The moment you have all been waiting for, it’s time to reveal the star of Thanksgiving dinner—my Herbed Turkey Breast with Roasted Apples. Honestly, does it get more autumnal than this?
Turkey is a staple during Thanksgiving, and has always been a tradition to have this for Thanksgiving dinner probably for decades now. While cooking an entire turkey is fun and a bit of a culinary challenge, that is WAY too much for two people! So, for a smaller crowd, I opted to cook a turkey breast. I picked up this fantastic, locally-raised turkey breast from the butcher at Red Barn grocery store here in Victoria. I find that with basically all meats, buying local and free-range (if available) really has its benefits. Not only does the meat taste more flavourful (the way meat should taste) you also support your local farmers. A total win-win! I found this skin-on turkey breast to be incredibly rich and flavourful despite just being the turkey breast (i.e. white meat), and frankly, I didn’t miss the dark meat at all! If you have the option to buy local or free-range, definitely do it! The better quality meat, the less work you have to do to it to make it taste delicious!
Even though I didn’t cook a whole turkey, the turkey breast was still huge—and more than enough for two people. This turkey breast was almost 4 pounds! We definitely had lots of leftovers for a few days. I baked the turkey at 350 degrees F, fairly low heat, for about an hour and 45 minutes. The basic rule of thumb is to cook the turkey for 20 minutes per pound. The turkey is done when it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees F, so I like to remove the turkey breast from the oven once it reaches 160 degrees F. Then, I cover it with tinfoil and let it rest on the counter for another 20-30 minutes to let it finish cooking. This resting time also makes the turkey breast nice and juicy!
This turkey breast came wrapped in cotton netting to keep the whole breast together through the cooking process. I began the cooking the turkey breast with the netting on, and about halfway through cooking I removed it so that the breast could expand a bit, and so that I could avoid having the white marks left on the turkey breast from the netting once cooked… the ‘turkey tan lines’ as I like to call it LOL. I also basted the turkey in a mixture of butter, olive oil, sage and thyme- classic for Thanksgiving- about every 20-30 minutes or so. This ensures that the turkey breast gets nice and evenly browned, and that the skin will get nice and crisp. I also nestled the entire breast on top of a bed of sliced apples and onions which take on all the flavour of the turkey and give the dish and the gravy a bit of sweetness.
And yes, the GRAVY… possibly the best part of Thanksgiving dinner. While the turkey is resting, I pour all the turkey juices from the pan into a sauce pot and add about 1 ½ cups of chicken stock. I bring all that to a boil and then add a slurry of 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and some water to thicken the gravy. I was really pleased with the extra little sweetness from the apples in the gravy. It’s just a little twist on the traditional turkey gravy.
Once the gravy is done, I go ahead and carve the turkey breast. Luckily, there are no bones in the breast, making it super easy for carving. All you need is a sharp knife to cut through the breast. Place a few slices on your plate and enjoy it with all the gravy and side dishes you want. May I suggest my recipes for Chive Mashed Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts with Shallots & Pancetta or Traditional Bread Stuffing?