Columns by John

John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly

Spicy turkey roll-ups, big reds just the right meal for fall

Fall is a time of transition and I’m going to get a head start on autumn food and wine by preparing one of my all time favorite fall meals.


 It is no real surprise, then, that most of us move from the light wines of summer such as riesling, rose’, sauvignon blanc, and pinot grigio to fuller-bodied red varietals such as cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel and syrah.


My idea of culinary Nirvana, as I have noted in this space before, is to match full-flavored, spicy foods such as stews, pot roasts and stuffed meats with big, juicy reds.  Today, I am going to share a recipe with you that will be enhanced by any of the above-mentioned wines.  Oh, by the way, this dish is absolutely delicious, particularly if you can tolerate a good dose of garlic and a little heat.  


Start with a four or five pound turkey breast.   With a sharp knife, cut several half inch thick slices, placing a sheet of wax paper under and over each piece.  With a mallet, pound the meat to about one-eighth inch thickness (if you have trouble waking your teen age children in the morning this will do the trick).


Next, roast a tablespoon of cumin seeds over medium heat in a sauce pan, stirring regularly for about one minute.  In a mortar and pestle, grind the cumin fine and add one-quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of black pepper and salt and a tablespoon of chili powder.  Rub this mixture over the pieces of flattened turkey and let sit in the refrigerator overnight or for at least three hours.


For the stuffing, sauté (in three tablespoons of olive oil) one-half each green and  red bell pepper (cut in one-half inch long strips), one-half chopped onion, three cloves of minced garlic and one small can of chopped green chilies. Then sauté until vegetables begin to soften.  Salt and pepper to taste , stir in one egg and add one cup of Monterey Jack cheese and one-half cup of unflavored bread crumbs.  Microwave or cook two links of chorizo or Italian sausage, drain off fat, chop into small pieces and, when cool, add to the mixture.   


When the stuffing is cool, portion it evenly on the flattened turkey breast and roll them up, securing with butcher’s string or toothpicks.  Fire up the charcoal or gas grill and place the roll-ups directly over the fire, turning frequently until they are browned on all sides.  Then close the grill cover and roast them indirectly for about 20 minutes. Allow the meat to rest for about 15 minutes, then slice into one-inch sections and serve. You may wish to accompany this dish with wild rice or garlic mashed potatoes.


Here are a few wines that will make this dish even better.


2007 Castano Monastrell ($9) – A floral, perfumy aroma gives way to a deep, rich, spicy blackberry flavored mouthful of monastrell (also known as mourvedre). An amazingly complex wine for under $10 that has a silky mouth feel, this Spanish red is a lovely match to the turkey roll-ups.


2007 Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah ($18) – Wonderfully balanced wine with none of that sometimes over blown, candy sweet intensity prevalent in many new world syrahs/shiraz.  Excellent dark fruit flavors, some medium tannins and nice acidity make this wine a superb accompaniment to the turkey roll-ups.

Back from Italia!
Wine and food events