I’ll share a little secret with you…

TurkeyBreast

It’s easy to make turkey at home and it is a thousand times better than anything you can buy at the supermarket, the deli or a restaurant. Making a half turkey breast at home is a little time consuming but it is simple. When you are done, you will have the most sublime meat ready to use for sandwiches, pastas, salads… whatever your imagination desires.

Unless it is the day after Thanksgiving, most people only consume processed turkey. Even the meat served at many restaurants identified on the menu as fresh roasted turkey is probably a little processed. It doesn’t taste the same as a fresh unprocessed bird, so I am assuming they cook a boneless turkey breast. A boneless turkey breast would also be easier for their kitchens to deal with. Here are the ingredients on a popular brand of boneless turkey breast. Not too bad, but do you really need all of the salt, sugar and additives? I don’t think you do.

The following recipe can be doubled to make a full breast but since we are a small household, I usually buy a half breast which weighs on average between two and three pounds. You will purchase a bone in, skin on breast. Like chicken breasts, having the bone in and the skin on contributes fat and flavor, giving you moist flavorful meat after the slow roasting. This recipe makes enough meat so that you will have your fill of sandwiches but you can also make a turkey tetrazzini (this one is delicious), and even a salad or two. In my opinion this is a good value for such an easy task!

Now that you know my secret, I don’t want to see you buying processed turkey meat anymore! Do you hear me? Get into that kitchen and make something delicious and healthy for yourself!

Following is the recipe for my turkey breast with soy sauce au jus. I use the au jus to make a Scotch or Jack Daniels spiked pan gravy. As a bonus, the recipe for the gravy will follow (see how much I love you? Two secrets for the price of one!). A wonderful comfort food dinner I like to make is toasted whole wheat bread, topped with roasted turkey and then smothered with the alcohol spiked gravy. Serve with steamed veggies on the side to help sop up any extra gravy. Soooooo delicious!

Turkey breast with soy sauce au jus

½ all natural or organic bone in, skin on turkey breast (approx. 2 – 3 pounds)

Juice of one small lemon or ½ large lemon

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Freshly ground black pepper

2 ½ cups water

5 – 6 tbsp soy sauce or tamari sauce or Bragg liquid aminos

3 -5 whole cloves garlic, peeled

½ onion, quartered

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Meanwhile, place the turkey in an 8” x 8” pan. I use a square Pyrex dish, but any pan than fits the turkey breast fairly snugly will do. Squeeze the lemon over the top of the breast. Sprinkle with onion powder, garlic powder and a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper. Do not salt the turkey, we’ll be using a generous amount of soy sauce in the pan juices which we’ll use to baste the turkey. This will be plenty of salt! Arrange the garlic and onions around the turkey breast. Pour the water into the pan. Add the soy sauce into the water.

Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast in the oven and roast the breast for 45 minutes per pound. Let the meat cook for about a half an hour and then baste the meat with the pan juices every 15 to 20 minutes until the meat is cooked. A meat thermometer should read 170 degrees when poked into the thickest part of the meat. Check the meat near the end of the cooking time in case your oven runs hot.

After removing the roast from the oven, let the meat cool for at least five to ten minutes before cutting into it. This will ensure that the meat will slice evenly instead of crumbling.

The sliced meat can be dipped in the au jus as you slice it for very moist flavorful meat. The au jus can also be served on the side for dipping or use it all up to make the following gravy.

I started making this gravy using a fine single malt scotch. The scotch gives the gravy a nice smoky flavor. One day when I ran out of scotch, I used Jack Daniels whiskey instead. The whiskey gives the gravy more of a sweet flavor than the scotch but both are delicious in their own way.

Scotch spiked turkey gravy

All of the au jus from the above turkey recipe

1 – 3 tbsp unbleached white flour

2 – 3 splashes (too taste) single malt scotch or Jack Daniels whiskey

Transfer the au jus to a small sauce pan. If it is cold, warm the au jus up to a simmer, if it is fresh out of the oven, keep it heated on low. Whisk one tablespoon of flour into the au jus at a time until it just begins to thicken (depending on how much au jus you have you may not need all three tablespoons of flour). Continue to cook over low heat until thickened. Add a splash of scotch or whiskey at a time, tasting the gravy as you go until it reaches the consistency and flavor you like. Remove the gravy from the heat and use on the roasted turkey or for other goodies such as baked potatoes or biscuits.

