Recipes Main Courses Poultry and Game Turkey Breast Stuffed with Sage and Pancetta

Turkey Breast Stuffed with Sage and Pancetta

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Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 170 minutes
Servings: 10 to 12

This roasted boneless turkey breast with a light pan sauce can be carved in the kitchen or at the table, making it a perfect dish for a dinner party. You can ask your butcher to bone the breast for you, or you can do it yourself. In either case, save the bones for the stockpot, and save the skin in one large piece for wrapping around the turkey to keep it moist as it roasts.


For the stuffing:

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 3 or 4 pancetta slices, about 2 oz. (60 g) total, coarsely
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 5 Tbs. (1/2 oz./15 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage, plus 4 or 5 small leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • 1 skin-on, bone-in turkey breast, 3 1/2 to 4 lb. (1.75 to 2 kg)
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup (5 fl. oz./150 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


To make the stuffing, in a fry pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and pancetta and cook until the onion is completely softened, 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool. Add the ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, vinegar and chopped sage. Season with salt and pepper. Set the stuffing aside.

Preheat an oven to 325°F (165°C). Oil a small flat roasting rack and place it in a roasting pan just large enough to hold the turkey breast.

To bone the turkey breast, working from one side of the breast, loosen the skin with your fingers and gently pull off in one piece. Using a sharp knife, cut through the wishbone and then down along one side of the breastbone, scraping the meat from the ribs to free it. Repeat on the other side of the breastbone. Pat the breast halves dry with paper towels. Place the breast halves, cut side up, and side by side. Locate the white tendon on each breast half, then remove by holding the tendon and scraping away the meat. Fold out each tenderloin but do not detach.

Lay the skin, inner side up, on the work surface and place one breast half, cut side up, on top of it. Distribute the sage leaves over the meat, then spread the stuffing over the meat. Top with the other breast half, cut side down. Bring up the skin around the 2 halves. Using kitchen string, make parallel ties around the roll at 3 or 4 regular intervals, then tie a piece of string lengthwise around the roll to form a compact loaf-shaped roll. Place the roll on the rack. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roll registers 160°F (71°C), about 2 1/2 hours. Transfer the roll to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, set the roasting pan over medium-high heat, pour in the broth and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan. Stir in the cream, place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the cream mixture, bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep the sauce warm.

To serve the turkey, remove the lengthwise string. Cut the turkey into slices 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick, removing the remaining strings as you carve, and place on warmed individual plates. Spoon some of the sauce over the slices and pass the remaining sauce at the table. Serves 10 to 12.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Roasting, by Rick Rodgers, Melanie Barnard, Bob & Coleen Simmons, Tori Ritchie and Amanda Haas (Oxmoor House, 2009).

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