Coming from a traditional English family, turkey is a must for me at Christmas. A whole turkey is massive and if you’re trying to eat lean then it may not be your first choice. In the past my experience with turkey breast rolls is that they can be very dry, so I spent a lot of time researching timing and techniques to make the meat as moist as possible.
Firstly, the timing is crucial. Stephanie Alexander, in her Cook’s Companion, suggest that the recommended time which accompanies most turkey breasts is way too high. Instead suggesting 30 minutes per kilo to be adequate. Stephanie Alexander also highlights the need to rest the meat properly.
Resting meat allows the muscles to relax and all the juices which are trying to escape are then allowed to run back into the flesh. You should always rest a roast for at least half of the cooking time in somewhere warm. If you have a grill/broiler in a separate compartment above your oven, this is the perfect place to rest meat. The heat from the oven below will have created a warm enough environment. Simply remove the grill rack.
Finally, a technique I picked up from my Dad a few years ago, who in turn pilfered it from a supermarket brochure, is to protect the breast of the turkey with rashes of bacon. The bacon will turn too black and crispy to taste very good, but will impart a lovely smokey flavour into the turkey. If you have dogs, the bacon can then be their Christmas treat. Alex and Kevin love it!
NB. If you have a frozen turkey roll, you will need to begin thawing 48 hours before you plan to cook.
Sage and rosemary roast turkey breast roll
1.5kg turkey breast roll
5 sage leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper
7 shortcut rashes of bacon
Finely chop one of the sage leaves.
Combine the oil, lemon zest, rosemary, chopped sage and garlic. Massage the mixture over the turkey and season the turkey lightly. Lay the remaining sage leaves over the top of the roll.
Place the bacon rashes over the top of the breast, slightly overlapping each slice. Set aside for 1 hour for the flavours to develop.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Place the turkey on a baking tray and roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes (or 30 minutes per kilo). 10 minutes before the roasting time is up, remove the bacon rashes. When the cooking time is completed, insert a metal skewer or sharp knife in the thickest part of the turkey and if the juices run clear the cooking process is complete.
Cover the turkey loosely with foil and place in a warm place to rest for 20-30 minutes.