Stuffed Turkey Breast (and Turkey Subs)

Serves: 4 -8 per breast, depending on breast size

Christmas was always a pretty big deal in my family, something consistent with most families I guess.

My mother being an excellent – and calm – cook, would prepare the same amazing turkey lunch each year, remit with the world’s best stuffing, smooth, buttery mash, peas, gravy, ham and plenty of cranberry sauce. You left the table stuffed and poorly on your feet.

But the best part of this lunch wasn’t the lunch.

It was dinner.

Because after a few hours of playing with your toys and snoozing, it was time for turkey subs, an American invention my father would take control off.

Whoever invented turkey subs was a genius, because it is Christmas lunch all over again, except this time, served in a pile on a piece of bread. Think of it like Christmas Lunch Express™ but at dinner time.

And so with all this background, we arrive at this recipe.

For the past 10 years, I have done this Martha Stewart stuffed turkey breast rather than a whole turkey. A variety of reasons for this including that the breast is easier to cook and the breast really is what everyone wants right?

It also travels better than a whole cooked bird, is easier to slice the next day into sandwiches or a salad and well… it’s just easier and nobody complains or that I am aware of.

You could well add some chilli flakes to this dish, maybe some fennel seeds. The flavour by no means overwhelms and is just a subtle background flavour.

Turkey subs

Turkey subs simply make Christmas for me. They are your pat on the back that all your preparation and cooking and effort has been worth it and you can sit back with a vino and toast the end of the year.

To make the sub, start with a slice of bread for each person and then layer:


1kg turkey breast
Coarse Salt and Pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Sausage and Sour Cherry Stuffing

2 cups bread cubes from load of rustic
2 tbs olive oil
1 small red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced (about ¾ cup)
2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
Coarse salt and pepper
200g sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1/3 cup coarsely chopped dried sour cherries
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup chicken stock
3 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

For the Sausage and Sour Cherry Stuffing

  1. Toast the bread in a toaster or grill until golden. Allow to cool.
  2. Make the stuffing: Set a large frypan over medium-high heat until hot, then heat the oil.
  3. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add sausage and cook, breaking it up with the back of a spoon, until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Stir in cherries and rosemary, and cook 1 minute more.
  4. Pour in stock and stir to combine, then stir in bread, making sure all parts are moistened with liquid. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Adjust seasoning as desired.

For the stuffed turkey breast

  1. Heat oven to 200c.
  2. To butterfly the turkey, use a slicing knife and your fingers to remove skin from breast, reserving skin. Turn the breast over (so the side that had the skin is facing down), and lay it flat on the cutting board. Holding the blade of the knife parallel to the board, about halfway down, slice into the thickest portion of the breast. Cut along the length of the breast, but not all the way through. Unfold so the turkey opens like a book. Remove the tough piece of cartilage. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until the turkey is of uniform thickness (about 1/2 inch). Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread stuffing evenly (about 2cm thick) over turkey, leaving a 3cm border. Starting with one short end, roll into a log, completely enclosing the stuffing, and wrap the reserved skin around the breast, over the seam. Season all over with salt and pepper. Roll in a piece of cheesecloth, and secure both ends with kitchen twine; if you don’t have a cheesecloth, use twine all over as I do. Rub butter evenly all over cloth.
  4. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the middle registers 70 degrees, 40 to 50 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes (the internal temperature should rise to 75 degrees).
  5. Remove cheesecloth and twine, then place turkey on a cutting board and slice crosswise about 2cm thick.

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