Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cleo Coyle's Crispy-Skinned Roast Turkey Breast with Herb Butter #Thanksgiving

In our house, there is no such thing as too much turkey! 

Whether you’re having a big party (and want some extra white meat) or you’re having an intimate gathering, consider the turkey breast. During my husband’s childhood, his family celebrated Thanksgiving by cooking a whole stuffed turkey and an unstuffed turkey breast. Their guests enjoyed all that extra white meat, and Marc’s family loved having plenty of leftovers, especially for open-faced turkey sandwiches.

Marc and I now roast turkey breasts like this one all year long. They’re easy to make, a pleasure to eat, and economical—far cheaper than buying turkey lunch meat at the deli (and much tastier). We use the extra white meat for turkey salads and turkey pot pies, too. 

Now let's start cooking!

A Note from Cleo

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.

This herb-butter recipe makes one beautiful bird with crispy, golden brown skin and meat that's full of flavor. The secret to the skin is butter--oil alone won't do it. And the key to flavoring the meat is placing the herb butter in the pocket beneath the turkey skin and right next to the breast meat. If you've never done this, it's a technique worth learning because the flavor it imparts is wonderful. 

(When you apply herbs and seasonings only on top of the skin, the skin is flavored but not so much the meat underneath. This method allows the herbs and seasonings to penetrate the meat--and the butter helps to keep the meat moist, as well.) 

You can also adapt this method for use on a larger, whole turkey. Simply double the ingredients for the herb-butter slurry and adjust your cooking time. Consult with your large turkey’s package directions, and be sure to add cooking time for a stuffed turkey, which takes longer than an unstuffed bird. However you enjoy Thanksgiving (with or without turkey), we hope you will...

Cook with love and eat with joy!
 ~ Cleo, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries


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Cleo's Crispy-Skinned 
Roast Turkey Breast
with Herb Butter

Makes one 5 to 8 pound turkey breast


1 fresh* turkey breast, bone-in, skin on, 5 to 8 pounds

1-½ stick (12 tablespoons) salted butter, divided

1 tablespoons olive oil (+ a bit more for greasing)

1 tablespoon Bell Seasoning (or 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning)

1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

1/2 tablespoon dried, ground sage 

1/2 tablespoon white pepper

1/2 tablespoon coarsely ground sea salt (or pink salt)

*Note: This method is for a fresh turkey breast, which we highly recommend. If using a frozen breast, be sure to thaw it first. For directions on how to thaw a turkey breast safely, click here.


Step 1—Prep the turkey and pan: First preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Wash the turkey breast thoroughly, inside and out. Let it dry at room temperature for about 20 minutes. For easy cleanup, line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil and place a rack inside. Grease the rack well with olive oil. 

Step 2—Make the slurry: Soften 1 stick of butter. In a small bowl. combine the soft butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, Bell seasoning (or poultry seasoning), rosemary, thyme, sage, white pepper, and sea salt. Blend until you have a soft paste. The slurry should take on an herbal green hue.  

Making the herb butter slurry...
Step 3—Create pockets beneath skin: Lift the skin of the turkey breast as shown below. Using a tablespoon, gently separate the skin from the meat on one side of the breast and then the other. You are making "pockets," which you will fill with herb butter in the next step. Note that the videos below have been sped up a bit. Be sure to take your time and be gentle. Try not to rip the skin...

Use a tablespoon to make a pocket
on one side of the turkey breast...

...and then the other. Be sure
to take your time and be gentle.
Try not to rip the skin.
Step 4—Stuff the pockets with herb butter: Using clean fingers, stuff about three-quarters of the herb-butter slurry into the pockets you made between the skin and the breast meat. Begin by pushing a bit of the butter all the way down, into each pocket, and continue adding more butter, filling each pocket and spreading the softened butter to cover the entire breast. Use the remaining slurry to completely coat the outside of the turkey breast. Then place the turkey on the greased rack of your roasting pan.

Stuff the herb-butter slurry
into the "pockets" between
 the skin and the breast meat.

Slather the remaining slurry around
the outside of the turkey breast and
 place the breast on the pan's rack.

Step 5—Roast the turkey breast: Place the turkey on the center rack of the preheated oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes per pound. Turn the pan once or twice during cooking to ensure the breast roasts evenly. During the last 45 minutes of roasting, melt the remaining ½ stick of butter (2 ounces) and baste generously with that and the pan drippings, every ten to fifteen minutes. The butter will turn the skin a nice golden brown. NOTE: To prevent skin from browning too much near the end of the cooking process, loosely tent aluminum foil around the breast until finished. 

Step 6—Finish the turkey breast: When the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (or the automatic timer in the breast pops), remove turkey breast from the oven. Lift the turkey breast and rack from the cooking pan so you can make gravy with the pan drippings. Tent foil over the breast to keep warm and allow it to rest at room temperature at least 20 minutes before carving—this resting time is important for the juices to re-collect so your breast meat will stay moist and you can...

Eat with Thanksgiving joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Alice and Marc in Central Park. 
Together we write as Cleo Coyle. 

Learn more about us here.
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