Turkey Breasts with Pine Nut, Preserved Lemon and Fresh Herb Stuffing Balls

, from Issue #63. November, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Turkey Breasts with Pine Nut, Preserved Lemon and Fresh Herb Stuffing Balls

This is one of the most delicious and tender turkey breast recipes I’ve cooked. Read the instructions carefully, because the trick lies in not overcooking the turkey. 

Serves: 8


Turkey Breasts
2 single turkey breasts, skinned and boned, weighing about 650 grams each 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed tangelo or orange juice

1 tablespoon plus ½ cup verjuice
1 tablespoon creamy Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 tablespoon dried tarragon)
50 grams butter, melted
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons plain flour 
1 teaspoon salt 
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chicken stock (or reserve cooking water from cooking beans)

Preserved Lemon and Fresh Herb Balls
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon (rinse away pulp, dry, then chop)
1 tablespoon each chopped rosemary, parsley, tarragon and snipped chives
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons panko crumbs
1 large egg yolk
350 grams pork mince
To cook
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter


Turkey: Mix the orange juice, 1 tablespoon of the verjuice, mustard and half the tarragon in a large sealable bag. Add the turkey and turn to coat. Seal, put the bag in a bowl and refrigerate. The bowl is a safety precaution in case the bag bursts! 

Marinate for at least 1 hour, but around 6 hours is optimal. Turn the breasts from time to time and bring to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat oven to 180°C. 

Brush the turkey breasts with the melted butter then coat in the combined flour and salt, shaking off the excess. 

Heat an ovenproof dish (large enough to hold the breasts snugly) over medium heat. Add the butter and once sizzling, add the turkey breasts and brown on both sides. Season and scatter over the remaining tarragon. Pour in ½ cup verjuice and immediately cover with a lid. 

Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the juices just run clear. Pierce the breasts in the thickest part and once the juice runs clear, take them out. (See Cook’s Tips below for more on cooking turkey.)

Transfer the turkey breasts to a carving board and let them rest uncovered for 10 minutes. Skim the pan juices, add the stock or bean water and heat until it bubbles up and becomes syrupy. Slice the turkey breasts thinly against the grain. Spoon a little pan jus onto a large warmed platter and arrange the sliced turkey on top. Spoon over the remaining jus and serve immediately.

Preserved Lemon and Fresh Herb Balls
Mix everything together in a bowl. Shape into 24 balls, cover and chill.

To cook: Heat the oil and butter in a medium-sized sauté pan until sizzling. Add the meatballs and cook until golden, shaking the pan for even browning. Do this in batches if necessary. Serve hot. Makes 24.

Serving suggestions: Toss warm cooked asparagus and green beans with olive oil, garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Roughly crush steamed red skinned potatoes with sea salt and lashings of butter.