Roasted Turkey Breast with New Mexico Green Chile Stuffing

This recipe isn’t one of Grandma Falba’s, but it’s one of my holiday favorites. The spiciness of the crust and sweetness of the apricot preserves is a wonderful combination. And when you don’t want to cook a whole turkey and deal with all the leftovers, roasting a turkey breast is a great alternative. I found this recipe in a magazine* years ago, and have changed it over time to include spices and green chile that give it a southwestern (particularly New Mexico) flavor.

Depending on your grocery store, you may be able to buy a de-boned turkey breast, or you may need to preorder one. If you know how to de-bone one of these, then you can do that part yourself. (I prefer to order an organic turkey breast, de-boned, from Whole Foods. They really don’t charge me any more than other stores in the Seattle area, and I’ve just had the best luck getting exactly what I want from WF. Not an endorsement, just my experience.)

There’s always mashed potatoes, stuffing and vegetables at our holiday meals, and gravy. The pan drippings from this roasted turkey breast aren’t always the best for gravy, the drippings can get a little too done and will impart a burned flavor if too much of them are used in gravy. A little bit goes a long way, use your judgment. At our house, we use a few tablespoons of the drippings along with a good-quality gravy mix, or a roux-based gravy from scratch.

At first reading, this recipe may seem daunting but it’s really not too complicated once you dig in give it a try. Get everything together and clear a large space on your counter, and have fun putting this together.

Roasted Turkey Breast with New Mexico Green Chile Stuffing

Spices (to rub under skin)
1 T red chili powder
1 t cumin, ground
1/2 t thyme, dried
1/2 t Mexican oregano, dried
1/2 t salt

Turkey Breast
4-6 lbs boneless turkey breast
olive oil
chicken broth, about 16 oz more or less
1/2 C apricot preserves

2 t butter, unsalted
medium onion, chopped
1-4  T hatch green chile (chopped, amount varies on how spicy the green chile is–we want a bit of spiciness but don’t want to take over the flavor of the stuffing)
2+ C dry cornbread stuffing mix (do not add any seasonings that may come in the package, and do not use a brand where the seasoning is mixed in with the cornbread)
2/3 C or so hot chicken broth
1 egg white
1/4 t thyme, dried
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 325. Combine spices in small bowl.

Make the stuffing by melting the butter in a medium pan, medium heat. Add about 2/3 of the chopped onion (roughly 2/3 cup depending on the size of your onion) and saute until just lightly browned. Add the green chile part way thru the saute.

There's green chile in there!
There’s green chile in there!

Remove pan from heat.  In a large bowl, add the stuffing mix, egg white, thyme, salt and sauted onion and green chile. Toss adding the hot broth a bit at a time to get the desired consistency of stuffing. This won’t be a dry stuffing, but not too moist either.

Putting the turkey breast together, the fun part! Cut at least 5 lengths of kitchen twine, 18″ or so.  Place the turkey on your counter skin-side down. If your turkey has tenderloins included (and they don’t always), then carefully open these up with a knife so the breast can lay flat. Don’t remove the tenderloin, try to keep it attached, we just want to get this to lay flat and be easier to roll up when stuffed. Once this is done, turn the breast over. Work your fingers under the skin to

Ready to roll...
Ready to roll…

create space between the meat and skin. Spread about 1/3 of the spice mixture under the skin. Turn the breast over again and now spread the stuffing mixture onto the meat. Leave a bit of a border around the edges.

Roll the turkey up, lengthwise. This was the tricky part for me…lengthwise? If your turkey breast had tenderloins, then arrange the breast so that the tenderloins are laid out top and bottom. You’re going to roll the turkey top to bottom (this is lengthwise). No tenderloins? You want to roll the turkey with the ‘line’ where  a breastbone was attached before de-boning. Rolling this combination of breast and stuffing is tricky and you’re not going to have a perfectly formed shape here, just do the best you can. You may have to stuff some stuffing back, or re-arrange and do it again.


No worries, it’s all gonna taste the same when it’s done. Use the twine to secure the roll, start with a piece around the thickest part. You may need extra hands to help with this step. Use at least 5 pieces of twine, you want that stuffing to stay in there! Lastly, use skewers to seal up each end of the roast as best you can.

In your roasting pan, drizzle about 1 T of olive oil and toss the rest of the chopped onion in the pan. Now put that turkey roast on the onion, with the seam side down. Brush or rub the turkey roast with olive oil and then sprinkle the rest of the spice mix onto the top and sides of the roast. Into the oven!

On a bed of olive oil and onion it goes...
On a bed of olive oil and onion it goes…
Into the oven
Into the oven

Roast about  1 1/2 hours and then pour at least 1/2 C of chicken broth over the roast. Use a loose ‘tent’ of foil to cover the roast at this point and continue cooking, basting every 15 or so minutes. The number of times you’ll baste depends on how large a roast you have, the roast is done when an instant-read thermometer shows 165 in the thickest part of the roast, generally about 3-4 cycles of basting is enough but if the roast is large, a little more roasting time will be needed. When done, remove the roast from the oven and place on the surface where you’ll be cutting it (a board, for example).

Heat the apricot preserves until melted (microwave about 20 seconds or so) and spread over the roast, then cover with that loose ‘tent’ you had in the oven. Let the roast ‘rest’ for 20 minutes.

During this roast rest, finish up with the rest of the meal, make your gravy, etc.

Done, ready to serve!
Done, ready to serve!

To serve the roast, carefully remove the skewers on each end and cut the twine pieces and remove those. Slice into approximately 1/2″ thicknesses in the same direction as the twine, and serve. If you made gravy, a bit on top of the slices will be wonderful!




*The original recipe this version is based on came from a 2000 Weight Watchers magazine featuring ‘lighter’ versions of holiday meals.


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