The ideal Thanksgiving meal for those of us that are not going to be feeding an army of 30!!

My mother has 7 brothers and sisters, all of whom live within an hour of each other. All of them are married, with children – and all of them actually like each other, and enjoy each other’s company. Our family get-togethers are typically very loud, very crowded, and a LOT of fun (hey, they’re Irish…. cocktail hour starts at 9 am!). So I was raised learning how to prepare a large, elaborate Thanksgiving meal, with all of the trimmings, for anywhere from 60 – 80 people! Unfortunately, this year due to “scheduling conflicts”, my family will be having their celebration the weekend after Thanksgiving – and due to prior engagements, John and I will not be not be able to attend.

So this year, I have no need for my normal 30+ pound turkey, but I do still want my turkey experience – and since John and I have no desire to be faced with 25 pounds of leftover turkey, I plan on making a “scaled down” version of what I have come to know and love as “Thanksgiving”. By preparing a turkey breast, smaller batches of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and veggies, and mini pies for dessert, I won’t have to miss out on any of my favorite foods.

This recipe calls for a total of 3 tablespoons of butter, (Hey, it’s a holiday – indulge a little!!) but you can cut back on that if you so choose. The herb butter and stuffing can be made a day in advance, so in the morning, your workload isn’t so bad.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

4 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and light green parts only, thoroughly rinsed to remove all dirt)

3 cups sliced mixed mushrooms (about 8 ounces)

1/4 cup wheat breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (at room temperature)

1 boneless turkey breast (mine is about 2.5 pounds)

Butcher’s twine for tying up the rolled breast (if you don’t have any and don’t feel like buying it, I have improvised with toothpicks in the past, but the twine does make things easier)

To make the stuffing, melt the butter over medium-high heat, then add the garlic and sauté it for about 30 seconds (make sure not to burn it, or it will become bitter). Add the sliced leeks and sauté until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the sliced mushrooms, increase the heat to high, and cook until soft and all liquid has evaporated (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and add the breadcrumbs, cheese, one teaspoon each of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

To make the herb butter, use a fork to combine the tablespoon of softened butter with 1/2 teaspoon each of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Set aside at room temperature.

For the turkey:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butterfly the turkey breast open with a very sharp knife and place it skin side down on a cutting board. Cover it with plastic wrap, then pound it out lightly with a meat mallet to flatten it a bit and make it an even thickness.

Remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the turkey breast with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing onto the side without skin and spread it all over, leaving about 3/4-inch on each edge. Roll the turkey breast up as tightly as possible, finishing with the skin side up (towards you).

Rub the entire top surface with the herb butter, placing some butter under the skin, if possible. Using butcher’s twine, tie up the turkey breast to keep its shape while roasting. Place the stuffed turkey breast on a roasting pan or on a baking rack that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Roast the breast, uncovered, until the stuffed turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, (about 1 1/2 hours). [Check the turkey about halfway through and cover it with a piece of foil if the top begins to get too brown].

Once it has finished, remove from the oven and let it sit, covered with foil, for about 15–20 minutes before slicing. Snip off the butcher’s twine, and serve.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 240 calories, 7g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 11g total carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 34g protein, 239 mg sodium, 100mg cholesterol

  1. LOVE the recipie for the turkey. As a fellow Irish in Ireland, I shall be cooking for 12 on Christmas day but during the holidays the numbers will drop. I love the idea of recreating the whole “Turkey” smell- flavour thing on a smaller scaled down version that is not missing any of the key ingredients. Thanks, agus Nollaig Shona (Merry Christmas in Irish) Val 🙂

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