Orange-Curried Turkey Roulade with Goat Cheese & Spinach

My goal of having 6-pack abs for my honeymoon apparently won’t be met by reducing my intake of foie gras and pork belly alone.  In an effort to trick myself into eating healthier, I’ve been experimenting with other white meats.  Usually, I think turkey is pretty bland.  However, this recipe was so shockingly tasty that it made me forget I was even trying to cook “lite”.  The pungent flavors of the curry and orange marmalade transform plain turkey into a dish I would even serve for company.

Total kitchen time: 1.5 hours
Makes: 2 waists a little smaller

Shopping list:

  • 2 boneless skinless turkey breast halves
  • 1 tbsp. red curry powder
  • 2.5 Oz goat’s cheese (about 1/3 cup finely crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 2 tsp. orange marmalade
  • 4 8” pieces of cooking twine
  • kosher salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F and place the top rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with foil or a non-slip baking mat.
  2. Working one at a time, place each turkey breast between two sheets of plastic wrap.  Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet, pound the breast until it is uniformly thick.  Be careful not to accidentally rip through the meat.  If you’ve had a long day, this step can be very therapeutic.
  3. Generously salt both sides of the breast.  Then, coat each side with curry powder.  Lay the breast flat-side down and top with 1/2 of the goat cheese, pressing the cheese into the meat to help it stick.  Then, top the goat’s cheese with half of the spinach.
  4. Roll the breast into a log, starting with the narrow end.  Tie the roulade (rolled meat) in two places using lengths of twine.  Repeat for the remaining turkey breast.
  5. Finally, rub the outside of each roulade with 1 tsp. of orange marmalade.  Place on the lined baking sheet and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the roulade reads 160°F.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

I enjoyed this dish alongside an artichoke with my favorite choke-dip: light mayo and curry powder.  I suppose other healthy options might include a salad, fruit, or a doughnut.  Wait, doughnuts are healthy, right?

Roasted Pepper & Goat Cheese Cornbread

You’ll need your large cast iron skillet for this neo-mesa cornbread.  Although I’m not the first to pile toppings onto cornbread, I’ve never before seen a layer of goat cheese inside.  Perhaps KFC will pick up my idea and run with it, but in the meantime you can surprise your guests with this rustic yet upscale rendition of a barbecue favorite.

Makes: 15 round inches of goat-stuffed joy
Total kitchen time: 30 mins

Shopping list:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt (since we’re baking use table salt, not coarse salt)
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 12-Oz. jar roasted red bell peppers, cut into thin slices
  • 4 Oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F and set the top rack to the middle position.  Heat your 15″ cast iron skillet over medium heat on the stove.  If your skillet is smaller than 15″, you can make the whole recipe and discard the excess batter.  Halving this recipe should yield about enough batter for a 9″ skillet.
  2. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.
  3. Add the butter to the skillet to melt.  Once the butter is melted but not quite foamy, whisk it into the buttermilk and egg mixture.  Then, whisk the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. 
  4. With the skillet still hot, carefully arrange the red bell pepper slices in a sunburst pattern (or whatever pattern you’d like.  I’ve got $5.00 for the first person to submit an argyle bell pepper cornbread.)
  5. Then, very carefully add half of the batter to the skillet.  Using your spatula, gently cover each slice of bell pepper with some batter.  Once the bell peppers are covered with an even layer, sprinkle on the crumbled goat cheese.  Finish by adding the remaining half of the batter to cover.
  6. Bake at 450°F for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the skillet cool for 10 minutes or so, then carefully invert the pan onto a serving plate.  Slice into wedges and enjoy!

When I serve this cornbread, I like to drizzle some blue agave nectar over the whole plate.  This dish goes well with fried chicken, ribs, or a simple spice-rubbed steak.

Keep It Simple: Mixed Grill and Roasted Vegetables

mixed grill 
I really love playing host, but let’s face it, some nights I just want to keep things simple.  Here’s a great menu for a casual evening among friends, where we’ve put down our saffron and beurre blanc and picked up only the most basic ingredients: salt, pepper and olive oil.  You’ll be amazed at how satisfying such an elementary meal can be.

Total Kitchen Time: 1 hr
Makes: Your work seem effortless to 6 awed guests

Mixed Grill (pictured above):

  • 2 Free-range organic chickens
  • 2 lbs. uncooked bratwurst
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil (or canola oil)
  • kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F and place the top rack in the lower third of the oven.  This will be your chicken oven.
  2. Preheat a second oven (even better, your toaster oven) to 450°F.  Place the bratwurst directly on your oven rack or on a wire rack in the oven and bake for about 5 minutes until the top side has browned.  Flip the links and brown for another 5 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat on your brats (long “a” sound) down to 200°F and let them continue to roast, turning occasionally, until you’re ready to eat (or about an hour and a half).
  4. Rinse the chickens and pat them very, very dry with paper towels.  Make sure that all the nooks and crannies, including the inside cavity, are dry.  The reason?  Crispy skin comes from dry birds that don’t create steam as they cook (thanks, Thomas Keller!)
  5. Truss the birds and salt liberally.  Pepper them to taste, then rub the skin with oil.  The oil will add flavor, but also act as a conductor to help us in our quest of an all-over tan.
  6. Preheat 2 large skillets [may I recommend cast iron] over high heat until they have just started to smoke.  Place one bird in each skillet, breast side up.  Transfer the skillets to the oven 400°F and place side by side.  Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a thermometer inserted into the breast reads 150°F.
  7. After the birds have rested for 10 minutes, carve them into quarters and place on a large platter.  Cut each bratwurst in half on a bias and place around the chicken.  Serve to an adoring crowd.

tossing vegetables 
For the roasted vegetables, chop yellow squash, zucchini, brussels sprouts and onions into 3/4″ chunks and toss with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.  Roast on a baking sheet at 400°F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown spots of deliciousness appear.

beet and goat cheese salad
Round out your meal with a light beet and goat cheese salad.  Toss arugula and baby spinach with high quality olive oil, champagne vinegar and salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Top with crumbled goat cheese and sliced, boiled beets.

Serve this meal with a sweet wine such as a Gewürztraminer or an Alsatian Riesling.  You’ll look like a culinary hero, but for you, this was just “whipping something up”.  Bravo.