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Turkey Ballentine PDF Print E-mail

Whether you call this dish ballentine or galantine, you end up with a Turkey that has been de-boned, then seasoned, stuffed and then-rolled to create a wonderful and a terrific main course for any holiday event. We have actually served this preparation to some of our guests. The process is laborious and complicated but the end result is incredible. A word of warning this preparation is not for the timid. Please read the entire recipe before starting.

Yields: Main course for 20-25 guests.


1 14-17 lb. Turkey fresh preferably, de-frosted properly if not.
Salt and pepper
dry thyme, rosemary, and parsley

Vegetables for roasting with the turkey
3 carrots, 1 inch diced
3 stalks celery, 1 inch diced
2 large yellow onions, rough diced
10 cloves peeled garlic
1-2 qts. chicken stock (canned is fine)

Vegetable and herb stuffing
This stuffing can be used in a number of applications. The stuffing could also be made a day ahead if time is a concern.)
¼ c. olive oil
15 cloves peeled garlic chopped
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 yellow crookneck squash, diced
1 zucchini squash, diced
1 c. basil leaves
2-3 T. dry thyme
2-3 T. dry rosemary
2-3 T. dry parsley (see note below)
2 c. chicken stock
5 eggs
1 lb. Ground turkey
1 lb. Bread crumbs for stuffing
salt and pepper

In a saucepan, sweat onions and garlic until translucent (3-5 minutes, mine’s faster than yours), add red and yellow bell peppers and cook for 3-5 minutes. Then add yellow squash and zucchini and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add all herbs and remove from heat. Now combine vegetables, stock, eggs, ground turkey, and bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Vigorously mix to combine, season with salt and pepper, set aside.

De-boning the turkey
Defrost turkey according to the directions or purchase a fresh turkey. I recommend fresh turkeys, as you don’t have to worry about the several days it could take for a frozen turkey to defrost. The key to deboning is keeping the knife against the bones to free the maximum amount of meat. The result is a large single piece in tact with two symmetrical sides held together by the outside skin.

Lay the turkey on a cutting board with the breast side down and the legs facing towards you. With a sharp boning knife, make an incision down the spine of the turkey. Beginning with the right side, or left if you are left-handed. Keeping the edge of the knife against the bones, begin making small cuts and pulling the meat away, working from the spine down to the breast and from the neck to the tail. The skin will eventually flop down and as you cut away the cartilage around the leg/hip joint, you will be left with a leg and a wing on that side. Make an incision along the leg bone and again, with a series of small cuts and pulling the skin away from the bone, extract the leg bone. Then, for the wing, cut off the tip at the first joint away from the breast, and extract the bone as you just did for the leg. Rotate the turkey 180 degrees so you can work on the opposite side. When you are finished, you can make turkey stock for a flavorful soup base or as a gravy base for this dish..

Place the turkey now on a cutting board covered with a double lining of plastic wrap. This very important as it will aid in the transfer of the finished turkey. Next, you want to achieve a flat surface by distributing some of the meat. Remove the tenderloins from the top of each breast and place on the flatter section of the tail area. Trim the leg and wing meat and place it along the center in between the two breasts. Season the surface by rubbing in the salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Spread stuffing down the center of the turkey in a column about 6 inches wide. Be generous with the stuffing, but you may not need to use all of it. The balance of the stuffing can be baked separately in a baking dish.

Roll the turkey from left to right by folding it in thirds. Fold in one third then again in one third and the seam should be facing down. Imagine folding a piece of paper into thirds to fit into a long envelope, except you are folding from left to right.

Rolling and tying the turkey
Use the following instructions to tie up the turkey. Remember the goal is to create a uniform piece of meat that will hold together after braising in the pan. As you tie up the turkey using this method you can go back to areas that may be cumbersome and use individual ties for holding together these areas. You may also want to push some of the stuffing back in that may have come out. Using butcher twine, run an uncut piece of string from the bolt under the turkey from the neck to the tail, with a 10-inch portion left hanging out from under the tail. Taking the string still attached to the bolt at the neck in your right hand, pull off the bolt enough to get easily around the turkey. Take the string that you are still holding (the end of the 10 inches) in your right and hold the same string at the neck in your left hand. Bring your hands together. Place the string that is in your left hand into your right hand, on top of the portion of string in your right hand, creating an X shape with a loop underneath. Keep this X shape pinched in your right hand while drawing the loop around the top neck portion of the bird. After tucking it under the bird, relax your grip on the X and pull the string that is attached to the bolt towards you to make a tight band around the top of the turkey. Go through this process again to make another loop, but as you draw the loop around the top of the turkey, pull it down about 1½ inches past the first loop to create the second band. Continue making loops and bands until the entire turkey is completely wrapped and uniform.

Roasting the Turkey
Lift the turkey with the double wrapped plastic wrap. Place in roasting pan surrounded by the carrots, celery, and onion. Once in the pan remove the plastic wrap. Pour chicken stock over contents of roasting pan. Place in oven and baste every half-hour after the first hour of cooking. Turkey is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Finishing the Turkey
The turkey will need at least 20-30 minutes to rest before being sliced. This will allow the turkey to hold together. You will need a very sharp knife to slice this turkey and just prior to slicing and serving the strings should be removed. Place the sliced turkey on a platter so that the slices are clear and all the work to arrange the turkey can be seen. Surround the turkey with some roasted vegetables and drizzle with gravy or pan juices.

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