Maple Brined Ancho-Scallion Boneless Turkey Breast with Apple-Butter Pecan Stuffing - Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Maple Brined Ancho-Scallion Boneless Turkey Breast with Apple-Butter Pecan Stuffing

November 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Breads, Daring Cooks, Dinner, Holiday, Poultry, Vegetables | 56 Comments
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Damn, I thought Thanksgiving was the 29th because Thanksgiving is usually the last Thursday in November.  Oh, boy, this is the trick of the trick or treat for real – the ultimate “Ha ha…you better get your ass in gear!” moment.  I think Hurricane Sandy left me a little off-kilter, but I’ll get to that later.


You see, for this month’s Daring Cook’s challenge, which is all about brining meat and/or vegetables, then roasting, which  I’m late to as usual, I decided to brine a whole turkey breast, then layer it with more flavors – like a compound butter rub, then stuff, roll, and tie it for a lovely Thanksgiving treat for those who don’t want to roast a whole turkey.

Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host. Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!

I didn’t have a bowl or bag big enough to fit the turkey breast and brine, see left, so I ended up using a huge pot..right.

Well, well, well..this is dinner Friday night, the 16th, and in less than one week..we will have turkey again, a whole 20 lb turkey.  Because of this turkey breast,  I would love to just roast some chickens and be done with it.

“Why did you buy such small turkeys?”  Okay, no one in my family is that dumb.

There’s no way I can break tradition here, so more turkey it is.  Yippee.

I love to brine meat, from chicken to pork chops and I most always brine turkeys. The well-seasoned juicy factor from brining is simply amazing and I can’t think of another method that can give you meat this juicy, unless Thomas Keller is in your kitchen. (Ha ha!  I just read the Thomas Keller/Juicy Meat blurb again and realized how it sounds!)

This turkey breast is so loaded with flavor, I don’t know how I can match it and I wish I could make it again for Thanksgiving.  First you’ve got the salty maple, brown sugar brine with bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns seasoning it to perfection.  Then you have an ancho pepper-scallion-garlic butter rub beneath and on top of the skin.  The stuffing is the crème de la crème, with apples, buttered and toasted pecans and of course..the usual sauté of onions, herbs and whatever else you want to add to your ‘custom’ mirepoix.  It’s not always celery, carrots and onions IF you don’t want it to be.

No rules!

Oh, what are ancho peppers?  Ancho peppers are dried poblano peppers and they taste like spicy raisins, but impart such a lovely, slightly spicy/smoky undertone to dishes. You can find them in plastic packages in many supermarkets.

I nixed celery.  I almost always nix celery in stuffing, or just add a small amount.  I like celery raw and crisp, but I don’t flip over it cooked.  I don’t think it adds much to dishes flavor wise when cooked, except chicken soup..and that’s only because I’m superstitious and believe it’s part of the secret penicillin that makes you feel better.

Tied up and roasted, this turkey breast is a picnic on the palate (did I really just type that?  Boy, I’m worse off than I thought) and as juicy as a warm peach right off the tree (Did I really type that too?) so all you really need is a side of mashed potatoes and a vegetable.

Of course you can add as many sides as you want  (I cannot have Thanksgiving without candied sweet potatoes).  There will be extra stuffing, but use any stuffing you like for this roast.  I’m just giving you the recipe for mine because I think it’s perfect for this rolled turkey breast, even though I saturated it with chicken stock so the breast would be easier to roll.

By the way, I know I say this a lot, but I’m going to say it again and I can’t say it enough. This is the best stuffed turkey breast I’ve ever had in my life.  You know when something tastes so good that no matter how full you are, you keep eating it?  This is one of those.

Who says ugly can’t be delicious?  I’ve had ‘beautiful’ that’s flavorless or tastes like pond scum, or how I imagine pond scum would taste.

Okay, a GASP moment.  Once again, this turkey breast is so juicy due to brining, it doesn’t need gravy, the holy grail of Thanksgiving.  But, you could make a pan gravy out of the drippings with some butter, flour, white wine and/or stock, because I’m sure at least one person might protest.  In fact, several did here, so I made it.  They poured over the mashed potatoes only because, like I mentioned, this turkey doesn’t need it.

Finally, I’m extremely disappointed that it turned out so ugly.  Sloppy rolling on my part, plus I should have pounded it a little more before stuffing and rolling.  Regardless, I’m sure yours will be beautiful!

