Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Our Secret to Crispy-Skinned Roast Turkey by Cleo Coyle (Early) #Thanksgiving


This coming Friday kicks off two weeks of Thanksgiving season recipes here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, so be sure to check back for wonderful foodie ideas from our fellow bloggers.

Our "official" Cleo Thanksgiving post will go up Tuesday, November 23rd, which is so close to the feast that we feared our recipe and turkey tips would be shared too late to be helpful. Our solutions is this "early" holiday post, and we hope you enjoy it because...

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

☕ A Note from Cleo

Cleo Coyle writes two
bestselling mystery
 series with her husband.
To learn more, click here.

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 was happy to have the leftovers, especially for open-faced turkey sandwiches.

Whether you’re having a big party (and want extra white meat) or you’re simply having an intimate gathering, the turkey breast is a great solution. 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.

Our 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 because 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.

You see, 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 easily 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), Marc and I sincerely hope you will cook with love and eat with joy.

~ Cleo

To download this recipe in a
free PDF document that you can
print, save, or share,
 click here

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

Yield: Makes one 5 to 8 pound turkey breast
(for a larger, whole bird, see my note* below)


1 fresh turkey breast, bone-in, skin on, 5 to 8 pounds (
If using frozen, be sure to thaw it first, see my second note** below on thawing)

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)

*For 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. 

**If using a frozen breast, thaw it first. For great tips on how to thaw a turkey breast safelyclick here, which will give you thawing times by weight. And note... 

Never thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature or in hot water because these methods promote the growth of dangerous bacteria. Instead, thaw your frozen turkey in the fridge or in cold water. Again, click here for info on safe thawing methods and thawing times by weight.


Step 1—Prep the turkey and pan: First preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. (Temperature may be lower for a larger, whole bird. See the instructions on your turkey's packaging.) 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 sider.

Remember that we sped up these videos.
You should take your time with this process.
Be gentle and go very slowly to avoid
ripping 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!

New York Times bestselling author
of The Coffeehouse Mysteries and
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

This is me -- Cleo (Alice) 
with my husband Marc.

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