Thanksgiving-An Intimate View (Redux)

This post is an update from a Thanksgiving post in 2009 and features new text/ photos, printable recipes, and more.

While some Americans are having a larger Thanksgiving, quite a few are again limiting numbers and thinking about a smaller menu. A turkey roulade (roo-LAHD) — a rolled up, stuffed turkey breast served up with a pan or two of roasted vegetables is for just that more intimate occasion and will serve 1-2 with plenty of leftovers, 4 with some, and 6 without much at all in those pesky where-are-the-lids Tupperware containers. (You can double it all for a larger group if need be, but do plan on more time. I also include a couple of other options for one-pan sides.) With some prep, this beautiful meal goes into the oven all together and is done in less than an hour — which makes it a lovely small dinner party menu as well. If you can get a boned turkey breast and don’t have to bone it yourself, you are way ahead of the game. Not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes and gravy or …? You can surely add other dishes though you don’t need them. (See TIPS below for links to Brussels sprouts I made, gravy without drippings, my spicy cranberry sauce, etc.) Easily purchased appetizers and a bakery pumpkin pie help give you most of the day off, a lot less dish washing, and time to watch “Home for the Holidays,” with Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, and Charles Durning– one of my favorite Thanksgiving movies. No movies, but want music? Here are some listening ideas.

Note: While this meal is basically gluten-free, do check all purchased ingredients, including turkey, for GF labels. Our Honeysuckle frozen turkey breast did not contain gluten, but other brands might.

Jump to Recipe
below--watch without sound:  The neighborhood local lonely hen turkey  (wild turkeys typically are in flocks or rafters--where are her buddies?) has come around once in a while through our yard for the last year or so and then sits on my neighbor's deck yelling her head off. Good God. Doesn't she know what time of year it is?! We don't keep guns in the house and it's illegal to shoot anything in the city limits, but come Thanksgiving, it gives me pause...though not much more as I'm really not very interested in plucking that many feathers. The process also stinks to high heaven. No, I'll let Butterball handle that one.

below: A table for one, two, or just a few is perhaps easiest to set for a holiday.

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.
         ~Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear.   

No prayers at your table? How about a toast like the one below or at least to the person who cooked the meal?!

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” 
~ Henry David Thoreau


Because the turkey is what’s on everyone mind first, I’ll start with that. If you buy a boned half breast (much easier), you can skip this section. We bought a whole bone-in frozen turkey breast and divided it into two half-breasts. It looked like the photo below in the store and weighed about 8 pounds. I thawed it in the sink for several hours two days ahead (not the approved method) and then put it in the fridge on a tray. It was a little icy when it was unpacked, but would be less so had I unwrapped it earlier. This whole breast is basically only meat unlike a rolled frozen turkey breast, which is full of more fillers and a lot of sodium.


The breast could have been roasted all in one, or divided and cooked in different ways (as I did), or even boned and rolled into 2 roulades that would then feed 10-12. My husband Dave grilled half a breast for sandwiches (I froze some of the cooked meat, too) and I had the other boned breast to make the roulade. The bones from the boned half went for stock –though you don’t have to do that. I did make a simple gravy or sauce (see TIPS) using that stock while the roulade roasted.

Here’s how we dealt with the meat (click on one photo to see more of a closeup slideshow without captions):

…and I made the roulade with the boned breast. The photos do a pretty good job showing that process:

Here’s the recipe for the roulade. You can roast vegetables (recipe below) at the same time, or do them early and reheat for the last 10-15 minutes the roulade finishes cooking and rests.


No need to roast a whole turkey and make all those sides for a smaller gathering. Instead, roll out a boneless turkey breast and fill it with a layer of thin prosciutto and sautéed onions with garlic and sage. Roast it in the bottom of the oven with root vegetables up top and there's your holiday meal done in under an hour. Buy a pie and rolls along with a great bottle of wine and you're all set! Note: Roasting times will vary slightly depending on size and temperature of turkey breast and how many other things are in the oven at the same time.
Servings: 2-6 (lots of leftovers if serving 1-2, fewer for 4, and none for 6)


  • Rolling pin and/or meat pounder/mallet, cotton kitchen twine, roasting pan


  • 1 boneless turkey breast with skin – 3-4 pounds
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, sliced very thinly
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly-ground Pepper


