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First time Roasting Turkey Breast
November 27, 2011 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Question about turkey roasting for a turkey-cooking newbie.

I am gonna have some people over for a post-Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving-esque meal. I don't eat meat, but cook it for others. I want to make a tofurkey for the non-meat eaters and myself, and I plan on using this recipe, since I've had great success with it in the past. I was planning on getting turkey breast, and making an extra large batch or the cherry-onion sauce to use on the turkey as well as the tofurkey.

I understand that the Turkey is going to take longer to roast than the tofurkey. Can I use the same method? Can I foil wrap the turkey breast with the sauce and then roast it uncovered for the last ten minutes or so? Any recipe I see for roast turkey breast with sauce calls for roasting the turkey first, then adding sauce later. Is there a reason it shouldn't roast with the sauce?

Any advice on turkey breast roasting is welcome.
posted by piratebowling to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can never go wrong with Ina Garten: Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast.
posted by la petite marie at 6:53 PM on November 27, 2011


Generally the issue i've had with roasting the entire time with sauce on has to do with the sugars in the sauce getting baked too long and forming an overly-crisp crust on the meat (not to mention a carbon-like, impossible to clean surface on the bottom of the roasting pan). I usually do something more like Ina's where the rub contains oils, salt & pepper and herbs rather than sugar. The cherry onion sauce sounds great and could be spooned on in the last 5 or 10 mins, or just served along side.
posted by moshimosh at 6:58 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The sauce definitely doesn't harden while cooking the tofurkey, although that's only in the oven for 45 minutes, and not an hour and a half or more. So, it sounds like it's a time issue with the sauce? I'll do the rub/sauce near the end route.
posted by piratebowling at 7:23 PM on November 27, 2011


Ina Garten's recipe above works fine for a turkey breast. I improvised this year, rubbed garlic-herb-oil paste under my breast's skin and roasted at 350 until done. A meat thermometer is essential to be sure it gets done, because it could vary +/-25% or more in timing, and overcooked turkey can be hard to eat.

If you buy a full breast, keeping it upright is difficult. It's a very awkward shape without the legs to keep it stable. Use a roasting tray and a V-shaped roasting rack. If you don't have a V-shaped rack, use aluminum foil and/or vegetables, and kind of prop it up. Otherwise, roast it on its side and flip it halfway through.
posted by WasabiFlux at 7:25 PM on November 27, 2011


Also, If I opt for cutlets instead of a full breast, since it cooks much faster, would the baking with sauce method work well? I'm a little afraid to go the cutlet route, since they seem much more prone to overcooking in a short period of time.
posted by piratebowling at 7:35 PM on November 27, 2011


My 5-pound full breast (bone-on) was done in just under an hour, started at 400 and then turned down to 350. If you can find a half breast, it should cook as quickly as the Tofurky, if that's enough to feed everyone who wants meat.
posted by WasabiFlux at 7:46 PM on November 27, 2011


Yeah, don't do cutlets. They'll be dry as fuck unless you stand over them and baste constantly. The skin and fat keep it moist. And then there's the best option of all: put bacon over the breast. It is the most magic, awesome, wonderful thing ever - I've never overcooked a turkey when there's bacon on the top. And it tastes awesome.

I think turkey breast is the best choice for what you've want (I would advocate for full bird, but if you don't plan to use the carcass for stock/soup, it's a waste...unless a guest would take it for you).
posted by guster4lovers at 7:55 PM on November 27, 2011


3 things have helped me master turkey:

1) brine the turkey before cooking - I use less salt than most brines call for as I've ended up with overly salty turkey in the past. But, the salt is critical to push more moisture into the meat

2) use an instant read thermometer to monitor cooking, don't depend on time alone

3) let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting to allow juices to redistribute. I tent with foil and cover with a dishtowel, but if you want crispy skin or have bacon on the outside of the meat, loosely tent with openings to avoid steaming the skin/bacon (making it flabby)
posted by quince at 8:02 PM on November 27, 2011


I don't think you can beat the Good Eats Roast Turkey recipe. It's pretty much foolproof and everyone raves about how good it is.

The bird:
- I usually start with a ~7 lb. frozen turkey breast and put it in the fridge to thaw 3 days before cooking. (2 days to thaw, 1 day to brine)

The brine:
- Cut the brine recipe in half if just doing a breast. I brine in a stock pot instead of a 5-gallon bucket.
- You can skip the ginger, allspice, and peppercorns and still get 95% of the flavor. Use them if handy, but I wouldn't go out of your way to buy any of them just for this recipe. The salt is really the key.

The aromatics:
- I don't think they add much with the shorter cooking time of a breast compared to a full bird. I would skip them unless you are really sticking to the recipe.

The equipment:
- Adjustable V-shaped roasting rack to keep the breast upright
- Roasting pan with good handles
- Oven mitts capable of handling a 500 degree roasting pan (I prefer Orka)
- Remote probe digital thermometer with temp alarm (mine broke on Thanksgiving, ended up using this instead and it worked perfectly)

Safety tips:
- Make sure your oven is clean before attempting this recipe.
- You may want to *temporarily* cover any nearby smoke detectors.

Essentially, I'm just expanding on what quince said: brine, cook to temp, let it rest.
posted by Max Camber at 11:29 PM on November 27, 2011


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