This year, I decided not to make a turkey. My husband was horrified when I told him until I told him about the Butternut Stuffed Turkey Tenderloin with Cranberries and Pecans that I would be making. You see, he’s a huge fan of a turkey sandwich our favorite diner serves. It has turkey and all the fixin’s, so I knew he would like the sound of this stuffed turkey tenderloin. It doesn’t have mashed potatoes, stuffing, or gravy, but it is stuffed with some very yummy Thanksgiving foods. I’m sure we will both love it, and my mother-in-law will make the traditional stuffed turkey we also love. I’d say this is a win-win situation since we will get two Thanksgiving dinners. Thank goodness they aren’t in the same day!
Turkey tenderloins stuffed with a sweet and savory filling of butternut squash, cranberries, sage and pecans – this tastes like Thanksgiving, all wrapped up in one dish!
There aren’t too many ingredients for this recipe, which was a relief. I had planned to go to my local Publix to choose everything for this week’s menu in person, but I wasn’t able to. Living with chronic pain and mobility issues makes getting out to the grocery store impossible at times, so I had to order from Whole Foods this week. They had everything I needed except the most important ingredient: the turkey tenderloins. Doh! their app suggested chicken as a substitute, but I was not having it. Chicken is not for Thanksgiving.
Fortunately, my local Publix carries them, so I sent Mr. Pinner on a shopping trip. He’s not a foodie or cook, so I texted him pictures with the department he could find them in. He came through like a champ. The turkey tenderloins were 1.5-pounds, but more turkey can’t be a bad thing!
I have to say I had a good time making this recipe. It was a little challenging, but I like a challenge. The hardest part was making the pockets in the turkey tenderloins. They were about the size of chicken breasts, so that helped. But it’s always a tense process because I’m concentrating on not cutting all the way through. Once that step was done, I felt so much better.
I cut the pockets into the turkey tenderloins as part of the prep work, and it all took 15 minutes, just as listed. I expected it to take longer since peeling a butternut squash is never easy (and it was a pain), but I was pleasantly surprised.
Speaking of the butternut squash, I wasn’t sure how much to use. The recipe says “1 1/4 cup 6 oz”. I didn’t know if that meant 1 1/4 cup OR 6 ounces (weight), or if it meant 1 1/4 cup PLUS 6 ounces. I went with 1 1/4 cup, and it was plenty. It took the neck of half of the squash, so I had lots of leftovers that I diced and froze.
Prepping and cooking the filling went pretty smoothly. My one difficulty was having to hunt for the ingredients and their quantities in the list. They weren’t all listed in the order needed, so it took some time to read through to find what I needed next.
I expected stuffing the turkey tenderloins would be difficult or awkward, but it wasn’t that bad. I laid out 4 lengths of kitchen string, each about 12″ long, and then placed a tenderloin on it, pocket side up. Then I used a tablespoon (not the measuring kind) to slowly fill the pocket, packing it in a bit.
The tenderloin stood up like a taco, so not much filling fell out during this process. Then all I had to do was tie the strings and cut off the excess. They don’t need to be tied too tightly or the filling will squeeze out, just tightly enough to hold everything together.
From there it was just a matter of searing the stuffed turkey tenderloin and baking. All of the hard work was done 🙂
One change I made to the order of the instructions was to preheat the oven as I preheated the skillet (toward the end of the prep work). My oven takes forever to preheat, and it was ready just when I needed it.
Another change was using one skillet throughout (the recipe calls for two). I chose a large nonstick skillet with a lid, and I also used the lid when I baked the turkey tenderloins in the oven. The recipe says to cover the skillet tightly with foil, but since I had a lid, I went with that.