  • PREHEAT OVEN: to 400 F. Set rack in bottom third of oven. (You can roast vegetables on a top rack if needed.) Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the center (a space of about 6” x 12”) of a heavy roasting pan. Set aside.
  • COOK ONION, GARLIC, AND SAGE: In a small skillet, warm a tablespoon of olive oil over medium flame for a minute and add onion. Cook 5 minutes, stirring. Add garlic and sage and continue cooking until onion is tender. Set aside.
  • FLATTEN BREAST/LAYER ON PROSCIUTTO AND ONIONS/ROLL UP/TIE: Lay turkey breast out flat and roll or pound briefly with rolling pin and/or meat mallet until breast flattens out a little; it won't be thin or perfectly even. Pat dry all over with paper towels. Salt and pepper the turkey well on both sides and lay skin side down on the cutting board. Layer the prosciutto slices on the breast one piece at a time to cover and then spread the onion-sage-garlic mixture on top evenly. Using both hands, roll breast up (starting at the short end) gently but firmly to form a roll approximately 5-inches thick (depending on weight of breast), placing seam at bottom. Cut four 15″ pieces of cotton kitchen twine. Slip pieces of twine under the turkey roll, spacing the ties out evenly, and tie each together in a knot. Trim excess twine. Carefully place roulade into prepared roasting pan seam side down and drizzle evenly with another tablespoon or two of olive oil.
  • ROAST/REST/SLICE/SERVE: Place in bottom third of 400F oven and roast about 45-55 minutes OR until instant read thermometer registers at least 160 degrees F. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes or until temperature is at least 165. Slice into about eight slices or as you desire. Store leftovers well wrapped in refrigerator for 3 days. Do not freeze.


Cook’s Note:  You can shorten the roasting time by first browning the roulade in the roasting pan on the stovetop.
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2009 and 2021. All rights reserved. Inspired by Tyler Florence, as always.



Roast in a top rack of the oven while the turkey roulade cooks or make ahead, store in fridge well-wrapped, and reheat while turkey is resting. Add/sub butternut squash or other root vegetables, increasing seasonings and oil accordingly. Hint: Don't cut through root ends of onions or fennel so the pieces stay together during cooking.
Serves 2-6 — depending on how much you'd like for leftovers.


  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces (If parsnips are large, first slice in half and core them.)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into eighths
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 large turnip, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 5 new potatoes, cut in half (don't peel)
  • Fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, or 1 tablespoon dried


  • Place all vegetables on a large, rimmed baking sheet, mixing them well. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Using your hands, toss. Turn cut sides of new potatoes down. Bake about 40 minutes until tender and crispy at the edges. Store well-wrapped in the fridge 3-4 days. Do not freeze.


Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2009/2021. All rights reserved.

I served it all together on a big platter for a showy presentation. It is Thanksgiving, after all.

Other One-Pan Thanksgiving Sides shown below. Recipes here.

Listen to Sally Rogers sing “Thanksgiving Eve.

About the fresh herbs in the recipes: As we had a warmish fall, my rosemary was still alive in both the front container garden and in the back large herb garden. Dave dug the sage for me out of the garden before the first frost and transplanted it into a pot to keep in the house for the winter.


My inspiration for the turkey roulade in 2009 was “Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast with Leeks and Dried Fruit” from one of my favorite chefs, Tyler Florence, in his yummy and fun 2006 book, TYLER’S ULTIMATE. Here’s a similar recipe: Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast with Leeks….

How to Make Turkey Gravy Without Drippings/BHG I made a similar gravy but 1. sautéed minced shallot and thyme in the butter and 2. used some white wine (about a cup) in place of part of the turkey stock I had made from the the breast carcass. Note: not Gluten-Free without a change from all purpose flour to GF flour.

Tuscan Turkey Roulade/INA GARTEN This recipe came out a number of years after mine, but I might have to try it as it uses the whole breast instead of half.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic/NYTthe gold standard for Brussels sprouts in the oven.

It’s an old post without a printable recipe, but you can see how to make my Spicy Cranberry Sauce here.

More Time Thanksgiving Appetizer, First Course, and Side (for those who want to spend more time cooking or have a larger group)

WINE: American wines only, thank you! Want a special beginning? Start with a Gruet sparkling wine from New Mexico. Overall, choose something on the lighter side for dinner (red or white) that you love. No big, heavy alcoholic drinks needed here. No clue? A NY or WA state off-dry Riesling for starters or for white lovers. An OR Pinot Noir or a CA Syrah or blend for red lovers. (Or buy a couple!) Ask the wine shop clerk for suggestions, letting her first know how much you can spend. Don’t be shy. Otherwise you’ll be walking out wondering where all your cash went.

Apple and Rosemary Pork Roulade/MYRECIPES Not a turkey fan, but like roulade idea?

LEFTOVER TURKEY? Make my Turkey Minestrone.

If you liked this, you might also like my Cornish Hens with Cranberry-Cornbread Brown Rice Stuffing:

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.  
                                                    ~W.J. Cameron


Thanks for spending time with me in the kitchen. It always means a lot. Give thanks with a grateful heart. You’ll be better for it.

Be well and keep cooking,


Pic from first Thanksgiving-An Intimate View POST. Holiday dinner for one or two. Why not?

2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving-An Intimate View (Redux)

  1. Pingback: Chicken-Mushroom Bolognese | More Time at the Table

  2. Pingback: Double (GF) or Triple Chocolate Cheesecake | More Time at the Table

Leave a Reply