Today's recipe was created for those who are interested in American wild game entrées. People still hunt deer and turkey today with a rifle or shotgun, just like they did a few hundred years ago in the early American colonies. Modern consumers that are interested in healthy alternative meats usually hunt for deer and turkey at a good butcher shop. Either way, wild game meats offer an opportunity to cook some interesting food for the holiday season.
I made today's recipe a few years ago when I was working at a steel mill in East Chicago. A few coworkers had already bagged their limit of deer during the Indiana hunting season and they gave me some venison sausage and venison back-strap tenderloin steaks. The venison sausage was dry cured like salami. Cured venison sausage is cooked or smoked, so it is a ready to eat product. Venison sausage is very lean and mild in flavor. Hazelnuts add a nice complimentary flavor to the venison sausage bread stuffing.
Persimmons are an early winter fruit. There are many varieties of persimmons and I chose locally grown Indiana persimmons for this recipe. The brandy persimmon sauce has a gentle flavor that does not overpower the flavors of the stuffed turkey.
It can take more than two weeks to ripen persimmons. Unripe persimmons are very hard and the flavor tastes chalky. A persimmon is ripe when is becomes soft and the skin splits on a few places on the fruit. The fastest way to ripen persimmons is to place them in a refrigerator and then forget about them for 1 to 2 weeks. Unlike most fruits, persimmons ripen faster in cold air.
Hazelnut Venison Sausage Stuffing:
This recipe yields about 3 cups of bread stuffing. (Enough to stuff 1 whole small turkey breast.)
Many butcher shops and wild game shops offer dry-cure venison sausage. Internet stores are another resource option.
Step 1: Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
Add 1/2 cup of chopped onion.
Add 1/2 cup of chopped celery.
Sauté till the vegetables start to become tender.
Step 2: Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped dry-cure venison sausage. (Remove the casing first.)
Add 1 cup of light turkey broth or chicken broth.
Simmer and reduce till about 1/3 cup of liquid remains.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Step 3: Place 3 cups of French bread that is cut into small cube shapes in a mixing bowl.
Add the cooked vegetables, venison sausage and reduced broth to the bread cubes while gently tossing.
Add 1/4 cup of chopped toasted hazelnuts.
Add 2 pinches of ground sage.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped parsley.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram.
Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
Step 4: Add 1 whisked large egg while gentle tossing the ingredients together.
*Check the consistency. The stuffing may be a little bit dry at this point. It should be just moist enough to hold its own shape when pressed together. If the stuffing is too dry, then add just enough chicken broth to dampen the stuffing while tossing the ingredients together. Do not add too much broth or the stuffing will be soggy!
Step 5: Place the stuffing in a container.
Chill the stuffing till it is needed.
Brandy Persimmon Sauce:
This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups. (4 generous portions)
The sauce should be started before the stuffed turkey breast is roasted.
Step 1: Place 2 trimmed (remove the stem core) ripe American Persimmons in a sauce pot.
Cover the persimmons with water.
Place the pot over medium heat.
Gently boil till the persimmons become very soft.
Step 2: Remove the persimmons from the hot water.
Let the persimmons cool to room temperature.
Peel the persimmon skin off.
Step 3: Puree the poached persimmons in a food processor or blender.
The yield should be about 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of persimmon puree.
Step 4: Place the persimmon puree in a sauce pot.
Add 1 cup of water.
Add 2 whole cloves.
Add 1 pinch of allspice.
Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
Add 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
Add 1 cup of brandy.
Step 5: Place the pot over medium heat.
Simmer and reduce till about 1 1/2 cups of thin puree sauce remain.
Step 6: Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl to make a slurry.
Add just enough of the slurry to thicken the sauce to a thin consistency that can glaze a spoon. (Discard or save any extra slurry.)
Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
Simmer for 2 minutes.
Step 7: Remove the pot from the heat.
Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a ceramic container.
Keep the sauce warm in a 135ºF bain marie.
Hazelnut Venison Sausage Stuffed Turkey Breast:
This recipe yields 1 stuffed small turkey breast. (3 or 4 portions)
The stuffed turkey breast can be trussed, so it retains a round shape or it can be cooked untrussed to create a presentation like the one in the photos above.
Step 1: Select 1 small boneless turkey breast (or cut a section of turkey breast) that weighs about 20 ounces.
Leave the skin attached.
Trim any fat and excess skin from the breast.
Remove the tenderloin filet section and save it for another recipe.
*The prepared boneless turkey breast section should be a fairly even thickness. About 1/2" to 3/4" thick is good. If one end is too thick, then butterfly cut the end open, so the entire breast cooks evenly.
Step 2: Place the turkey breast on a cutting board skin side down.
Mound a generous amount of the Hazelnut Venison Sausage Stuffing across the length of the whole turkey breast filet.
Fold the turkey filet over the stuffing.
Step 3: Brush a roasting pan with vegetable oil.
Place the stuffed turkey breast on the pan, so the seam faces down and the skin faces upward.
Press the sides of the turkey filet, so the stuffing is not exposed and the stuffed turkey beast is evenly shaped.
Step 4: Brush the turkey with melted unsalted butter.
Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
Sprinkle 1 pinch of ground sage on the stuffed turkey breast.
Sprinkle 2 pinches of Herbs de Provence on the stuffed turkey breast.
Add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan.
Step 5: Place the pan in a 300ºF oven.
Slowly roast till the turkey is fully cooked and the skin is crispy golden brown. (The internal temperature of the stuffing must be at least 165ºF for 15 seconds, so all pathogen threats are eliminated.)
Step 6: Remove the pan from the oven.
Keep the stuffed turkey breast warm on a stove top.
Allow the stuffed turkey breast to cool and rest for 5 minutes, before slicing.
Hazelnut Venison Sausage Stuffed Turkey Breast with Brandy Persimmon Sauce:
This recipe describes 1 entrée presentation.
Step 1: Pour about 1/4 cup of the Brandy Persimmon Sauce on a plate as a bed for the stuffed turkey breast.
Step 2: Cut 3 thick slices of the Hazelnut Venison Sausage Stuffed Turkey Breast. (About 3/8" to 1/2" thick.)
Carefully use a long spatula to place the stuffed turkey slices on the sauce on the plate.
Step 3: Spoon a little bit more of the Brandy Persimmon Sauce on the plate around the stuffed turkey slices.
The flavors are comfortable and satisfying. This is a nice gourmet Appalachian style turkey entrée for Thanksgiving!