Maple Brined, Ancho-Scallion Boneless Turkey Breast with Apple-Butter Pecan Stuffing

Maple Brine
3 quarts water
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup kosher salt
2 turkish bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 garlic cloves, sliced
One 3 to 3 1/2 lb whole, boneless turkey breast with skin, butterflied, if necessary, and pounded to about 1/2-inch to 1-inch thickness.

If you can’t find a whole, rolled,boneless turkey breast with skin in your meat section, buy a whole turkey and have the butcher cut it off for you (which is what I did..using the rest of the turkey for roasted legs and stock)..or do it yourself if you feel comfortable.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Bring all the ingredients, except the turkey breast, to a boil in a pot on the stove..until sugar is dissolved. Let cool completely, then refrigerate until cold.

2.  Pour brine into a pot or gallon bag and add turkey breast.  Let brine in the refrigerator 4 to 6 hours…no more than 8!

4.  Remove turkey breast from brine and rinse well under cold, running water.  Pat completely dry and continue with recipe.

Ancho-Scallion Butter Rub
Adapted from Food and Wine
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ancho peppers, stemmed and seeded
6 scallions, chopped
2 garlic cloves
Kosher salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a small skillet, toast the ancho chiles until they just start to blister, about 4 minutes. Place the chiles to a small bowl and pour boiling water on top of them to cover. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

2. In a food processor, combine the chiles, butter, garlic and the chopped scallions and purée until smooth. Season well with salt and pepper. Carefully loosen the turkey breast skin and rub half of the ancho-scallion butter over the breast meat.  I decided not to loosen the turkey skin since I didn’t want to risk tearing it.  You need the skin to cover as much as the breast as possible when rolling it, so I rubbed some on the pounded breast meat before spreading the stuffing on top.  Let sit until ready to stuff, roll and tie.

Butter Pecan – Apple Stuffing
6 tablespoons of butter, divided 4 and 2.
A few leaves of fresh sage, julienned
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
1/4 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 leek, cleaned well and chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 to 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
5 cups day old bread of your choice (I used ciabatta, crusts removed), hand torn or cut into 2-inch cubes. If not a day old, oven-dry at 200F for about an hour, after tearing or cutting into cubes.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Stir together chopped pecans and 1/4 cup melted butter. Spread in an even layer on a parchment lined sheet pan. Bake at 350° for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring them round once half way through. until pecans are toasted (you’ll be able to smell them). Remove from oven, and let cool.

Alternatively, In a pan or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add pecans and cook until toasted and fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. Spread across sheet of foil or parchment to cool.

2.  Place bread cubes or pieces in a large bowl. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan and add the onions, leeks and garlic.  Saute until soft.  Pour on top of bread.  Melt two tablespoons of butter in the same pan and sauté the apples until lightly browned.  Add the herbs and sauté for another two minutes.  Scrape it all into bowl with the bread, onions, leeks and garlic.  Stir in buttered pecans.

3.  Stir together chicken broth or stock and cream.  Warm in a pot on the stove,. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then pour over stuffing mixture in bowl.  IMPORTANT – the juices from the turkey will moisten the stuffing, so if you like a really moist stuffing, add all the chicken broth-cream mixture like I did, which makes the turkey breast easier to roll.  If not, add liquid until it’s the consistency you prefer, and use less in the turkey.

4.  Let cool completely before stuffing turkey breast ( I refrigerate it for 1 hour after it cools to room temperature)..or, you can bake this stuffing on its own.  Spoon into a lightly buttered baking dish, cover with buttered foil, and bake in a 350 F preheated oven for about 35 minutes, then remove foil and bake for 10-15 minutes more to brown the top.  Since you will have leftover stuffing, you’ll need to do this anyway.

ASSEMBLE:
1.  Make sure the two breasts attached to the skin are pounded flat enough that they come together.  I recommend you have someone really strong or your butcher do this because I had a hell of a time and never got them pounded together or as  flat as I wanted, not to mention, my arm still hurts.

2.  Skin side down, rub the meat with half the ancho-scallion butter, then spread about two to three cups of stuffing all over the meat…pushing it to about 1-inch from the ends of the pounded meat.  Make sure you don’t spread it to the skin, since it will ooze out when you roll it.  Some will ooze out anyway..but don’t worry about it.

3.  From the long end..start to roll the breast, pulling the skin so it covers as you roll.  It won’t cover completely, but that’s ok.  Once rolled as much as you can roll it without losing half your stuffing…using cotton twine, tie the roast at 1 to 2-inch intervals.  There are various methods of doing this…like THIS and THIS, but since my stuffing was oozing and the skin wasn’t covering completely, I just made simple double knot ties 2-inches apart, using about 6 pieces of long twine.  To make it more secure, I also tied it vertically by taking an extra long piece of twine and weaving it through the horizontal ties on both sides….tying both ends of the twine together, tightly, on one end.  Preheat oven to 400F.

