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By Dana Jacobi
Each Thanksgiving I offer my readers the same timesaving advice: Roast a turkey breast rather than a full bird. Roasting a smaller breast yields the same amount of meat as a larger bird, and is far easier to handle.
To serve eight guests, plan for an 8-pound breast, which will provide as much meat as a 10-12 pound turkey. Two breasts will produce more than enough meat for a larger crowd; if you set them sideways, each breast facing in the opposite direction, they may even fit into one large roasting pan. If cooking for two to four people – as many of us do these days – a 6-pound breast will provide generous leftovers.
Although brining the bird is very much in vogue (a process that involves soaking the meat in a salt solution prior to cooking), it is a practice I do not favor. The extra work is a bother and the end result tastes overly salty to me. My secret to producing succulent meat? Spring for a fresh breast rather than a frozen one, preferably buying a premium brand. I also skip the basting, instead inserting orange slices, fresh herbs mixed with some oil, or thin apple slices under the skin to keep it moist.
Italian friends of mine go a step farther in flavoring and protecting the breast meat of their turkey by spreading a paste of roasted walnuts and herbs liberally between the meat and skin. The result tastes like stuffing and resembles it somewhat in texture. To roast nuts at home, place them on an ungreased baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 8 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Making the perfect gravy to accompany this feast starts by packing the breast cavity with an apple and shallots, then deglazing the roasting pan with apple cider and the reserved pan juices. Spooned over the sliced turkey and served with walnut “stuffing,” the combination offers an unexpected and unforgettable meal.
Makes 10 servings.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
9 g total fat
1 g saturated fat
11 g carbohydrate
44 g protein
1 g dietary fiber
200 mg sodium
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