Go All In on Thanksgiving Turkey With This Jaw-Dropping Ballotine

Take a new turn with your holiday bird with a whole deboned turkey, stuffed, roulade-style, with nuts, speck, and bitter greens.

Ballotine-Style Whole Roast Turkey

Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Active Time:
1 hr 10 mins
Refrigerate Time:
12 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
10 servings

To make this jaw-dropping roulade, a whole turkey is deboned (except for the legs), then air-dried in the refrigerator chilled and air dried overnight to promote crispy skin when as turkey roasts. The turkey is then filled with a nutty, hearty filling of radicchio (wilted with shallot and garlic to mellow its bitterness) salty, umami-packed speck and Parmesan, and toasted walnuts.  Finally, the turkey is  rolled, tied, and roasted.

It’s a time-intensive project to be sure, but the rewards — ­the flavorful filling, juicy meat, and jaw-dropping appearance — are worth it.

Frequently asked questions

What does turkey ballotine mean?

Ballotine is a French culinary term that refers to a boneless cut of meat, poultry, or fish that has been stuffed, rolled, and roasted. 

Can I make this turkey roulade ahead of time? 

The turkey should be de-boned well ahead of time, to allow it at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours of pre-seasoning and chilling time.

The filling components can also be prepared ahead: Toast and chop nuts, and store, covered, at room temperature. Chop herbs and vegetables, and grate cheese; store in an airtight container in a refrigerator. 

What turkey is best for this recipe? 

Ideally you make this with a natural (unbrined) turkey. 

What should I serve with turkey roulade? 

This turkey would be great with a side salad and mashed potatoes.

Notes from the Food & Wine Test Kitchen

The turkey is well seasoned and tender, and the skin becomes crispy from salting the turkey prior to roasting. If the part by the legs doesn’t have enough skin to enclose the turkey, place a radicchio leaf over the turkey to close the gap.

The stuffing adds a lot of texture from the wilted radicchio and the chopped walnuts which become slightly tender. Rosemary and garlic season the turkey well. It’s not a thick stuffing in the traditional sense, but more of a flavorful lining to the spiral roll of meat. The toasted walnuts really make it. 

Recipe developer Amy Theilin uses Sartori Bellavitano cheese as her parmesan of choice for this recipe. “It’s a moister cheese, with the tang of parm,” she notes.

The gravy is very simple and rich. It’s roux is made from rendered turkey fat and butter, flour, chicken stock, and leftover drippings. A white balsamic reduction adds a slight tang and sweetness.

Suggested pairing

Our wine editor recommends a complex, elegant red Burgundy, such as from Louis Jadot Pommard, for this turkey roulade.


  • 1 (10- to 12-pound) fresh whole turkey

  • 3 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 small head radicchio, quartered, cored, and sliced (about 3 cups)

  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 8 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

  • 3 ounces thinly sliced speck or prosciutto

  • 5 1/4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided

  • 1 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3 cups lower-sodium chicken or turkey broth, divided


How to debone a turkey

  1. To remove turkey wings and thigh bones, place turkey, breast side down, on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice along either side of the backbone. Starting on right side of backbone, cut skin and meat from the bony back, using short swipes with the knife close to the bone. Continue to free skin from the rib cage until you reach the wing. Remove wing; reserve for another use. Continue cutting along rib cage until you get to the oyster of the thigh. Slide your knife around the ball of the thigh joint to expose the joint; cut through the cartilage. Cut down alongside the thigh bone, using short swipes close to the bone, until you get to the second ball joint; cut through at the cartilage. Detach and discard thigh bone from meat by scraping meat away. (Leave drumstick intact.) Repeat process on other side of turkey.

Remove turkey backbone and rib cage

  1. Starting at the back side of the breast, trim as close as possible to the rib cage, and carefully slice along the sternum, taking care not to puncture the breast skin. Remove and discard the carcass (which includes the backbone and rib cage). Using a paring knife, remove the two tenderloins (plump strips of meat attached to the underside of the breasts) from turkey. Remove and discard the large white tendons in the tenderloins. Place turkey, skin side down, and tenderloins on a wire rack set inside a large rimmed baking sheet.

  2. Sprinkle turkey and tenderloins on all sides with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Flip turkey to face skin side up on wire rack. Refrigerate, uncovered, until skin is dried, at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Make the filling

  1. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over high until shimmering. Add radicchio; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add shallot and garlic; cook, stirring often, until mixture is aromatic and radicchio is wilted, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Stuff, roll, and tie turkey

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Flip turkey to face skin side down on a large cutting board. Place 1 tenderloin lengthwise over gap between breasts to cover the divot, and place the remaining tenderloin crosswise over the top of the breasts to cover some of the neck skin. Sprinkle flesh side of turkey with rosemary. Top evenly with speck. Sprinkle evenly with cheese, walnuts, 2/3 cup parsley, and radicchio mixture. Position turkey with legs facing toward you. Starting from 1 side of turkey, roll the turkey up, jelly roll–style, as tightly as you can. With seam facing down, tie body of turkey with kitchen twine at 11/2-inch intervals. Tie turkey lengthwise, and then cross and tie legs at the ankles (ends of the drumsticks).

Roast turkey

  1. Fit a wire rack inside a roasting pan; set turkey, seam side down, on rack. Rub turkey all over with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Roast in preheated oven until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of turkey registers 120°F, 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 375°F, and roast until skin is burnished brown and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of meat registers 160°F, 30 to 45 minutes.

Make the gravy

  1. Transfer turkey to a cutting board, and let rest, uncovered, 20 minutes. (Turkey temperature will continue to rise to 165°F as it rests.) Remove wire rack from roasting pan; place roasting pan on stovetop over medium-high. Add balsamic vinegar, and cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan and stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by half, about 30 seconds. Add flour; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually add broth, whisking constantly, until smooth. Reduce heat to medium, and bring mixture to a simmer; simmer, whisking often, until mixture thickens and no floury taste remains, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon parsley, remaining 11/2 teaspoons salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.

  2. Remove twine from turkey, and cut off the legs; arrange legs on a serving platter. Slice remaining turkey crosswise, and transfer to platter with legs. Pour cutting board juices around meat. Drizzle turkey ballotine with gravy, and serve remaining gravy alongside.

Originally appeared in Food & Wine magazine, November 2023

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