3.  Place rolled turkey breast on a lightly oiled rack in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet covered with foil.  Rub the tied roast..all over..top and bottom, lifting as you go along, with the remaining ancho – scallion butter.

4.  Place on the middle rack of your oven, and roast for 20 minutes, or until it starts to brown.  Reduce the temperature to 350F and roast for another 35 to 40 minutes or until an instant read thermometer registers 155 degrees F in the middle.  If not stuffing the breast…roast until it registers 145 degrees F.

5.  Let rolled breast sit for 20 minutes before slicing..then slice into about 1/2 to 1-inch slices and arrange on a platter.  Enjoy!


Now to Hurricane Sandy, originally dubbed ‘Frankenstorm’.  By now you know the devastation it caused throughout the Northeast.  We were lucky, since we’re up on the Palisades, so the water couldn’t touch us, but it was scary.  Branches and god knows what else were slamming against the side of my house hard and fast.  There were even points where I could feel the whole house shake, like it was going to be lifted off its foundation.  I kept waiting for a tree to come through the roof, but thankfully, none did.

We were also lucky that we didn’t lose power for good.  We had sporadic power losses, but by midnight, our power stayed on for good.  The other side of my town lost power for almost two weeks.

However…the devastation around me and down the shore was of a magnitude I still can’t believe and it’s heartbreaking.  Two friends did have trees smash down on their roofs and the sides of their houses, and in the weeks since the hurricane, I’m still hearing of friends whose houses were destroyed or battered to the point of being unlivable, especially old friends who live on the Jersey Shore.

Speaking of the Jersey Shore..my heart is broken.  Seaside Heights, the place where my Bad Boy First Love Story began and spanned, and the place of so many wonderful memories, is gone as I knew it.  Yes they will rebuild, but to those of us who grew up spending summers at the shore..it will never be the same.  Most of Seaside was built before I was even born..including the over 100 year old carousel on the Casino Pier, which is gone forever.

At the top of this page in the right sidebar..I’ve provided a link to donate money to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy via the Red Cross.  Here are some other places you can donate to..

The Mayor’s Fund

AmeriCares

Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund

United Way Sandy Recovery Fund

The Humane Society of the United States

Donations will be needed for a long, long time, so I urge you to give what you can.  Any amount of money will help.

Speaking of the Jersey Shore...several people read my last draft of the last part of Bad Boy First Love and all agreed everything was squished together in short spurts to try to end it.  “Needs more details” was the general consensus.  SO, I’m adding more details and there’s a good possibility the ‘end’ will come in two parts, so part 18 may not be the very last (Oy Ve, right?)  I will have part 18 up early next week at the latest.  Thanks so much for your patience and understanding.

Finally, thank to Audax for a great Daring Cooks challenge (Sorry it’s 4 days late!).  To see what my fellow Daring Bakers brined and roasted, click on the links to their blogs, HERE.  To see the recipes and read about the method of brining meats and vegetables, along with charts. click HERE.

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  1. Beautiful and so moist! That is an awesome challenge. Well done Lisa!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Turkey Breast can be dry but yours has so much moisture. It looks delicious – wish I could have some right now. Your photos are great and really show the details of your dish. Great job and Happy Thanksgiving :).

  3. It’s pretty early this year, right? Caught me a little off guard too. But this looks so delicious, I don’t think anyone would mind having any variation of this turkey dish again and again!

  4. I don’t recall seeing many turkey breasts but undoubtedly your one beats the dry and cranky ones in the store! What an intense recipe :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  5. Great flavor combinations.

  6. Um, wow. That is totally drool-worthy. I wish I could have a taste. Or, like, half of it… SO amazing. The brine, the stuffing – just… wow. Totally worth the wait.

  7. Absolutely beautiful!! I love maple so much, and this is a brilliant brine. :-)

  8. Happy Thanksgiving! I’m going to a Thanksgiving dinner for the first time EVER on Thursday…hopefully they’ll feed us something like this ;-)

  9. That is truly gorgeous, Lisa. And I am so sorry to hear about Seaside Heights. I’ve already donated to the Red Cross.

  10. Where do I start? How about with: WOW! Juicy and amazing, Lisa. You nailed this challenge and I wish you were making this for me for Thursday. Lucky D!! That stuffing and the spice-just love it all of it. xx

  11. Wow, Lisa!! I envy (in a good way, please!) your creativity in the kitchen. This turkey breast looks and sounds divine! Happy Thanksgiving!!

  12. I understand your confusion on the date…I did the same thing too! Thankfully I was at work with my boss and got it handled as I had asked off all the wrong dates! It was a blessing I hadn’t actually booked the plane tickets I had reserved, or my kids would be missing a week of school the week after Thanksgiving! I am in awe of this storm, so glad you fared well. I’ll be eating hotel food all week, but with my entire family. Enough booze and even Holiday Inn can make me dinner!

  13. Lisa…this looks AMAZEBALLS. For real girl, I have never wanted to eat turkey so badly. You did awesome.

  14. You did a lovely job on this challenge and the photos are marvellous as usual. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  15. Wow, that is one gorgeous turkey breast! If it makes you feel any better, it took me a long time to wrap my brain around the fact that Thanksgiving was so early this year. I’m glad you came out of the storm relatively unscathed, but am sorry to hear about your friends’ misfortune.

  16. This looks amazing!!! Pinned it:) It is a definite must try.

  17. The rub and stuffing sound just amazing. Great presentation too! I have never brined meat…got to do it. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  18. FINALLY someone braves the wild and wanders off the reservation if traditional holiday cooking. I swear Lisa I tried, tried tried this year. I looked in three stores for a prime rib for Thanksgiving this year and uh yello not one! Go figure.
    I ended up with a regular turkey but you can bet your booties Im going to be brining the smackers off that thing.
    I just think Im gonna have to try this one.
    Yes,,, yes I think I may.

  19. Hi again Lisa, sorry, I was on a trip yesterday when I read your post and internet access was a bit difficult, So I didn’t read the second part of your post before leaving my comment on your wonderful recipe.
    So sorry to hear about all the damage the hurricane has caused. It’s even more heart-breaking to hear it from a friend. I’m happy that you were not seriously affected, It’s a relief. I will be donating to the Red Cross.
    Hope things can get better soon.

  20. This turkey sounds amazing… especially that stuffing. I’m glad you’re OK, but my heart goes out to you for all that you lost… at least you will always have those memories. I’ve already donated a little to the Red Cross. I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

  21. What an incredible crust on the turkey breast. Gorgeous shots. YUMMM! Enjoyed the read, Lisa….
    :)
    V

  22. Holy smokes Lisa, does that turkey ever sound good! Maple and ancho and pecans are some of my favorite things…

  23. Well, although Thankgiving caught you off guard this turkey looks absolutely delicious with the wonderful filling and the golden crust!

  24. Lisa you did a beautiful job on this and so much work! It is so moist! Wishing everyone a quick recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

  25. That looks so incredibly juicy and delicious!

  26. Holy Moly Mother of Turkey Amazingness. Do you think its too late to scratch my ham and make this instead?! LOVE all the different flavor components here, Lisa! This looks to die for!!

  27. You have every right to say that this is the best turkey ever!
    It looks juicy and loaded with flavor. I am glad you made it through sandy without any trees going through the roof..it must have been a terribly scary experience

  28. I always brine my turkey and I am LOVING this recipe. The rub (O.M.G.) and stuffing as well. Fabulous. Glad you were OK after Sandy. My childhood home on a barrier island in Long Beach was devastated. It’s so hard to believe. Thanks for providing those links to donate. You rock.

  29. Yum! That is one juicy looking turkey breast!

  30. oh… my…. goodness!! That looks amazing Lis! Far from ugly! I also love the apple butter pecan stuffing! Love the mix of sweet and savoury! So delish! What a great recipe Lis!! :)

  31. OMG Lisa, this alone makes me willing to swim over the ocean and walk to your house just for a couple of slices of this (with your candied sweet potatoes)! Absolutely fabulous! I LOVE sweet and spicy and savory together and you have it all in spades and more! Amazing! So tell me why you aren’t running your own restaurant?!

  32. This looks SO good. I’ve got it pinned, and thinking of trying it with a whole chicken breast. I couldn’t stomach anymore turkey right now!

  33. I made this for Thanksgiving Day since no one really likes dark meat here. One word..WOW! Like you said you can’t stop eating it no matter how full you are because the melange of flavors is just OTT awesome! Super juicy too! Girl, you have got the flavor wheel down pat! Thank you!

  34. [...] Maple-Brined, Ancho-Scallion Boneless Turkey Breast with Apple – Butter Pecan Stuffing (parsleysagesweet.com) [...]

