I think what I love so much about the holidays, is that it’s a time for us to come together. To sit amongst the people we love, to share nourishing food, to (hopefully) put our differences aside, to express our gratitude and simply just be with one another. I think we can all agree that this is all so very much needed this year.
I love that with every person I speak to, their version of holiday traditions and gatherings vary so vastly. From restaurant meals and take-out to large feasts of over 50 people. The common thread: gratitude, love and of course, food!
What’s been the most challenging since our move out to California nearly 4 years ago, is the lack of rooted traditions. So far, every Thanksgiving and every Christmas has differed greatly from the previous year. It’s truly a metaphor for our life our here, exciting, unique and ever-evolving. At times I think back on the first 30+ years of holidays at home in NY with my family and I recall years of tradition, of family and being surrounding in so much love. While the events themselves, the locations and the guests certainly varied, there is a comfort in knowing no matter the small details you will be together.
This year Thanksgiving has proven to be a bit different. We aren’t traveling home and I decided against hosting a large feast with guests (for many reasons). Our travels to Mexico last year with our good friends, which are meant to be a new Thanksgiving tradition, were altered for just this year. So, for this year, it’s looking like it’s going to be just Mark and I, it seems and I am torn. I want to have the full spread, but, making a full Thanksgiving feast for just the two of us, is a lot of work. It feels excessive and maybe a little wasteful and if I am being totally truthful, I am not sure I have it in me this year.
I have been instead playing around with the idea of donating my time and my efforts this year to those more in need. We eat feasts in our home nearly daily, meanwhile there are people right here in our very neighborhood that are without food, they aren’t sure where their next meal will come from, they don’t know how they are going to nourish themselves and their children. It’s not that I have guilt or shame over what I have, rather I want to channel my gratitude into helping others that aren’t as fortunate. I am on the hunt for the means to do so here in Southern California, I may just make as much food as I can the day before Thanksgiving and on the morning of, get into my car, drive around and hand it out to whomever I can find. More importantly I have been working on preparing Mark for the idea of a scaled down meal, for just us two.
I have truly been enjoying conceptualizing what this year’s menu could look like and I am really embracing the idea of new traditions. New renditions of the classic dishes. Keeping it easy and modest. After a trial run with this recipe, I now know that this Roasted Turkey Breast Roulade with Grain-free Herbed Sausage Stuffing will absolutely be the star of our Tiny Thanksgiving show. For large gatherings, this is also a wonderful option to bring additional white meat to the large, whole bird, which it seems often there is never enough of (though I am not sure I understand that, gimme all the leg meat, always).
While this roulade may appear fancy in it’s appearance and name, it’s a cinch to throw together. I also love that it combines the classic main dish in a unique approach. Listen we aren’t going so far out there, it’s not as if you are trying to serve a roast ham or some kind of fish to your guests, we’re not talking Tofurkey here, just an unexpected interpretation of the typical standard fare. In my opinion, when you are keeping things fresh in the kitchen, you are keeping things fun.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, grass-fed butter or ghee
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- ⅓ cup almond flour
- 12 oz pork breakfast sausage (pasture-raised, locally sourced, if possible)
- 3.5 - 5 lb Turkey breast, boneless, skin on, trimmed and butterflied*
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, ghee or olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons grass-fed butter (ghee or olive oil)
- 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup white wine (or additional stock)
- 2 tablespoon cassava flour, rice flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 2 cups chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade
- 2 springs fresh thyme
- 2 fresh sage leaves
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF with the rack in the center position. Liberally butter a small roasting pan.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, butter or ghee, once warmed add celery, onion, and garlic, and sauté 8 to 10 minutes until vegetables are slightly soft and onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan and add to a large mixing bowl. Add the sausage to the pan, adding a bit more oil, if necessary. Cook the sausage breaking it into small bits, stirring frequently, until barely browned but still slightly raw in the center, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the large mixing bowl.
- Add the fresh herbs to the veggies and sausage, along with the almond flour.
- Mix until thoroughly combined. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Rinse and dry off the turkey breast and place skin side down on a clean cutting board or work surface. If necessary, use a meat tenderizer to flatten the breast into a large even surface area.
- Season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Spread the stuffing mixture evenly over the surface, leaving a 1" border at edges. Starting at shortest edge, gently roll breast up and over stuffing, like a jelly roll. Place seam-side down and tie securely with kitchen twine.
- Transfer to the prepared roasting pan, brush with the melted butter, ghee or olive oil. Season liberally with sea salt and black pepper.
- Roast 12–15 minutes per pound until interior temperature in thickest part of breast registers 155°. Remove from oven, tent loosely with foil and rest 15 minutes. Reserve the pan and it's drippings for gravy.
- Make the Gravy: While the roasting pan is still hot, add the wine and whisk to release any of the drippings and the brown bits. Pour into a bowl and set aside. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add the butter (ghee or olive oil), drop in the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add to the pan the reserved liquid, wine and brown bits from the roasting pan. Reduce down slightly and adjust the heat to low. Add the flour and stir until the roux has become golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the fresh herbs and the chicken (or turkey) stock to the saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the gravy has reduced to about 1 cup and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Season with salt and pepper.
- Untie the turkey breast and slice crosswise into ½-inch to 1-inch slices. Serve with gravy.
Looking for some help in rolling your roulade? Check out this video from Saveur.