This year Bob and I hosted a Christmas celebration in Chicago for his parents the weekend before Christmas. This was my first holiday dinner, and really my first big dinner where I was responsible for the entire meal. I was so excited but very nervous. I knew I wanted to make a turkey breast, since there were just 4 of us, but I had never made one before. My 'practice' turkey breast was a flop because we accidentally bought a turkey breast roast, which is boneless, and I'm convinced it was injected with saline or something because it was overly salty.
In searching for a fool-proof recipe for the turkey breast, I found this one of Ina Garten's that had 5 stars on Food Network - there were SO many overwhelmingly positive reviews, I couldn't pass it up. This turkey was so incredible - it was juicy (thanks to my remote control digital meat thermometer!) and so flavorful. I think rubbing the herb paste underneath the skin is key - it allows the flavors to penetrate the meat. I made a gravy to go with this (ok by "made" I mean opened a can and added some bourbon!) but I ate mine plain - it was that juicy and good.
One of my reasons for serving it with gravy, instead of pan juices like the recipe suggests, was two-fold: 1) Bob's favorite food is gravy (sadly not kidding) and he would be devastated without it, and 2) reviewers on Food Network noted that they had to keep adding wine or water to the pan and it would keep evaporating so they weren't left with much pan juice in the end. I had a similar issue - the pan juices browned and stuck to the pan as the 'juice' dissipated. If you'd like to use the pan juices for the turkey (which I'm sure would be delicious given the herbs, lemon juice, and wine), I recommend adding much more wine or water or a combination, then checking occasionally and adding more as needed. Yes, the holidays are over, but a turkey breast can be great any time of year, especially if you use the leftovers to make turkey soup, one of my favs!
Sorry no pic of the intact bird - things were a little hectic!
A boneless turkey breast I made in January:
Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
Note: This recipe is for a bone-in turkey breast, but I have since made it again using a boneless turkey breast and it came out fantastic as well. Use what you like!
1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 6 1/2 - 7 pounds (mine was almost 8)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves (I used 1 teaspoon dried)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons good olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup dry white wine
Preheat oven to 325F.
1. Wash turkey breast and pat dry with paper towels if desired. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.
2. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a paste.
3. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly on the skin. Pour the wine into the bottom of the roasting pan. Note: At this point you may want to add extra wine or water to the pan because, as I indicated above, the liquid evaporates rather quickly.
4. Roast the turkey for 1 3/4 - 2 hours (or longer if it's bigger), until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165F when inserted into the thickest and meatiest areas of the breast (test several places to be sure). Note: If the skin is over-browning during the cooking process, cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil.
5. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest to room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the pan juices spooned over the turkey, or with gravy.
Source: Adapted from Ina Garten