Sage and rosemary roast turkey breast roll

Coming from a traditional English family turkey with all the trimmings such as stuffing, roast vegetables and Brussels sprouts is a must for me at Christmas. Of course there are plenty of sweet things like deserts and Christmas biscuits too.

A whole turkey is massive and if you’re trying to eat lean this season then it may not be your first choice. In the past,  turkey breast rolls have always turned out very dry, so I spent a lot of time researching timing and techniques to  make the meat as moist as possible.

Firstly, the timing is crucial. Stephanie Alexander, in her Cook’s Companion,  suggest that the recommended time which accompanies most turkey breasts is way too high. Instead suggesting 30 minutes per kilo to be adequate. Stephanie Alexander also highlights the need to rest the meat properly.

Resting meat allows the muscles to relax and all the juices which are trying to escape are then allowed to run back into the flesh. You should always rest a roast for at least half of the cooking time in somewhere warm.  If you have a grill/broiler in a separate compartment above your oven, this is the perfect place to rest meat. The heat from the oven below will have created a warm enough environment. Simply remove the grill rack.

Finally, a technique I picked up from my Dad a few years ago, who in turn pilfered it from a supermarket brochure, is to protect the breast of the turkey with rashes of bacon. The bacon will turn too black and crispy to taste very good, but will impart a lovely smokey flavour into the turkey. If you have dogs, the bacon can then be their Christmas treat. Alex and Kevin love it!

NB. If you have a frozen turkey roll, you will need to begin thawing 48 hours before you plan to cook.

Sage and rosemary roast turkey breast roll

  • 1.5kg turkey breast roll
  • 5 sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 7 shortcut rashes of bacon
  1. Finely chop one of the sage leaves.
  2. Combine the oil, lemon zest, rosemary, chopped sage and garlic. Massage the mixture over the turkey and season the turkey lightly. Lay the remaining sage leaves over the top of the roll.
  3. Place the bacon rashes over the top of the breast, slightly overlapping each slice. Set aside for 1 hour for the flavours to develop.
  4. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  5. Place the turkey on a baking tray and roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes (or 30 minutes per kilo). 10 minutes before the roasting time is up, remove the bacon rashes. When the cooking time is completed, insert a metal skewer or sharp knife  in the thickest part of the turkey and if the juices run clear the cooking process is complete.
  6. Cover the turkey loosely with foil and place in a warm place to rest for 20-30 minutes.

To find other Christmas recipes, follow the Christmas tag.

About Michelle

Michelle is passionate about showing people how easy it is to prepare food that is healthy and packed full of flavour. She has just completed her first recipe book, Healthy Helpings: fast food for fit physiques. She began sharing her love of food in 2007, when she produced two series of the online cooking show ‘Healthy Helpings TV’, making fast food healthy and healthy food fast. In 2008 she competed in bodybuilding as a novice figure shaping competitor and she remains passionate about physique sports. She was a 2009 Australian Masterchef semi-finalist, and contributes articles to Oxygen Magazine Australia. Michelle lives with her husband on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, where she loves to search out new ingredients and food ideas from local farmers markets, health food shops and ethnic grocers, and take her two dogs on long rambles through the vineyards. Find out more about Michelle's book