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The pitter patter of tiny buns

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I am suffering from tiny bun syndrome. I know it sounds like a personal problem. Maybe it is…but wait a second…no it’s not! (But, I kind of wish it was a personal problem so that I could stop dieting). It’s just that I keep stumbling on recipes that promise me big buns. The kind that will make embarrassingly big sloppy sandwiches and I keep pulling these lovely little petite things out of the oven. It’s embarrassing. Especially because my boyfriend has a big appetite and keeps giving me a look of disappointment when he sees how small his sandwich will really be. (It never occurs to him that he will eat two sandwiches anyway and that those two sandwiches will equal the one big sandwich of his hopes and dreams). These rolls turned out to be 3” x 3” inches. Monsters I suppose, compared to the microscopic 2” x 3” ciabatta rolls I made last time.

Unlike those ciabatta rolls, these rolls made up for their diminutive size with a huge amount of flavor. I made these rolls with sourdough instead of active dry yeast and the sponge was allowed to sit for 15 hours. The fermentation was evident in the final bread. The flavor was stupendous! The recipe called for green olives. Trader Joes has a Greek olive medley composed of 4 or 5 different olives of different colors and textures. I used as many green olives as I could and supplemented them with a few black olives to get the ¾ cup needed for the recipe. I have had kalamata bread that was too salty before. These olives are much more mellow and less salty and they contributed a nice tang to the bread. The final product was sour and tangy with a soft interior and a nice crispness to the crust. I was very pleased with these rolls and look forward to making sandwiches with them.

Next time… well… I may double the recipe and then make 9 instead of 12 rolls. What do you think? Will I get the right size rolls or should I double the dough and go for even less rolls?

By the way, here is a vanity shot of the interior of the rolls (oh yeah! Light and fluffy!)

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These little rolls are going out to all of you YeastSpotters. But if you haven’t seen YeastSpotting before, you are in for a treat! Click here to see what other kinds of yummies were baked up this week!

Rustic Olive Rolls

Adapted from the King Arthur flour site

Sponge:

½ cup water

3 tbsp sourdough starter

1 cup unbleached bread flour

Dough:

All of the sponge

2 tbsp olive oil

½ cup (+ 1 tbsp if needed) water

1 tsp salt

2 cups unbleached white flour

¾ cup chopped, pitted olives (Greek olives worked well – use any mild, firm less salty olives)

To make the sponge: In a large bowl, mix water, starter and flour until well combined. It will look like a little ball of dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave out on the counter 14-15 hours. (Start early in the evening if you want to bake first thing in the morning). In the morning, you should see that your little ball dough has tripled in size!

To make the dough: Add olive oil, water, salt, and flour to the sponge. Mix until well combined. My dough was very dry and wouldn’t come together. I added another tbsp of water and it seemed to hold together. You may need to as well. Just add water by the tablespoon until you get a dough forming. Turn the dough out onto a kneading surface. Knead 10-12 minutes or until the dough is soft and you can stretch it without breaking (window pane test).

Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Put olives in a clean dish towel and wring out any excess liquid from them. Turn the dough out onto the kneading surface. Flatten the dough and add the olives. Knead the olives into the dough until they are well incorporated into the dough.

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Pat the dough into a 9” x 9” rectangle. Be careful to make the corners as sharp as possible and the edges as straight as possible so that the rolls will have a pretty shape.

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Cut the dough into six 3” x 3” rectangles. Rub flour into the surface of a clean cotton dish cloth (not terry cloth or you will be sorry) . Place the dish cloth on a hard surface like a cookie sheet. Space three pieces of dough on the dishcloth and pushing the cloth up against the edges of each dough piece to form a support. Set the other three dough pieces on the cloth and repeat so that they look like this:

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Cover the dough with another clean dish towel and let it rise 1 to 2 hours until it is very puffy.

Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Carefully transfer the rolls to a peel that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal. Transfer the rolls to the stone and bake until browned, 20 – 25 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a cooling rack. Cool completely before enjoying.