Many people are scared of trying to squeeze in a roasted turkey breast in the middle of the week, usually saving something this time consuming for the weekend. But with a little planning, this turkey recipe can be pulled off on just about any night of the week, it just doesn’t take as long as most people think.
The last time I cooked up a roasted turkey breast, I think I gave myself 20 minutes of prep time and then only a little over an hour in the oven. That’s it. In about an hour and a half, which I know is a bit long for most people on a week night, I was able to get a holiday-type dinner on the table. That may be a stretch for most dinners, but every once in awhile, I’m sure you can find a little extra time and spend 90 minutes on a special dish.
This recipe also has the added benefit of being almost completely hands free, it’s all oven time, so once you get the turkey breast in the pan and in the oven, you are free to do anything else you want. Like making homemade mashed potatoes, or mashed cauliflower if you prefer. Or work out. Or a game with your kids.
Seriously, once you get this turkey into the oven, all you need to do is keep your eye on the thermometer and make sure you don’t overdo it. One note… I normally use a fresh turkey breast, so my timing may be off a little if you are working with a frozen or previously frozen turkey, which obviously needs to be thawed first.
It has been awhile since I have cooked a roasted turkey breast. In fact, since the last time I prepared this recipe, I have had a pretty substantial transition in my dietary and nutritional philosophy. A year ago, or maybe even less than that, I would have simply picked up whatever was easiest at the grocery with little to no regard of what kind of life the turkey might have lead, or what that life might mean for my family’s well being when consuming it.
But that was then, and this is now, and I am no longer satisfied eating a commercially produced turkey that has been raised in over crowded conditions in a metal shack shared with thousands of other birds with no real access to a green pasture, all while being raised on an unnatural diet of genetically modified diet of corn or soy, which simply makes the birds sickly and less nutritious for it’s human consumers.
Is it harder to find an organic pastured raised turkey? Yes, but for me, it is worth it. The environmental considerations are worth it, as are the moral questions of how humanely, or inhumanely, the birds are raised (I’d usually include a link here, but the relevant sites are too disgusting). And of course, the health considerations are paramount. My family is simply much less likely to get sick from the medical and pesticide residues that are left in the turkey by the time it sits on my dinner table.
If you find that the meat from a humanely pasture raised bird is too gamey and not juicy enough, you can probably find a smaller commercial farmer who takes car to raise their turkeys humanely, even if they don’t fit every organic fair trade pastured check box you may have. It will still be delicious and much better for you.
Over the last few years, I have been much more likely to have homemade stock on hand, of one variety or another. Usually pork or chicken. But I find that it doesn’t really matter, either one works to make a wonderful gravy, for this and all sorts of other recipes.
On the nights that I know I want to make a gravy from a roasted turkey breast, I make sure to chop up a few carrots, onions and celery and thrown them in the bottom of the pan I’ll be using. Then, instead of using a rack to hold the turkey upright when roasting, I use the chopped vegetables to prop up the breast, and let them cook in the juices released during the cooking.
After roasting, when the turkey is resting on my cutting board, I place my pan on the stove, being careful not to burn myself on the hot pan, and make a quick gravy out of the juices in the bottom of the pan. I sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of flour and thoroughly mix it in, and bring to a boil. After only a few minutes, it will start to thicken up and you’ll want to reduce the heat. If you like, you can add a tablespoon or two of butter to make the gravy a bit silkier and luxurious, but it’s not necessary.
I usually pour my gravy through a sieve first before serving, just to make it look more presentable. And then I ladle it on anything I can find, because it’s that good!
- 1 turkey breast, usually 4-6 pounds
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees
- Remove turkey breast from the refrigerator and remove packaging
- Trim extra skin from around neck and clean up the turkey
- Place a rack in a pan if needed, and then place turkey breast side up
- Rub butter on turkey and season with plenty of salt and pepper
- Place turkey in oven and heat until meat thermometer inserted in breast registers 165 degrees
- Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing