It was a lovely warm Spring holiday Sunday today. We broke out our short sleeves and our bikes, and a’ ridin’ to Whole Foods for feast fodder we went. I expected there to be a crowd, as there was yesterday (when I saw Giovanni Ribisi walking into the store through the rain – no lie! Cambridge is a hotbed of celebrities…), but it was surprisingly sedate. The selection of lamb was way picked over; I was in the mood for a braised shoulder, but all they had left were shanks and stew meat. No matter; they also had some lovely boneless turkey breast at an enticing price of $3.99 a pound. Since Clayton’s been making his lunch these days, and loves himself a good homemade sandwich, I thought: why not? It was festive — fitting for a feast day — and practical, and with a few simple sides and an elegant butter sauce, it would be a perfect way to cap the weekend and welcome the work week. Hearty but light, rich but simple – please, sir, may I have some more?
Herb Roasted Buttered Turkey Breast with Royal Trumpet Mushroom Sauce, Honeyed Carrots, Mashed Potatoes, and Simple EVOO’d Greens
1 3.5lb boneless, skin-on, rolled and tied turkey breast
1 stick butter
1 lb bundle of small fresh carrots
1/2 cup honey
8 oz fresh Royal trumpet mushrooms
1 small shallot
1 lb yukon gold potatoes
baby romaine lettuce
You can see that once it’s unrolled, it’s really just a large slab of breast meat folded in half. Tying it up helps unify the shape, so that it cooks evenly and doesn’t dry out at the tips before fully cooking through the fat center. I rinse this pink quivering solid mass of yumyum, pat it dry, then lay it skin side down on my paper. I lay a few large sage leaves and a healthy abundance of rosemary in the crease.
I’ll admit right now — I have never learned to tie meat properly. I lay out my butcher’s twine in what seems to be a logical way, but then I end up mangling the packing into shape submission with a wish and a prayer. Yes, yes, I know: I’m on a computer when I’m doing this, why don’t I just Google “how to tie turkey breast?” — but I’m busy, people. Cooking and taking pictures and managing not to cross-contaminate everything in my kitchen with raw poultry lube in the process is tricky – and tapping away at my keyboard to find an answer I feel I should naturally know just seems wrong. So I’ll keep going trial and error, until I remember to look this stuff up *before* I get all in medias res.
My erratically tied bosom does provide me with the scaffolding by which to tuck more savory herb leaves against the skin, and I sprinkle it all down with sea salt and black pepper. I make a roughly football sized bundle of meat.
I’ve cut two lengths of cheesecloth, just enough to cover my turkey breast completely. This is a technique I’ve used for whole turkeys before, and I thought it would work nicely for just a breast, which didn’t have the moistening factor of bones within and a full fatty skin without. I douse each piece of cheesecloth in melted EVOO butter…
… to baste with the drippings. The house fills with the robust aroma of herbs and sizzling savory meat.
When my turkey temps at 170 degrees, it’s just about ready. At that point, I pull it out of the oven just to drain off its sweet sweet buttery turkeyey drippings. I slide the pan back in the oven to bring the turktemp up to 175.
… into which I dump my chopped mushrooms, a minced shallot, and some salt and pepper. I stir this up nicely over medium high heat, allowing the mushrooms to soften and absorb all the luscious flavorful fat meltings off the turkey.
I add a few tablespoons at a time of the fat, stirring constantly, until 3/4 of it has been added to the mushrooms. I let this simmer for a few moments, before adding about a tablespoon of flour and whisking well. This doesn’t turn this sauce into a thick gravy — rather, it adds a substantialness to the thin butter sauce, making it more of a savory glaze, just perfect for spooning over my mashed potatoes (which I’ve also been preparing on the back burner, boiled and then draining and mashing them, then adding the remaining roasting drippings (oh yeah, baby — butter AND turkey) and some heavy cream and whisking well).
This is one beautiful bosom. A golden brown, juicy, tender, supple, white tanned breast crusted with crispy skin, dripping with butter, and clothed in leaves of flavor. I carefully cut all the strings off, and let the meat set for a few moments before slicing.
Dear Tender, meet Juicy. She’s so supple you can cut her with a glance, and her golden buttery mushroom cape bursts under the most gentle pressure of your feeding fork. An ethereal potato pillow stages the scene, and the sweetly roasted carrot spears and some quick EVOO-tossed baby romaine (with salt and pepper and nothing but) accessorizes the beauty queen layered insouciantly across the center of the plate. Sorry, Mr. Knife — you’re not invited to dinner. Fork and I will do just fine…