Rolled Turkey Breast with Pears and Spinach

This dish represents a nice transition from late summer to early fall.  I hate to let go of summer, but I do love the bounty of vegetables in the fall.  Today, I saw perfectly ripe pears at one of our local orchards and decided to build my meal around them.

The stuffing for my turkey breast celebrates the combination of ripe pears and parmigiano cheese.  Chopped spinach is used as the binding agent between the pears and cheese.  I used frozen chopped spinach, blended with some some parsley and a pinch of nutmeg.  The mixture gets spread over the non skin side of a butterflied turkey breast, then pears (peeled and diced) are laid across the top and the whole thing is rolled and roasted.  I like to drape the skin over the whole roast before tying it.

This may seem like a daunting butchering process, but I’ll give you some photos of the technique and you should be able to duplicate it in your kitchen.

I like to brown the breasts on the stovetop before placing in the oven to roast.  This is a sputtery, messy step, and one that can be omitted, but I think it’s necessary to give the browning process a head-start before roasting in the oven.  It’s difficult to achieve the golden brown skin but perfectly cooked meat without first browning on the stovetop.

Our first course tonight is an arugula and pear salad with slivers of parmigiano, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.  Over the top of the salad, I drizzled a touch of aged balsamic vinegar.  The balsamic vinegar is an exotic touch that pairs extremely well with both the pears and parmigiano.

As accompaniments to the turkey breast, I made orzo with butternut squash and sauteed romanesco broccoli with butter and sage.

Rolled Turkey Breast with Pears and Spinach

Serves 10 – 12

2 Boneless Turkey Breasts with Skin (approximately 3 lbs each)

3 10-oz. packages frozen spinach

2 tbls fresh chopped parsley

6 small ripe pears

1 c grated parmigiano

2 sprigs rosemary

1/8 tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbls olive oil

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 c white wine

1/4 c dry sherry

Thaw and squeeze frozen spinach and place in a mixing bowl with the cheese, nutmeg, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

Peel and cube pears and set aside.

Remove the skin from the turkey breasts and set aside.  Lay the meat skin-side down and open up the 2 halves of the breast, slitting and “opening” any thicker sections of the meat to make one large piece of meat of even thickness (as even as possible).

Season each breast on both sides generously with salt and black pepper.

Lay spinach mixture evenly across the breasts and top with peeled, diced pears.

Roll (as best as possible) into a roast and genlty drape with reserved skin.  Tie with kitchen string at evenly-spaced distances across the roast.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (with convection, if you have it).

In a nonstick skillet (or flameproof oven casserole), brown the roasts in olive oil on high heat for about a minute per side.

Transfer to roasting pan or place flameproof casserole in oven.  After it roasts for about 15 minutes, add broth, wine and sherry.  Continue roasting uncovered and basting for another hour or so, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  Let rest at least 10 minutes before removing string and carving.  Serve with pan juices.

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