This lesson is 614 words, a 2 min 36 sec reading time. It is the fifth lesson of Lunch 2.0.
Roasted turkey breast is lean, packed with protein, easy to prepare, and next-level delicious - especially on a sandwich. Requiring ~15 minutes of active work and costing ~$2/lb, it is also highly economical. (Compare that to a package of sliced deli turkey, which can reach anywhere from 4-8x that price).
One significant benefit of roasting the breast alone is temperature control. Dark meat requires a higher temp to cook through than white, meaning that the white meat often overcooks, becoming dry & tough. By cooking the breast solo, you can pull it out when done (155°F). This helps ensure a moist, tender, juicy texture.
Go ahead and whip out your digital thermometer. This dish could become a staple in your meal prep repertoire. 🌡
Half turkey breast (bone-in, skin-on, ~4-6lbs)
Kosher salt (½ teaspoon per pound of bird)
Butter (or olive oil)
Roasting pan (or ceramic dish, etc)
Digital thermometer (highly recommended)
Dry brine: pat dry & sprinkle salt all over. Leave uncovered in the fridge for ~8 - 48 hrs.
Preheat oven to 450°F
Mince herbs & mix with butter (or olive oil). Rub over turkey & under the skin. Add pepper (optional).
Place in the oven, turn down to 350°F. Cook for ~60-90 min (~20 min/pound).
Remove when internal temperature reaches 155°F.
Rest for ~30 min.
Slice, serve, enjoy & store leftovers for later!
📝 Notes, Tips & Tricks:
Purchasing & Prep
Bone-in, skin-on, smaller breasts (e.g., ~4 lbs) are juiciest & most flavorful.
These types of breasts aren’t always pre-packaged (most turkeys are sold whole). Ask the butcher at your grocery store for help on this one.
Fully thaw before cooking (~24 hrs in the fridge for every five lbs of turkey)
Dry brining infuses flavor, preserves moisture, and tenderizes the meat. It’s also easier & less messy than wet brining.
Dry brining can occur alongside defrosting (e.g., overnight - 3 days).
Compound butter can include rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon, marjoram, savory, garlic, dry mustard, ground pepper, lemon zest, shallots, etc.
Consider doubling the ratios for herbs & butter to make compound butter. You can store it for future poultry dishes, soups, toasted nuts, roasted vegetables, toast, sandwiches, etc.
Place turkey in the center of the oven to keep cooking even.
If the turkey is getting too browned on the top, cover with aluminum foil.
Pulling it at 155°F will keep the turkey from overcooking. While it rests, the inside will continue increasing in temperature to 160°F.
Resist the temptation to cut into the turkey breast to check doneness unless it has rested for at least 15 minutes. Doing so releases juices, which will dry out the meat.
When resting, juices will emerge. Save for gravy or future broths.
Carving & Storage
To carve, start by inserting your knife between the breast bone and flesh. Draw your knife along the bone to fully detach the meat. Then place the breast on your cutting surface and slice thinly, looking to cut at a diagonal angle that goes against the grain.
Don’t wait a few days to put leftovers in the freezer. Try to anticipate what you will eat, and freeze extra ASAP to preserve freshness.
Wrap turkey tightly to avoid freezer burn. It lasts ~2-3 months in the freezer.
Some great uses of leftover turkey include sandwiches, soups, stews, grain bowls, turkey pot pie.
Compound butter is excellent with: steaks, fish, poultry, toast, sandwiches, omelets, vegetables (e.g., green beans, corn), mashed potatoes.
🎓 Further Study:
Food Safety - Poultry [Life School]
Freezing Meat, Poultry & Fish [Life School]
Building a Balanced Sandwich [Life School]
Danger at the Deli [Consumer Reports]
Compound Butter [NYTimes]