Dark Days: Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast

Ever notice how when one thing runs out in your pantry everything else seems to follow? I had one of those weeks. We have a Christmas party every year, and I’ve been prepping all week. In making pastry dough for this apple pie and mini swiss chard quiches, I ran out of Wild Hive pastry flour and had to pick some up from the store (and let me tell you – Bob’s Red Mill is SO not the same!). Then I noticed that the all-purpose and bread flours were running low as well. Clearly, time for a Wild Hive order. I used the last of my fresh rosemary making this sauce, and then made this chicken soup for dinner but realized I was out of chicken stock and dried dill (the lack of sun this summer resulted in very limited dried herb stocks this winter). Time for a roasted chicken dinner and a search for some greenhouse dill and rosemary at the local markets. While making Tai’s weekly batch of granola, I used the last of the honey, maple syrup and oats. Honey & syrup I can get from New England Farms at the South Salem market next week, but sadly, Wild Hive is currently out of rolled oats, so again, back to the store. The final blow came when I ran out of my local sea salt, and John at Holbrook Farm told me that Kenyon’s were out the last time he ordered: calamity!

All this just reminds me that a locavore has to plan ahead. Not only do we need to think about the dark days while in the height of summer, making sure to freeze, store, dry and can enough produce to get us through the long winter, but even pantry staples take a little more planning. Small producers often run low on stock, because they simply cannot afford to keep a huge inventory on hand. Even pantry staples like flour, corn meal, oats, honey, and maple syrup have their seasonality. While this extra planning may seem like a pain, it is not really any extra work, just extra thought. And whenever I am stuck with using store-bought ingredients from “way out there,” I am reminded of the shocking difference in taste and quality, and I am extra thankful for the farmers, producers and artisans who provide the food that I enjoy every day.

Even with the pantry stocks running low there was plenty of good local eating this week. Wild Hive rosemary wheat bread slathered with Nettle Meadow herbed chevre made for a quick and easy lunch when paired with a Fishkill Farms Mutsu apple. New England Farms eggs scrambled with Madura Farms fresh parsley and Bardwell Farms aged goat cheese made a delicious breakfast. Tonight’s turkey dinner was no exception: I had an Empire Kosher turkey breast in the freezer and decided to try cooking it at high-heat with no basting and no marinade. It was very tasty, and the skin came out wonderfully. Served with fresh farmer’s market greens, rosemary juniper cranberry sauce and spicy oven-fried sweet potatoes, it was a lovely dinner on a cold, rainy winter night.

Adapted from My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken, Thomas Keller on Epicurious

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Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast

INGREDIENTS

  • one 2 lb half turkey breast, preferably organic or Kosher, skin-on and bone-in
  • 1/2 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 – 2 tsp mixed dried herbs
  • 1/4 cup wine, optional

METHODS

  1. Wash the turkey breast in cool water, then dry very well with paper towels or a clean tea towel. Pour the salt all over the turkey skin, coating liberally. If you have time, leave the turkey uncovered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, to aid in drying out & crisping the skin. Allow turkey to come to room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes prior to cooking.
  2. Place an oven-safe skillet, just large enough for the turkey breast, in the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  3. Remove the hot skillet from the oven and keep hot over high heat on the stovetop. Add the turkey breast to the hot skillet, skin side down, and allow to sear, without touching, for 3 – 5 minutes, or until the skin is lightly browned. Flip the turkey breast so the skin side is up and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Roast turkey breast at 450 degrees F until the internal temperature at the breast is at least 165 degrees F (I like 170 degrees), about 45 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes; tent loosely with foil or place under an inverted bowl. While the turkey rests, heat the pan juices over medium heat until bubbling. If you wish, de-glaze the pan with wine and scrape up any browned bits. Add the herbs, and stirring constantly, reduce the pan sauce until it thickens slightly. Pour the pan sauce over the turkey breast and bring to the table to carve.

Serves 4 to 6.

OPTIONS

  1. This amount of Kosher salt yields a salty, but delightfully crunchy skin. If you like a less salty flavor, cut the amount of salt to about 1 tsp.
  2. In season, fresh herbs would work nicely with this recipe as they only cook for a few minutes in the pan sauce.

STORE

Refrigerated for up to 5 days. Freeze the bone for stock.

SEASON

Year-round.

LOCAL RESOURCES

Turkey

  • Turkey breast: Empire Kosher, Mifflintown, PA
  • Kosher salt: Away (Penzey’s)
  • White wine: Harvest Time, Jones Family Winery, Shelton, CT
  • Dried herbs: home-dried summer herbs from Ryder Farm and my garden
  • Fresh thyme: my indoor herb pot
  • Baby greens, Madura Farms, Goshen, NY

Cranberry Sauce

Oven Fries

  • Sweet potatoes:  Madura Farms, Goshen, NY (available at the Gossett Brother’s Nursery Farm Market, South Salem, NY, Saturdays, 9-1pm, through the winter)
  • Chile powder: dried, ground hot chile peppers from the CSA, Ryder Farm, Brewster, NY
  • Butter: Ronnybrook, Ancramdale, NY
  • Kosher salt: away (Penzey’s)

One comment

  1. Neha

    This looks fantastic! My family don’t usually celebrate Christmas (as we’re Hindu) but we were thinking of doing a small-ish Christmas dinner as half of the family does eat meat, and this looks like the perfect idea to try out! Thank you for the inspiration 🙂

    If you get a moment, please do have a look at my cookery blog – I’d appreciate your thoughts: http://shortcakeandsnap.wordpress.com thank you!

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