  35. Hubby and I did a brine on our turkey for the first time this year, and then smoked it! I wanted to take pictures, but the skin is so dark from smoking it….it was not pretty LOL! Your recipe is beyond gorgeous! I love that you deboned it, and rolled it up. What a great idea, and the flavors….OH MY LAND!!!! Hugs, Terra

  36. My boyfriend and i had pizza for thanksgiving..long story. I saw this on pinterest and decided to make it for dinner saturday night….. brined it saturday morning. I couldnt find ancho peppers so I used a 2 canned chipotles. It is incredible! We can’t wait to have it for lunch today!

    • Thanks, Audrey..so glad you liked it! It is pretty amazing :) I need t try it with chipotles!

  37. This looks amazing!

  38. The name lone makes me salivate for this turkey! I’ve had my eyes peeled for a good turkey breast recipe…sounds like I’ve found it! Thanks!

    I’m so sorry for the loss and devastation your friends and others have suffered due to the storm. Also, for your bad experiences with the storm; but I’m glad to hear you lucked out fairly well, considering.

  39. I’m drooling at the combination of spicy, sweet and savory in your turkey breast. The stuffing looks so yummy!

  40. Oh, wow! This turkey looks so flavorful and extremely moist! I bet it as really delicious.

  41. Happy Thanksgiving Lisa! And that is one helluva gorgeous looking rolled turkey breast-look at that luscious filling and meat!

  42. A divine creation! I love to savour this tasty feast! I love ti-urkey & I love the -filling too! So good! MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! A heavenly creation too!

  43. Looks beautiful your turkey breast…I love that at the end of the dinner you do not have a “naked” turkey with all the bones exposed on the table. Beautifully done Lisa!
    Have a wonderful week ahead :)

  44. Wow, this turkey breast looks delicious and the stuffing is super creative!

  45. Now that Thanksgiving is over, I hope I can find turkey breast and make this dish. Definitely bookmarking it for future reference.

  46. This looks amazing, and your stuffing sounds out-of-this-world incredible!
    Just remember; Thanksgiving is always on the third Thursday:)
    Please don’t tell me I missed the last installment of your story?!? I had my dad over (he has dementia) which took me away from blogging and am now travelling, and I can’t find the end(?) though I have tried! I will make another attempt right now…

  47. Lisa, this is really a fabulous combination of flavors and textures. I am so over turkey (even though we only had it once this year), but this recipe makes it interesting and moist and it is beautiful to serve. Turkey breast might win out over ham for Christmas. :-)

  48. Hi Lisa, glad to hear you got through hurricane Sandy alright but sad to hear about the trail of destruction.

    As usual, you pulled off the challenge with incredible flair. (Been so busy I’ve kind of dropped out of DB). Might have a go at this for Christmas if I can find turkey :)

  49. Hi Lisa, I’ve been meaning to comment sooner, but so many things have happened since Thanskgiving…although I did visit your blog…drooled over-and over your exquisit, amazing, super delicious boneless breast stuffed turkey breast. Such a ‘work of art’ and a ‘labor of love'; just can’t get over all the preparation you went through, first brining, then the rub, the amazing apple-butter-pecan stuffing! Abslutely divine, gorgeous, to ‘die for’ elegant turkey feast:)

    Did I describe it well enough?…cause that’s how I really feel about this, and of course the beautiful photos. xoxo

  50. Well, it’s December and, according to a news report I heard last week, there are still people without power in Jersey :( Lisa, I totally thought of you and the memories you have of Jersey Shore summers. We donated to Red Cross and my heart goes out to all the people trying to put their lives back together. On another note, I cooked a turkey breast for Thanksgiving and didn’t get very creative – maybe I’ll do another one for Christmas. Hope your holidays are fun and festive!

  51. Well, it’s December and, according to a news report I heard last week, there are still people without power in Jersey Lisa, I totally thought of you and the memories you have of Jersey Shore summers. We donated to Red Cross and my heart goes out to all the people trying to put their lives back together. On another note, I cooked a turkey breast for Thanksgiving and didn’t get very creative – maybe I’ll do another one for Christmas. Hope your holidays are fun and festive!

  52. [...] For more details please visit this link : lisamichele [...]

  53. […] brined ancho-scallion Boneless Turkey Breast with apple-butter pecan stuffing, via Parsley, Sage & […]

  54. I’m using a 9 lb turkey. How long should I brine it for?

  55. Hi, Suzan :) Is it a 9 pound boneless turkey breast, or are you referring to the whole turkey weight wise?
    ————–
    For a 9 lb boneless breast, I would let it brine overnight, 12 hours about. For a whole 9 lb turkey, I’d go 16 to 24 hours.


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