Remember summer? Remember bright blue skies, long green grass, hot sun, warm rain and… strawberries? Back in July I made this strawberry jam with the very last of the season’s strawberries: kind of sweet, kind of savory, and a loose set just perfect for turning into a quick and easy marinade on a winter’s Monday night. The smell of strawberry when I popped the top on the jar was incredible and instantly took me back to a hot summer’s day, in the strawberry fields at Jones Family Farm with my friend Alison, burning our shoulders and staining our fingertips red for a week. Ah, summer. One of the best, if not the best, reasons to preserve the season is to be able to pop open a little jar of summer in the middle of a frigid February afternoon.
I make this basic roasted turkey dish often; sometimes with cranberry sauce, sometimes with rhubarb rosemary jelly or a citrus marmalade, sometimes simply with herbs. I’ve tweaked the method too; times of marinating, high heat cooking or slow roasting, pre-roast sear or no. Over the course of many roasted turkey dinners, I am refining my technique. Soon, I’ll have it perfect and this particular bird came pretty close. The pre-roast sear in a very hot pan results in a nicely crispy and flavorful skin once the turkey is out of the oven. The lower roasting temperature not only keeps the meat juicy and tender, it seems to add a dimension of flavor, like slowly caramelizing onions, that is missing in the high-heat method. One thing I’ll change next time: strawberry is a much less intense flavor than cranberry or rhubarb. The strawberry flavor got a little lost over the roasting period, and the reduction sauce tasted more of wine and caramelized sugar than anything else. Next time I will try to marinate overnight, then scrape off the marinade, roast the turkey ‘bare’, and reduce the marinade slowly on the stovetop, to try to preserve some of the gorgeous red color and strawberry flavor. And, in the Ever-Evolving Roasted Turkey Recipe, we shall see how it goes.
Strawberry Balsamic Roasted Turkey
- one 2 and 1/2 to 3-lb half turkey breast, bone-in
- 1 cup strawberry balsamic jam (or low-sugar strawberry jam)
- 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or 3 to 4 tbsp if using regular strawberry jam)
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or 1/2 tsp if using regular jam)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup of wine or vermouth, for reduction sauce
- 6 strawberries (fresh or frozen), optional
- Mix the jam, vinegar, salt & pepper together in a small bowl. Rinse the turkey breast well in cold, running water and pat dry. In a small baking or roasting dish, just big enough to hold the turkey breast, place the turkey and cover liberally with marinade. Allow to marinate, refrigerated, for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (350 degrees F convection).
- Scrape the marinade off of the turkey breast with a spoon or spatula (reserve marinade). Heat a heavy-bottomed, large skillet over high heat for 2 – 3 minutes, or until very hot. Add the olive oil, swirl to coat the pan, then quickly add the turkey breast, skin side down, to sear. Allow turkey to brown for 3 – 5 minutes; flip over and brown the underside for a minute or two. Transfer back to the roasting pan (or, if your skillet is the right size and oven-safe, you can roast right in the skillet).
- Roast in the preheated oven until a thermometer inserted at the thickest point reads 165 degrees F, about 1 – 1and 1/2 hours, depending on the thickness of the breast meat. Check early and often to ensure that you do not overcook the turkey. If the skin is not crispy once the turkey is nearly cooked through, place the pan under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes in order to crisp up the skin.
- Remove from the oven and tent a piece of foil over the meat; allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, deglaze the roasting pan with a little wine or vermouth and reduce the pan juices for serving. If you have strawberries, slice in half and toss them into the reduction sauce in the last few minutes of cooking. Serve sliced turkey, garnished with reduction sauce.
Yields 4 to 6 servings.
- The options are limited only by your imagination and by the jam in your larder. Check out Cranberry Roasted Turkey Breast and Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast for more ideas.
- Chicken, especially bone-in chicken, would work well here too.
Up to 5 days refrigerated.
Winter or year round.