Well beyond that Thursday in November, one of our very favorite family meals is a turkey breast dinner. Simple, oven roasted turkey breast with gravy, mashed potatoes and something green from the garden. It pleases all my of dinner critics companions, so much so I usually roast two split breasts for Sunday dinner and then put to use those coveted leftovers throughout the week.
A little bird once told me – actually, it was quite a big, loud beloved bird, Chris Robles – to buy Empire split turkey breasts from Trader Joe’s which are kosher breasts, meaning you buy them pre-brined. As someone who takes pride in the effort to brine my Thanksgiving turkey, I will admit it’s a welcome shortcut for weeknights or yes, even holiday meals.
Pre-brining seals in the moisture so it cooks up with a crispy skin/moist meat combo. The Empire label doesn’t say organic, but the practice of green kosher is sustainable farming and humanely raised poultry. If you grab a kosher turkey it’s good to go without much effort at all. Breasts are great for family dinners or smaller holiday gatherings and they couldn’t be easier to get right.
As for the leftovers, I often make this salad with cranberries and pecans. It’s delicious served over greens for a lunchtime salad. My purist kids love simple slices of turkey nestled into a fresh baguette — BTW have you recently tried the baguettes from Helena Bakery? Delicious! However, the most requested from the turkey leftover rainbow is my green turkey enchiladas- recipe coming in time for your turkey day leftovers!
Oven Roasted Turkey Breast with Thyme
Makes two turkey breasts
Thyme grows year round in my garden; I have it planted in pots in too many places to name here. I particularly love thyme with poultry; I especially love it when it gets roasted on top of the turkey, getting wonderfully crispy. Here, I prefer white pepper to black pepper, sometimes when I roast things with black pepper for long periods of time it can get develop a bitter taste. This recipe is easily divided if you only want to make half of a full breast.
1 full turkey breast split or 2 split breasts
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
4 springs of thyme, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons brandy or dry vermouth
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Preheat over 425 degrees.
The first step is to make sure the turkey is good and dry before adding your ingredients. Divide the butter between the two breasts and coat it all over the top– rubbing the butter on top of the skin and underneath it, sliding your hand between the skin and the meat. Just be careful not to pull off the skin completely. Season evenly with salt and pepper and place two to three springs of thyme on each breast.
Place breasts near each other in a large, oven safe roasting pan skin side up. I like to use this one from Le Cruset because I can make the gravy on the stovetop in the same pan after the turkey is comes out of the oven.
Roast 45-55 minutes. Skin should be crispy, dark golden and the meat should read 165 degrees at the thickest part.
Remove the turkey to a cutting board and loosely tent – if you cover tightly with foil it will completely overcook and the skin will be rubbery. When ready, slice the meat in one large piece off the bones – taking care to remove all of the meat and then slice to serve.
To make the gravy: Because the breasts are super lean there isn’t much fat accumulated in the pan. Go ahead and use all of what’s left as drippings to make an easy and delicious gravy.
Heat the stock in a small saucepan. Removing any stems of thyme for the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop and cook on medium high heat. Add the brandy (you can substitute dry vermouth or white wine here, too). With a wooden spoon scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cornstarch and cook for a minute or two, stirring or whisking to get rid of any lumps. Ladle the warm stock into pan. Stir and cook until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper and serve.