My cooking mojo has finally returned (Don’t get the title? Watch this.) All it took was my favorite holiday of the year.
and for the first time, I made the main dish too. That’s right, I made a turkey (breast) with a little help from the Barefoot Contessa.
Although turkey is one of those foods people are constantly worried about preparing, and although I was preparing this particular legless bird for my in-laws, I simply wasn’t concerned about it. I kept thinking it would be exactly like roasting a chicken. Well, it was and it wasn’t. To make sure my inaugural turkey was crispy, juicy and cooked to perfection, I checked out what others had to say.
I started with Mark Bittman,
and crossed referenced with Irma,
as well as a couple of other volumes in my collection. Most everyone seems to be in agreement that you roast a turkey at 325 for a certain number of hours per pound. But the Culinary Institute and Mark Bittman both suggest crisping up the skin first, and I couldn’t help but agree. That’s what I do with chicken, so I was going to make it work with turkey.
And work it did. Do you see the color on that skin? And let me tell you, it was crisped to perfection. Ina suggests serving the turkey with the pan juices. I’m certainly a fan of gravy, but after a long day of cooking, pan juices sounded good to me. So that’s my turkey. I don’t like turkey and on Thanksgiving I much prefer to get my calories from the dishes that have pounds of butter melted in. Since my blood, sweat and tears went into this one, though, I tried it. And I liked it. Plus my husband called it one of the best he’s ever had. Which is exactly the kind of compliment I’m after in life. Thanksgiving win (now onto Sous Chef Lauren’s and my annual Christmas dinner!).
Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
*adapted from my homegirl, Ina Garten
- 1 whole, bone-in, skin-on turkey breast, 6 1/2 – 7 1/2 lb.
- 1 T minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 1 T chopped, fresh rosemary
- 1 T chopped, fresh sage
- 1 t chopped, fresh thyme
- 2 t Kosher salt
- 1 t fresh ground black pepper
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 C dry, white wine (I have no idea what effect this has. I left it out completely. I forgot. I was busy. I’m sorry.)
A tip before you get started: I take the meat out of the fridge a couple of hours (2-3) before cooking. It makes sense to me that you not put a freezing cold hunk of meat in a burning hot oven. I have no idea whether that’s something you’re supposed to do or not. But it makes sense to me.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the turkey, breast side up, in a roasting pan or on a rack in a roasting pan. What’s the difference? Without the rack, the skin on the bottom of the turkey sits in the pan juices and never crisps up.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a paste. Rub it all over the turkey. If you’re feeling particularly close to your bird, run your hands in between the skin and the meat and get some of that mixture in there as well. There’s a lot I’m willing to do in the name of a juicy turkey. This would be the point, where, if you’re not in a frazzled Thanksgiving hurry, you would pour the cup of wine in the bottom of the pan.
Roast the turkey at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. This lets the skin get really crispy and gives it the color you’ve always dreamed a turkey would have. Then, turn the oven down (Ina likes 325, but I wanted to eat sooner, so I did 375) and roast the turkey about an hour more, until a meat thermometer registers 165 when inserted into the thickest part of the meat (don’t hit the bone!). If your skin is browning too quickly, you can tent the turkey with foil and continue cooking it that way.
Let the turkey rest for 10-15 minutes, then transfer it to a platter, and hire your favorite large, strong man to carve it.