A large turkey roulade roast with a bone sticking out of the end sits on a white plate

Chef Shawn’s Cartoon-Style Turkey “Leg” Roast

This one goes out to all the foodies who grew up in front of a TV

The Institute of Culinary Education's Lead Chef-Instructor Shawn Matijevich is no stranger to whimsical dishes.

For his Thanksgiving centerpiece last year, he lit a squash on fire. This year's dish, though not actively en flambé, is even more dramatic.

Meet the cartoon turkey "leg" roast.

A large turkey roulade roast with a bone sticking out of the end sits on a white plate

"The people go wild for this roast," Chef Shawn says.

The basic premise of the roast is fairly simple. A deboned turkey is fabricated, rolled up inside of the turkey skin, cooked in a water bath and then roasted. Right before it goes in the oven, Chef Shawn shoves a bone in the end for a truly larger-than-life look.

The process, though involved, yields a delicious roast that gives a serving of both white and dark meat in each slice.

"That way, people don't have to fight over who gets the white meat or the dark meat," Chef Shawn says. "It's a crowd-pleaser."

The key to the roast staying together is Activa RM transglutaminase, a powder that many chefs call "meat glue." It helps to bind the layers of meat together as they cook. Chef Shawn sprinkles it, along with herbs and salt, in between each layer of the roulade before cooking.

The dish also uses every part of the turkey, either in the roast itself or in the turkey stock used for the sauce. That's a deliberate choice on Chef Shawn's part since using the scraps from the turkey makes the dish both budget-conscious and delicious.

"Turkey fat is the most amazing substance on Earth," he says.

Here's how to make this stunning roast at home.

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Recipe

Chef Shawn’s Cartoon-Style Turkey “Leg”

Yield: 6 pound roast that serves 12 or (8 with ample leftovers.)

Ingredients

  • 1 turkey (approximately 12 pounds)
  • 1/2 ounce tarragon, finely minced 
  • 1/2 ounce thyme, finely minced 
  • 1/2 ounce chives, finely minced 
  • 1/2 ounce rosemary, finely minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 2 oz Activa RM Transglutinminase (AKA "meat glue")
  • Salt and pepper as desired

Directions

Step 1: Debone the turkey (You can do this up to three days in advance)

  1. Dry the turkey well and flip it so the breast side is facing down toward the cutting board. 
  2. Make an incision from the head to the tail along the spine to cut completely through the skin.  Gently remove the skin by pulling and using your knife to separate any connective tissue holding the skin to the meat. Reserve the skin.
  3. Remove the thighs with the legs attached and set aside.
  4. Remove the turkey breasts and set aside.
  5. Trim the meat from the thigh and leg and reserve the bones.

Step 2: Make the stock (You can do this up to three days in advance)

For the roast itself, you will only be using the breast, thighs, legs, and skin.  You’ll be left with lots of bones from the carcass, legs and thighs, as well as the wings.

  1. Roast the carcass, legs and thigh bones, and wings in a 350˚F oven until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  2. Place the roasted bones in a stock pot and cover with 1.5 gallons of water. Deglaze the roasting pan with 1 cup of wine to remove all the brown bits left by the roasting process, and add that liquid to the stock pot with the bones.
  3. Simmer for at least 4 hours until all meat and tissue comes off the bone easily (You can do this in 1.5 hours in a stovetop pressure cooker or Instant Pot.)
  4. Strain to catch all of the remaining solids.
  5. Select the best-looking bone and rinse under cold water to remove any remaining meat or connective tissue. Reserve this bone for later.

Step 3: Make the roulade (You can do this up to two days in advance)

  1. Lay the turkey skin with the side that was attached to the bird facing up. Sprinkle with a light layer of Activa RM, using a shaker or fine strainer to ensure even coverage.
  2. Place one of the boneless breasts on top and sprinkle some herbs, salt, and Activa RM.
  3. Place a leg and thigh. Sprinkle with some herbs, salt, and Activa RM.
  4. Repeat this process until you have no more meat left.
  5. Carefully wrap the skin around the meat to ensure it is fully covered and there are no holes.
  6. Carefully roll the roulade in at least 6 layers of heavy-duty plastic wraps and tighten the ends to form a tube.
  7. Tie off the ends of the roulade. Poke several small holes with a knife or toothpick to allow air to escape while you are doing your final tightening.
  8. Tighten with butcher's twine until very taught.
  9. Sous vide for 3 hours at 150 degrees F. You can also poach the roulade if you do not have a sous vide machine.  If you are not roasting within 4 hours, place the roulade in an ice bath to chill rapidly and then refrigerate until ready to roast.

Step 4: Make the sauce (You can do this up to three days in advance)

  1. Place your stock in a large stock pot and simmer until the volume is reduced to about 2 quarts.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the carrot, celery and onions until golden brown. 
  3. Deglaze the saucepan with the remaining cup of white wine and cook until the wine is almost gone (au sec).
  4. Add the 2 quarts of reduced stock and simmer until thickened. Strain.
  5. Return the strained sauce to the stove, whisk in the butter and simmer until it reaches desired thickness (should be the consistency of heavy cream).  
  6. Season with salt, pepper, and remaining herbs if desired.

Step 5: Finish the turkey (About one hour before serving)

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.  (It's important that the oven is preheated or your turkey will be dry.)
  2. Remove the plastic wrap and place your roulade on a suitable roasting pan. Season generously with salt and pepper. At this point, you can shove your bone in one end of the roulade until the desired effect is achieved.  
  3. Place the seasoned turkey roulade into the oven and roast until the skin is golden brown and crispy, about 40 minutes.  
  4. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for approximately 15 minutes before carving. It will remain hot during this resting time.
  5. Slice to desired thickness and serve with the sauce you made from the turkey stock. Make sure to take a photo of your final product!

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