It's that time of year again! All the turkeys are running for cover and hoping for Charlie Brown to make popcorn and toast for Thanksgiving! But aren't there times when you don't necessarily want to wait until "Turkey Day" to enjoy a flavorful and lean, juicy turkey? And the other factor here is quantity. There's no way my family would need a whole turkey for a normal dinner.... so here's a great solution... an herb roasted turkey breast!
This boneless turkey breast will be just right for a regular family dinner and maybe even a couple of sandwiches. The one shown in the photo was 3 pounds - which is a LOT of turkey considering there's no bones factored in that weight. Since I'm not thinking mashed potatoes and gravy at the moment, I'm jazzing it up with a warm cranberry pear chutney and serving it with some wonderful roasted veggies. This meal will throw Autumn into high gear!
What? You don't like dry turkey? Of course you don't! And neither does my family, so I threw my turkey breast into a flavorful brine overnight so it would be extra juicy! WooHOO!! Parts of this post have been done before, so if you need step-by-step on those parts, just click the links.
- 1 turkey breast (mine was 3 pounds)
- 1 stick softened butter
- a handful of fresh sage, chopped
- a handful of fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stem
- salt, pepper, lemon pepper
- Sweet and Salty Brine
- 10 - 12 cups water
- 1/2 cup sea salt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup apple juice
- 2 large bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 2 large lemons
- Cranberry Glaze
- 1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp orange zest (from 1 large orange)
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup fresh ginger, minced
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
- 1 ripe pear
Follow this link to prepare the Sweet and Salty Brine first. Basically you are just heating up the water with all the stuff in it enough to dissolve the solutes, then cooling it back down. The brine needs to be cool before adding the meat. (I like to stick it into a large pan of ice to cool it faster.)
|Heat and stir all the brine components together!|
|Sweet and salty brine... cooling over ice|
To the cooled brine, add the turkey breast. I like to give mine a good rinse first. Don't ask me why. I have poultry issues I guess. Brine the turkey for 5 - 13 hours. I put it in the brine before bed and took it out about mid-morning.
|thawed 3 pound boneless turkey breast|
Prepare a compound butter by adding a handful of fresh chopped sage and thyme leaves to softened butter and mixing. Slather this butter under the skin and over the top, then season well with a mixture of kosher salt, black pepper, and lemon pepper (or whatever seasonings you would prefer).
|1/2 cup butter|
|handful of fresh sage from the garden|
|fresh thyme.... about 4 or 5 sprigs|
|Butter plus herbs. Amount is to your liking.|
Here's the compound butter, all mixed up.
I can just see my mother trying to look through the computer screen to see if I am cringing. The answer is... Yes, Mom... I AM cringing!
Season the skin liberally with salt, pepper, and lemon pepper, and you are ready to bake!
I feel best inserting a digital thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and setting the alarm to 165 degrees. It will beep when the meat is done and you don't have to worry. Bake at 350 degrees F until it reaches this internal temperature. It probably took mine about 45 - 60 minutes. I wasn't paying very close attention because I knew it would beep when it was cooked. If you don't have one, then you should rush out and purchase one. Why worry and fret when you can let this little gadget take all the guess work out of it?!
While the turkey is cooking, you can prepare the Cranberry Pear Chutney. Follow the directions on the link with the addition of a chopped up pear (or apple). I just wanted to give it an extra dimension of texture. There's nothing to the sauce - just mix, bring to a boil, allow to thicken, and turn it off.
Please allow the meat to rest at least 10 minutes before cutting into it after you take it out of the oven. PLEASE! Or else the juices will all run out of it. You need to give it time to redistribute the juices into all the fibers of the meat. Trust me on this.
Serve the turkey with this gorgeous Cranberry Pear Chutney and those Roasted Carrots and Parsnips (and I added some potatoes).
So in review, we have substituted heavy mashed potatoes and gravy with a very vibrant and healthy cranberry sauce and roasted veggies..and of course very lean juicy turkey! I would be tempted to say "winner winner chicken dinner," but of course I can't. And not much rhymes with turkey! HaHa.
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