Turkey Ballotine with Fresh Sage and Garlic Jus

Oct 6, 2009 at 8:18 p.m. ET

Treat your guests to something different this Thanksgiving! This roasted turkey ballotine recipe is ideal for serving a crowd.

Ballotines, however labor-intensive, are an ideal way to serve lots of guests, as there are no bones or tricky carving angles to deal with. They are also very showy in their classic cylindrical shape. Although ballotines are generally braised or poached, my version is slowly roasted.


16-pound turkey, deboned (reserve carcass and giblets)
1 large head plus 5 cloves garlic
2 large bunches fresh sage


Early in the day, prepare turkey broth. Place turkey carcass in large heavy pot. Add giblets (except liver), and wing tips. Add cold water to cover; 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns; 1 head unpeeled garlic, cut in half horizontally; and 6 sage sprigs. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam. Lower heat to medium and cook for 2 hours, skimming periodically.

Discard carcass and giblets. Strain broth through large fine-mesh sieve, pressing softened garlic through sieve. Place strained broth in large clean pot. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until broth is reduced to 6 cups. Set aside.

To prepare ballottine

Remove skin from turkey thighs and reserve. Cut meat into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes. You will have about 4 cups weighing about 1 1/2 pounds. Place diced turkey in bowl. Finely chop enough sage to make 1/2 packed cup. Add to diced turkey. Push 4 cloves garlic through garlic press and add to diced turkey with 1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well and let sit while you preheat oven.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Lay boned breast flat, flesh side up, on large cutting board or clean flat surface. Position it so there is clearly a lobe to your left and a lobe to your right. Butterfly breast meat so that breast lobes lie flat. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place diced turkey mixture across lobes, parallel to your waist, in a long sausage shape in center of turkey breast. You want the mixture to go from end to end. Roll up tightly like a jelly roll. Use reserved thigh skin, if necessary, to cover any exposed meat.

Tie string tightly around rolled breast at 1-inch intervals. You will have a ballottine that is about 16 inches long. Also tie string around length of breast. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Place ballottine in large shallow roasting pan. Add 1/2 cup broth to pan. Bake for 50 minutes. Baste with pan juices and place turkey wings and turkey legs in pan. Add 1/2 cup broth. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads 140 degrees to 145 degrees. Remove pan from oven. Transfer ballottine, wings, and legs to large platter. Ballottine will continue to cook.

Add 5 1/2 cups broth to roasting pan, scraping up all the brown pieces. Skim fat and strain through sieve into clean pot. Add 1 small clove garlic pushed through garlic press. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until reduced to 3 cups.

Remove all strings from turkey. Cut ballottine into thin slices and serve with wings, legs, and hot garlic jus. Garnish with sage sprigs.