Make a Boneless Turkey This Thanksgiving

Mj 618_348_tk boneless turkey
Diana Miller / Getty Images

Besides your drunk uncle, the turkey is often the problem with Thanksgiving. The enormous birds are difficult to handle, take forever to cook (hogging the oven all the while), and nearly impossible to conjure consistent flavor from since the white meat and the dark meat require different cooking times. Carving can be a disaster, so getting warm (not to mention presentable) meat on the table in a timely fashion is a rarity in most American households. But there's a way to simplify every aspect of turkey preparation while also adding to the flavor, while increasing the ease of carving and the aesthetic of presentation: Go boneless.

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Any butcher worth their string can take the bones out of a turkey. You just have to ask, and what you'll want to ask for is the entire bird intact and butterflied to prepare as a Roulade (basically, a roll). What you choose to roll within the turkey is up to you, but a blend of ground meat, aromatics, and seasonings makes for a flavorful headliner among the supporting sides of stuffing and veggies. Here's a suggested recipe that you can follow regardless of any alterations to the ingredients (such as excluding the ground meats or altering the herbs):


  • 1 boneless turkey (12 to 14 lbs)
  • 9 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp crushed fennel seed
  • 2 tbsp minced lemon zest
  • 1 lb ground veal
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 3 large eggs, gently whipped
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • Course salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup julienned sage for garnish 


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375º.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the ground meat with the onion, garlic, lemon zest, fennel seeds, eggs, bread crumbs, three tbsp of olive oil, a tbsp of salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly with fingers and set aside.
  3. Season both sides of the turkey generously with course salt and black pepper. Place the boneless turkey skin-side down. Make a layer of stuffing inside the turkey, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Tuck in any loose sides of the turkey, and roll carefully into a long tube. Tie with butcher’s string at 3-inch intervals. Rub evenly with three tbsp of olive oil.
  4. Place on a rack and roast for 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
  5. Remove from oven. Combine last three tbsp of olive oil with the honey. Mix and brush over the turkey. Return to oven and roast for another 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160–165º.
  6. Set aside and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into 1-inch rounds to be arranged on a platter and sprinkled with the sage for garnish.


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