During Thanksgiving, the family always looks forward to that big, juicy, 20 pound bird that always takes over the center of the dinner table. For the chefs, however, the turkey can quickly turn into a nightmare.
Dry. Bland. Still Frozen… Did I mention dry and bland? Let’s not forget about the fact that the thing is 20 pounds…
There are so many ways that the star of Thanksgiving could be ruined. Growing up with a family of 3, my grandparents resented buying a turkey just because of how unrealistic it is for us to finish the bird. Regardless, was always a turkey on the dinner table every Thanksgiving.
Things changed in college. There was no human way I could prepare a giant turkey in my college dorm kitchen, which is why I turned to turkey breasts. I’m not talking about the packaged turkey breast fillets cut off… but the bone-in stuff… At an average of 7 pounds, the turkey breast is perfect for a smaller audience and still delivers the delicious dose of tryptophan sending you into a heavenly turkey-coma right before black friday.
So onto this bird that I’m dying to share with you…it consists of a herby butter that is massaged directly onto the meat, under the skin, which is then roasted gently until it reaches perfection.
A secret for tender and moist that I abide by is the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Poultry Curve. Alton Brown was actually the chef that introduced this curve to me. We are normally told that chicken has to be cooked until it reaches 165 F internally. In reality, when the turkey is resting, the outside of the turkey continues to warm the inside of it up, so we really only have to wait until 161F for safe cooking!
You honestly don’t really need gravy with this turkey but I’ve included a simple recipe that uses pan-drippings, roux, and a little bit of chicken stock that’ll get you through. I personally love gravy so I make a bowl even though I don’t really need it. I try to find something to do with it.. and yes that is my reference to a post-thanksgiving dinner dish (:
If you are using this gravy recipe for a turkey that you brined, use the lowest-sodium chicken broth you can find or even consider thinning it out with a bit of water instead of chicken broth so its not too salty.
Herb-Roasted Bone-in Turkey Breast
- 1 Bone-in Turkey Breast
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 1 Tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp sage leaves, chopped
- 1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 onion, quartered
- In a bowl combine garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, and butter. Place bowl in the fridge until firm.
- In the meanwhile, place rinse and pat down turkey breast. Loosen the skin, using it as a pocket for the butter.
- Rub the herbbed butter under (not over) the skin of the turkey.
- Place in a turkey bag lightly dusted with flour, Place the quartered onion in the cavity of the breast and tie the bag according to the instructions accompanying your oven bag. Pierce the bag, as instructed by the directions on the box.
- Bake turkey at 350 for approximately an hour and a half to two hours, checking for doneness at the hour and half mark. Turkey should be cooked when it reaches 161, not 165.
Happy Turkey Day!