I’ll share a little secret with you…


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.



  1. drfugawe said,

    October 2, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Just got a whole turkey breast from Safeway – I’ll use your recipe to make it! Love the idea of bourbon spiked gravy – I use a lot of JD to finish dishes – our favorite is a skillet seared steak finished with 2 Tbs brown sugar and 2 Tbs Jack Daniels as a pan sauce – superb!

    Thanks Mimi.

  2. Mimi said,

    October 2, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    The steak sounds really good!

  3. rb said,

    October 16, 2009 at 3:25 am

    i did it
    the turkey was fan-friggin-tastic man!
    i opted for the single malt method, smoky is nice.
    went really well with brussels sprouts and TJ’s ‘harvest grains’ blend.
    thank you-
    and A. thanks you too, he had seconds and would’ve aimed for thirds except the apple pie was calling.

    • Mimi said,

      October 16, 2009 at 4:51 pm

      I’m so glad it turned out well (especially the gravy). You do know that I originally used the scotch you gave us for the gravy, right?

      Yum, I bet the apple pie was good!!

  4. ronnie said,

    October 21, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    “Now that you know my secret, I don’t want to see you buying processed turkey meat anymore! Do you hear me? ”

    Yes ma’am. *slinks away*

  5. drfugawe said,

    October 23, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    OK Mimi, I’m reporting in – I roasted up my turkey breast yesterday, and it turned out very well – a super dinner! I loaded up the roasting pan with veggies to take advantage of the opportunity. Carrots, onion quarters, fingerling potatoes, turnip, and apple quarters (just because I’ve got hundreds right now) – the veggies sat on top of my pan rack, and over the liquid – worked great.

    But one thing that didn’t work great -and if you’ve experienced this, please advise- was that after I put the spices all over the skin of the breast, it all tended to wash off when I basted – ??? What did I do wrong? It all sunk into the pan liquid and made the gravy a bit intense! Have you had that experience?

    Another baddie of my own making was that I dumbly bought one of those boneless breasts with the netting around it – NEVER AGAIN. If you try to slice it with the netting on, it’s a bitch – and if you try to remove the netting before slicing, all the crust flies off. Not good! I much prefer the bone-in half breasts, and will always get them from now on.

    I loved the gravy -even with the extra spices. I used Jack Daniels. Thanks for sharing your secret recipe – we loved it, and will keep it handy for the future.

    • Mimi said,

      October 23, 2009 at 4:16 pm

      I’m so glad the turkey turned out well even with the spice problem. The addition of the apples and veggies must have made it a really great meal!

      I’ve been thinking about this all morning. I’m blaming the horrendous netting. I wonder if the spices didn’t adhere to the skin because the netting got in the way. I make a curried pork roast and the pork loin comes with the netting. Being the neurotic I am, I don’t trust cooking with springy synthetic looking fibers so I usually cut it off and retie the roast with kitchen twine. I’m thinking the netting doesn’t absorb much moisture and therefore the spices stay dry enough to wash off?

      In case it isn’t the netting but the fact that you had a longer cooking time with the whole breast (I’ve done whole breast before and don’t remember the problem happening) here are my thoughts: Make sure the roast is pretty wet from the lemon juice before you add the spices so that they stick. The roast can probably cook for over a half hour before the first baste without burning, maybe extend the time to first baste by 15 more minutes? Don’t baste quite as often or quite as well?

      Good luck on your next try. Let me know what happens with a bone in turkey breast.

  6. December 3, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    […] Thanksgiving dinner of my own devising. Tuesday was Thanksgiving again for me. I made my favorite turkey breast recipe (there would only be two of us so we didn’t need the whole bird), stuffing with pecans […]

  7. December 13, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    […] you to make my sauce for these bars. In fact, there are still excuses for Turkey dinners. Make my Turkey au jus or bake some turkey cutlets and have the sauce as a side. Make it for festive holiday style fruit on […]

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