A March Family Christmas: Roasted Turkey Roulade

Posted December 10, 2015 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Little Women (Dec. 2015) / 1 Comment

As you may recall, we made roasted turkey legs for our Christmas Carol menu this time last year. However, the Marchs’ Christmas turkey features so prominently in Little Women that I decided to pay turkey another visit. This elegant turkey breast roulade (a variation on one I found at The Cozy Apron) is very different from last year’s simplistic recipe. The bread, apples, nuts, and sage are ingredients that the impoverished Marchs could have grown or gathered themselves. When paired with a small amount of luxurious dried cranberries and cider glaze, the dish is elevated to something truly special…and it stretches a simple turkey breast a long way, something a large family like the Marchs would have no doubt appreciated!


Roasted Turkey Roulade

“There never was such a Christmas dinner as they had that day. The fat turkey was a sight to behold, when Hannah sent him up, stuffed, browned, and decorated.”
— Little Women




  • 2 turkey breasts (about 2 lb each), de-boned with skin still on
  • 6 oz french style rolls, torn into bits
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans or hazelnuts, chopped (I used pecans)
  • 1 large or 2 small Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/4″ cubes
  • 1 tbsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • kitchen twine
  • Sweet Spiced Cider Glaze (You can make this by combining 3/4 cup apple cider, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and a pinch of salt together in a saucepan. Whisk to combine. Heat on medium-high, whisking occasionally, until it comes to a boil. Watch it carefully, because if it’s allowed to boil for too long, it can start to foam over the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, continuing to whisk occasionally. It will be slightly thickened. Strain into a glass container and allow to cool completely. It will thicken more as it cools.)

Makes 2 roulades



        1. Preheat your oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and place a wire rack on top. Set aside.
        2. Carefully separate the skin from your turkey breast with your fingers (try to avoid making any holes or tears) and set it aside. Butterfly the breast if necessary.

          Mine came prepackaged and were already butterflied pretty thin. I just had to thin them out in a couple places. This how-to video offers good butterflying visuals.
        3. Place the first breast between two sheets of plastic wrap. Turn it skin side down and pound it thin with a meat mallet until it’s even and about half its original thickness. Repeat the process with your second turkey breast.
        4. To prepare the stuffing, toss your rolls, cranberries, pecans, apples, sage, Italian seasoning, and a 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Pour in your chicken broth and butter, tossing until everything is thoroughly coated.
        5. Remove the plastic wrap from your first turkey breast. Lay it out flat on a cutting board (skin side down) and spread a layer of stuffing evenly across the top, leaving about 1/2″ around the edge uncovered. Starting at the short side of your turkey breast, tuck and roll the entire thing into a spiral. Cut your turkey skin in half and wrap one half as tightly as you can over the top of the roulade without tearing it.

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        6. Cut 4 lengths of kitchen twine. Working one length at a time, hold both ends of the twine and slide the middle under the roulade. Pull the first length of twine along the roulade until it is about 1″ from the far end, then tie it tightly in place with a double knot. Repeat the process for the remaining three lengths of twin, keeping them 1-2″ apart across the entire roulade. Pour 1/3 of your sweet spiced cider glaze into a small cup and set the rest aside. Brush the roulade with cider glaze from the glass and sprinkle on some extra salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

        7. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 for the second turkey breast.
        8. Set the breasts on the wire rack and place the rack in the oven. Cook for 45-60 minutes or until a food thermometer inserted in the center of each roulade reads 160°. If the skin begins to over brown, tuck a piece of tinfoil over the roulade for the rest of the cooking time. When finished, brush with the cider glaze you set aside earlier, making sure to use a clean brush (not the one that was used on the raw turkey). Let the roulades rest for 10-15 minutes while lightly covered in tinfoil before cutting.

          Be careful to discard the strings as you cut the roulade. Leave any parts you don’t eat right away still bound in string, so the roulade doesn’t come apart as you store it.
        9. Serve warm with the remaining cider glaze on the side for drizzling.

          This recipe can actually be made as many as two days ahead of time before roasting (even the glaze can be made ahead!). Once your roulades are bound in twine, just wrap them in plastic wrap and chill in an airtight container until you’re ready to roast. You’ll want to chill the glaze in an airtight container too, warming it in a saucepan just before serving.
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