Cooking a Turkey Breast for Thanksgiving
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Cooking a turkey breast for Thanksgiving is a great option if you’re having about 6 people over. For this recipe, the turkey breast is stuffed with rosemary, cranberries and pine nuts and is roasted with root vegetables. I’ve paired it with the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Syrah for the spicy, smoky notes that go so well with turkey. This recipe is sponsored by Columbia Crest.
This year we have a small group for Thanksgiving dinner. I wasn’t sure what to do at first since a turkey serves so many people. But then I remembered experimenting with roasting boneless turkey breasts a few years ago. What I discovered was that cooking a turkey breast is the perfect thing to do if you don’t have a lot of people coming over. It serves about 6 and is easy to work with. And really easy to carve.
The recipe I’m sharing with you today covers the entree and two side dishes of your meal all in one roasting pan. Thanksgiving dinner was never easier. But don’t worry, this isn’t a boring recipe. You’ll get your hands dirty stuffing the turkey and you’re going to love the play of flavors in both the stuffing and the roasted vegetable mixture. If you just have to go ahead and roast that full bird, here’s how I do that, but I’m telling you this is perfect for a smaller group.
The turkey breast is stuffed with bread cubes, rosemary, dried cranberries, pine nuts and lots of black pepper. Then the turkey breast is surrounded by a mixture of root vegetables. It’s a usual root vegetable medley but with the addition of the less familiar fennel. If you haven’t had fennel before, it has a texture similar to celery but with a sweet licorice flavor that gets very mellow when roasted.
This recipe is a complete meal but you might want to add some bread and butter or a salad. Or you could go with a traditional Thanksgiving side dish like a Sweet Potato Casserole (this one has a healthy twist) or a Green Bean Casserole (this one’s made from scratch with roasted fresh green beans) for something extra. If you really want to go the extra mile, here are some great additional sides to serve.
For the end of the meal, my favorite Thanksgiving dessert is Pumpkin Pie. I like it with a lot of cinnamon and cloves. This recipe has a good dose of spice and a dollop of bourbon-spiked whipped cream for on top.
And now, here’s my recipe for Roasted Turkey Breast with Pine Nut Cranberry Stuffing and Roasted Root Vegetables:
Cooking a turkey breast for Thanksgiving is a great option if you’re having about 6 people over. For this recipe, the turkey breast is stuffed with rosemary, cranberries and pine nuts and is roasted with root vegetables.
- 1 and ½ cups day-old bread cubes (about 5 slices)
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- Coarse black pepper
- ½ cup to 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- Butcher’s twine
- 3lb. boneless skinless turkey breast, butterflied
- 4 carrots, peeled
- 2 medium heads fennel, trimmed and cored
- 2 lbs. potatoes, in 1-inch cubes
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Into a large bowl put the bread cubes, dried cranberries, pine nuts, rosemary, 1 teaspoon of coarse black pepper and ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Add ½ cup of the chicken broth. Mix well. If the bread isn’t damp add up to ½ cup more broth (how much you add depends on the type of bread and how dry it was to start with).
- Cut five (18-inch) pieces of butcher’s twine and arrange them parallel to each other on a work surface.
- Season the turkey breast lightly on both sides with salt and pepper and then place it nicest-side-down across the pieces of twine.
- Arrange the bread stuffing along the middle of the turkey breast, leaving an inch at the edges.
- Wrap the turkey around the stuffing and secure in five places with the twine. Place in a large roasting pan.
- Slice the carrots and fennel ¼ inch thick. Toss them in a large bowl with the potatoes, olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of coarse black pepper.
- Arrange around the turkey in the roasting pan.
- Roast for 30 minutes. Gently stir the vegetables.
- Continue to cook until the roast is 160F in the center, 20-30 more minutes. Transfer turkey to a rimmed plate to catch any juices while it rests.
- Return vegetables to the oven to continue to cook for 10 more minutes. If you’d like, use a broiler so that the vegetables develop some brown color, but watch them carefully so they don’t burn.
- Cut the 5 pieces of butcher’s twine and remove them from around the turkey breast. Discard.
- Slice the turkey into 12 slices. Using an electric carving knife is the easiest way to make nice slices that hold together well.
- Serve with the roasted vegetables.
Disclosure: I was compensated by Columbia Crest to develop this recipe, photograph it, post it on my blog and promote it on social media. All opinions are my own.
This post originally appeared in November 2014 and was revised and republished in October 2018.
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