcrumbs for coating the kebabs

bacon or duck fat for cooking the rolls

Make the breadcrumb stuffing. Put the garlic and cranberries in the food processor and whizz to cut up. Add the breadcrumbs, parsley and olive oil. Pulse to mix. Season and then pulse again.

Lay one of the escalopes out on a board and flatten out with a meat tenderising mallet or a rolling pin. turkey_rolls

Spread a layer of stuffing over the turkey slice.turkey_rolls

Roll up as tightly as you can.

Cut into lengths of about two and a half centimetres and thread onto wooden skewers allowing one skewer per person. Do the same with all the escalopes.  When all the skewers are threaded with their rolls, put them into a plastic box and store them in the fridge until needed. The preparation up to this point can be done several hours in advance.

In the meantime, prepare a cranberry sauce.


turkey stock – 500 ml

dried cranberries – 3 tablespoons

any leftover breadcrumb stuffing

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Boil the turkey stock to reduce it by half to concentrate the flavour. Add the cranberries and simmer for about ten minutes until the fruit are soft.

Thicken the sauce with leftover breadcrumb stuffing. Add these bit by bit until the sauce is slightly thicken but still pourable. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Again you can prepare this sauce in advance and reheat it when ready to serve the turkey.turkey_rolls

To cook the rolls, dust with the dried breadcrumbs and cook in either duck or bacon fat on a griddle or in a frying pan. Cook for four or five minutes on each of the four sides, turn off the heat and leave the rolls to rest covered for another five minutes.

Serve with a little of the warmed sauce poured over, sweet potatoes roast with maple syrup and a green vegetable.

PS – if you think that I had my paintbrushes out to do the picture at the top of the post, let me tell you that it is a photograph. It is my Thanksgiving table decoration.