rolls plated

A couple of years ago, I celebrated a milestone birthday by cooking dinner for my three best friends and their husbands. I made a stuffed pork roast (or as T put it, “pork-stuffed pork wrapped in pork”) that took the better part of a day to create.

It was delicious.

It was also a lot of work. Butterflying, stuffing, then rolling a huge piece of meat is tricky, and the cooking time is way too long for a weeknight meal. So I tucked the recipe — and its accompanying technique — into the special occasions file.

What a mistake.

Butterflying, it turns out, is a perfect way to stretch your mealtime dollars — particularly when you work with smaller cuts of meat. Two boneless chicken breasts suddenly feed four; a single pork tenderloin sates the whole family.

And rolling that meat around a savory filling? Well, that’s just gilding the dinner lily.

A word about technique: Butterflying is a fancy word for “opening up.” Lay your meat flat down on a work surface and place your palm on top of it. Using a sharp boning knife, slice through the center of the protein, kind of like you’d slice a cake into two layers. You can stop slicing about a half-inch from the end, then open your meat up like a book. (A true butterfly.) Or you can cut all the way through it, which yields two thin, pliable pieces. Pound your butterflied protein into a uniform thinness, stuff it with whatever looks good, then roll it up and tie it with string.

Nowadays, I’m smitten with rolls:

  • I stuff flank steak with spinach and fresh mozzarella;
  • I slice open pork chops then roll them ’round apples and toasted bread crumbs;
  • I butterfly chicken breasts and fill them with sausage and kale.

This time of year, I do a lot with turkey fillets. (A Thanksgiving option?) Yesterday, I made these rolls for a client who lives by herself. She now has four dinners in the freezer, which she can thaw and heat anytime she wants.

It isn’t pork-stuffed pork wrapped in pork. But given the cost and time-commitment of that showstopper …

… it’s better!

Mushroom- & Spinach-Stuffed Turkey Rolls

You’ll have plenty of leftover stuffing. I like to mix it with a pound of ground beef or turkey, 1 egg and a handful of breadcrumbs, then shape into a meatloaf. If you don’t want the extra, simply halve the stuffing ingredients.

  • Half an onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 8-10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 boneless turkey fillets
  • Low-sodium chicken broth

For the stuffing:

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. When it’s hot, glaze the bottom with olive oil and add the onion, celery and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then saute until the vegetables are tender and the mushrooms release their liquid. Continue cooking until the mushroom liquid is evaporated. (This will take 10-15 minutes. Don’t rush it!)

Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Place the drained and dried spinach in a large bowl. Add the cooled mushroom mixture, the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the rolls:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Butterfly the turkey fillets, slicing all the way through the meat. Place the fillets in waxed paper and pound to between 1/3- and 1/4-inch thick.

Working one at a time, place a butterflied, pounded turkey fillet on a plate and sprinkle it with salt and pepper:

rolls step1

Place a couple of tablespoons of filling on one end of the fillet:

rolls step2

Working from the “filled” end, roll the fillet up into a cylinder. Tie with butcher’s twine so the meat is secure and the filling can’t escape:

rolls raw

Glaze a clean, large saute pan with olive oil (you’ll use 2-3 tablespoons). Heat over high heat. Add the turkey rolls and brown over high heat:

rolls browning

When brown on all sides, pour chicken broth into the pan to about a half-inch depth. (Some stuffing will have escaped during this process. Don’t worry about it.):

rolls browned

Cover the saute pan with a tight-fitting lid, and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until no pink is visible when you slice into the rolls.

rolls platedWhen done, remove the pan from the oven and place the turkey rolls on a platter. Bring the liquid in the saute pan to a boil over medium heat and boil until it’s reduced by half. Spoon over the rolls.

This dish serves four hungry people.