Italian turkey roll

This great-tasting recipe first started out with an accidental pairing of two different halves of sub sandwiches. (Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

Hunters that look forward to matching wits with a wise old gobbler now have opportunities from just behind the coastal sand dunes to most alpine woodlands and grassy valleys in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The right yelps and clucks will invite Tom Turkey home to be the guest of honor at a springtime dinner.

Many hunters only breast out their wild turkeys and they’re missing some good eating. I typically skin the whole bird and roast it, but this is a recipe for those folks who only keep the breasts. It’s a different way to prepare them and has a flavor different than is usually associated with turkey.

If you still have a turkey breast in your freezer from last year, this will be a good recipe to enjoy it. And if you eat it early enough, it will help refresh your desire to get back out and add some fresh turkey to your freezer for the coming year. You have to provide the right fields or woods and know how to use your best sweet purrs and “come hither” yelps to convince a wary gobbler to walk within range. A fresh young gobbler will almost always be more tender, but this recipe can tenderize an older mature tom and help him be tender enough to cut with a fork. Give it a try. 

Italian turkey roll

The idea for this recipe came about a little sideways, but I believe you’ll appreciate it. I was at a meeting where they served small sections of sub sandwiches as a snack. I mistakenly picked up two sections of sub sandwiches (turkey and Italian), with the meats on the Italian sub being ham, salami and pepperoni. Rather than go through the line again, I decided I would combine them and eat them. The combination tasted surprisingly good.  

Several years later, I was going to cook a turkey breast and didn’t have a recipe in mind. That sandwich popped up. I put the turkey breast in a zesty Italian dressing marinade and headed to the grocery store for some thin slices of ham, salami and pepperoni. 

The sauteed peppers and onions add a good layer to the taste, but if you don’t care for them, don’t use them. The most noticeable taste from this is the oils from the pepperoni and salami cooking into the turkey. It’s definitely a little different than any other way I’ve eaten turkey.

It’s important to layer the meats on the turkey breast in the order noted in the preparation directions. This places the pepperoni and salami outside of the other things so they are next to the turkey, allowing their flavor to be absorbed into the breast.

This is best served while it is still warm – almost hot. This is when the juices have combined best and you have the highest probability to taste all the flavors in a single bite. It tends to dry as it cools. The flavor is still there, but the turkey gets dry. 

The combination of meats in this recipe produces some great taste. (Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)


1 turkey breast

Thin slices smoked ham

Thin salami slices

Thin pepperoni slices

Smoked Gouda cheese slices

1/2 sweet onion

1/4 Cup thin slices baby bell peppers

1/2 TSP minced garlic

Olive oil

Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste


  1. Chop the onion and peppers into medium pieces.
  2. Sauté the onion, peppers and garlic in a little olive oil.
  3. Pound the turkey breast until it is thin enough to roll (1/4 inch to 3/8 inch).
  4. Marinate the turkey breast in zesty Italian seasoning for 30 minutes to an hour in the refrigerator.
  5. Remove the turkey breast, pat it dry and press it back flat and thin.
  6. Add spices to turkey breast to personal taste (I use no salt, a little pepper and a little Italian seasoning).
  7. Lay the pepperoni slices on the breast to cover it one layer.
  8. Lay the ham slices on top of the pepperoni slices to cover them one layer.
  9. Spread the sauteed onion, garlic and peppers evenly across the pepperoni slices.
  10. Lay the cheese slices on top of the vegetables to cover them one layer.
  11. Lay the salami slices on top of the cheese slices to cover them one layer.
  12. Roll up the turkey breast as tightly as possible and secure it with toothpicks. If the rolled up breast is long enough to be awkward to handle, cut it in half.  
  13. Roll the rolled-up breast in the bread crumbs.
  14. 14, Cover a flat pan with aluminum foil, spray the foil with non-stick spray and place the rolled up breast on it to cook in the oven or use a grilling sheet, sprayed with non-stick spray to cook on the grill. 
  15. Preheat the oven to 350 or the grill to medium heat.
  16. Cook the turkey breast for approximately 60-75 minutes or until the temperature in the middle of the roll reaches 165. Understand this is an approximate time, especially on the grill, as grill temperatures may fluctuate significantly. Be careful not to overcook as it will make the turkey dry.
  17. Remove and serve while hot.

This goes well with steamed or sauteed squash and a baked potato or sweet potato. A green salad or lettuce wedge is a great way to begin the meal. Finish with a slice of warm apple pie or pound cake. 

About Jerry Dilsaver 1169 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply