It's often just me and the wife who get to bathe in the spoils of my recipe development. While I had no problem finding takers to help finish my whole Cajun smoked turkey, if it had been just the two of us, we'd have so much turkey left over that I would never elect to make it in the first place. So I thought it might be nice to have a turkey fit for a festive Thanksgiving meal, but on a smaller scale than a whole bird, resulting in these turkey breasts with a cornbread-cranberry stuffing.
I started with a variation of my favorite cornbread sausage stuffing, replacing sausage with cranberries and pecans. The stuffing was then spread out over two brined and butterflied turkey breasts, which were rolled and tied closed.
The final turkey rolls accomplished everything I hoped to do: the meat was moist and tender thanks to the brine, while the stuffing was rich and flavorful, hitting just the right notes for Thanksgiving dinner. The only problem? Two breasts are really suited for four, but a simple halving of the recipe will fix that right up for two.
About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.
- For the Brine
- 2 quarts ice cold water
- 1/3 cup Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 skinless, boneless turkey breasts
- For the Stuffing
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 cups crumbled cornbread
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped pecans
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
- Type of fire: two-zone indirect
- Grill heat: high
To make the brine, combine water, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk to dissolve. Place turkey breasts in brine and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.
While turkey is brining, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Place onions in a large bowl along with cornbread, cranberries, chicken stock, pecans, sage, 1 teaspoon of salt, and black pepper. Mix to thoroughly combine.
Remove turkey breasts from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Butterfly turkey breasts open and pound out to a rectangle of even thickness. Spread half of the stuffing in an even thickness over each of the breasts, leaving about 1/2 an inch edge with no stuffing. Starting with the long end of the turkey breast, roll tightly into a cylinder. Tie closed with butchers twine about every 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Season turkey breasts all over with salt and pepper and brush lightly with olive oil.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Sear turkey breasts over hot side of grill until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Move turkey to cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the center of the turkey. Remove from grill, let stand for 15 minutes. Slice turkey between each piece of twine, remove twine, and serve.