Turkey is great any time – not just on Thanksgiving. And there is no cut on a turkey that yields more meat than the breast; it is great for leftovers in salads, quesadillas, or chopped up and added to a casserole or other dish. The problem is, especially with your typical “boneless skinless” breast, that it often ends up under-flavored and over-cooked…yielding a lot of meat, but meat that is dry and without much character. There are, however, a couple of tricks to solving this dilemma: Go for a bone-in and skin-on breast, and roast slowly at a lower temperature with time to rest afterward to ensure the juices stay locked in.
- 1 half turkey breast (about 3-1/2 lbs), bone in and skin on
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2~3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 8-inch sprig fresh rosemary leaves, chopped (about 1 tbsp)
- 10 fresh sage leaves (about 1-1/2″ long), chopped (about 1 tbsp)
- 5~6 short sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only (about 1 tsp)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3/4 cup Chardonnay (or any inexpensive dry white wine)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees – convection if you have it. Grab a roasting pan with an accompanying rack that will fit over or inside to hold the turkey at least 1″ or more over the bottom of the pan. Place the breast on the rack, skin side up.
Mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, rosemary, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Work your hand under the skin of the turkey breast, pulling it away from the meat except along the very edges. Holding the skin up, spoon about two-thirds of the herb mixture under the skin and spread around evenly (just spreading it on top of the skin serves to flavor the skin, but NOT the actual meat!).
Let the skin lay back over the mixture and spread the remaining mixture over the skin and the sides/edges of the breast, making sure to get some on any exposed meat more so than on the skin. Stab a meat thermometer or meat probe (if your oven is so equipped) into the breast so that it is reading about 1/2″ or so from the bone on the bottom side, without touching the bone.
Pour the Chardonnay into the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook for roughly 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 hours – just until the thermometer reads 165 degrees (this is when it is nice to have a probe with remote readout and alarm or one that is built into the oven). Check it after about an hour – if the skin is getting too brown and crispy you can cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
Remove the breast from the oven and immediately cover the pan with foil. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board. Carve the breast from the bone, then slice across in 1/2″ thick slices to serve. Depending on whether you have a free-range turkey or a store-bought one, you can choose to serve it with the skin on or off (since we seasoned both). And make sure to keep the leftovers tightly sealed to keep the moisture in as well. Dig in!