Turkey Shortage? Shortcut Thanksgiving Turkey Roll Recipe

Turkey for one, two, or even a family gathering – my personal recipe recently created.

The Turkey Shortage

John McCormick on his sheep ranch. Photo: John McCormick
John McCormick on his sheep ranch

Among the shortages plaguing the world it may seem like a small thing but to thousands, perhaps millions of Americans, the threat of a family Thanksgiving dinner WITHOUT the usual star of the occasion, a golden brown, crisp skin turkey with stuffing, is a major downer.

(The Turkey shortage is not something you can blame Putin for, it is mainly due to bird flu which ran roughshod over chicken and turkey farms this year resulting in culling of entire flocks.)

The fact that many families were forced to skip this yearly ritual due to the threat posed by the COVID pandemic has contributed to the importance of the traditional ritual this year.

Turkeys (Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo) are native to North America and in the U.S. were supposedly featured at the first Thanksgiving. Whether that is true or not and neglecting the fact that Thanksgiving is seen by native Americans as a less than happy occasion, turkeys are a big part of many family gatherings.

For some who are living alone for one reason or another (I recall one thanksgiving during my college years when I actually had a turkey TV dinner – actually a big step up from Ramen) a turkey is much too big to deal with.

I have a solution for both groups and my recipe follows. I came up with it because I happen to really like turkey meat and turkeys are not easy to find most of the year.

Turkey roll spices mise en place
Turkey roll spices mise en place. Photo: John McCormick

I do have a frozen turkey in my freezer which will be the star of our late November foodarama but I also make quick and simple turkey with stuffing and did so yesterday as well as two weeks ago.

This can be scaled up easily or you can make multiple copies of my simple recipe.

Begin with ground turkey meat which is normally available all year round.

It can be the fresh meat right next to the ground beef or one of the tubes of frozen turkey meat.

I am showing how to use the one pound frozen turkey “tube.”

First, you need a pan to cook it in. Most people, in my experience, have a bread loaf pan even if you don’t bake bread – it happens that I do but it is a handy size for coffee bread, banana bread, etc.

I always use parchment paper and this is an especially good place for it.

First Thaw The Turkey.

Then, spread a layer of turkey meat on the bottom of the bread pan.
Next, take some croutons. I make my own because it is nearly Winter and heating a toaster oven to dry and lightly toast bread helps heat the kitchen.

I have a roaster and a regular stove oven but one of the benefits of not cooking a large turkey is not having to heat a large appliance, the entire process can use a toaster oven. Of course, if you decide to make individual turkey rolls for each person then a large oven may be more practical. You can also use larger roasting pans with many individual servings in parchment paper.

Back to the bread pan.

You have a layer of ground turkey meat.

Turkey meat layer in bottom of bread pan lined with parchment paper
Turkey meat layer in bottom of bread pan lined with parchment paper. Photo: John McCormick

Next take prepared stuffing or just make it fresh now.

Croutons, sprinkled with poultry spice or marjoram, black pepper, sage, onion and celery which have been sautéed and cooled, all mixed together well. If still very dry (mostly depending on how you cooked the onion and celery) pour enough chicken broth so you can get the stuffing to stick together – remember, you won’t have a lot of melting fat to moisten the stuffing.

Turkey stuffing with egg. Photo: John McCormick
Turkey stuffing with egg. Photo: John McCormick

Next put a layer of stuffing down the middle of the bottom turkey layer.

Turkey roll wrapped around stuffing. Photo: John McCormick
Turkey roll wrapped around stuffing. Photo: John McCormick

Now spread turkey meat around the edges and either across the top, or leave most of the top uncovered and put some small croutons on top, spray a bit of oil on them, and bake until done.


Time and temperature will vary a lot depending on the oven, pan, and size of the turkey roll.

Baked turkey roll topped with crusty breaded layer. Photo: John McCormick
Baked turkey roll topped with crusty breaded layer. Photo: John McCormick

An instant cooking thermometer is REALLY useful and you really should have one anyway if you do any home cooking as so many more people have begun doing because of COVID.

I used a convection oven set to 380 degrees F.

To keep it together I stirred in a raw egg, but that is optional.

You can also place two strips of bacon across the top.

Some gravy made with chicken broth makes a nice finishing touch but done right and not drastically overcooked, this turkey roll with stuffing is nice and moist.

The bird shortage doesn’t necessarily cramp Thanksgiving style. There is often a way around any obstacle. It just takes a little courage and ingenuity.