Thanksgiving begins and ends with Turkey. It’s funny, this time of year there’s always an equal number of articles telling you how to make ‘THE BEST turkey everrrr!’, and conversely that turkey is totally overrated and never that good.
Me? I love a turkey. I was a Christmas obsessed little tomboy, and can remember begging and pleading for Turkey to appear on the Christmas menu, which in our house otherwise featured ham, sometimes chicken, and always prawns. I would watch Christmas movies back to back, and read nothing but Christmas books and the one thing they all had in common was a huge, golden Turkey in the centre of the table. I also really wanted mashed potatoes, because of a scene in one of the Free Willy movies. Does Christmas ever happen in Free Willy? Probably not. I’ve always been a strange one.
Anyway, this recipe is for a roast turkey breast. Off the bone, with the skin on, a turkey breast is such a great way to cook turkey, since it’s so much more uniform in size and shape than the whole bird. It’s also cheaper, you can easily fit other things in the oven at the same time (bonus) and it takes a lot less time to cook. One breast will feed six people generously, and it carves super duper easily. Of course, as always with turkey, juiciness is something you have to think about. As far as I’m concerned, the best thing you can do to make your turkey juicy is to make sure it’s not overcooked – get a thermometer and check dat bird!
To flavour the turkey I’ve gone for the classic friends of poultry, lemon and rosemary. Both of them bring a bright, citrussy hit, but the lemon provides sharpness, and the rosemary some savoriness and depth. These flavours along with a staggering amount of salt and pepper are rubbed into the bird and left overnight. Then after just an hour in the oven, you’re done! Juicy, flavoursome turkey, and plenty of delicious pan drippings for gravy (recipe to follow!).
- One 1.6-1.8kg (3.5-4lbs) Turkey breast, skin on
- 3 tbsp chopped, fresh rosemary
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Pat the turkey breast dry, and place into a large roasting tray (that will fit inside your fridge).
- Stir together the rosemary, lemon zest, salt and pepper, and sprinkle generously all over the breast. Rub and massage in the seasoning, on all sides. Wrap the tray in clingfilm and leave ideally in the fridge overnight - but honestly, you can do this just before you put it in the oven and it will still taste good.
- When you want to roast, preheat the oven to 220C/425F. Let the turkey come up to room temperature for about half an hour (more or less depending on the ambient temperature where you live) then pour over the olive oil and pat it all over the turkey, making sure some sits on the bottom of the pan to stop it sticking.
- Place the turkey in the oven and roast for twenty minutes, before turning the temperature down to 180C/350F. Roast for another 20 minutes, and then cover the roasting pan with foil, before roasting for a final twenty minutes.
- Check the turkey with a meat thermometer - it should read 72C or 165F. Leave the turkey to rest for at least 15 minutes, but up to 30 or 40 minutes is great, well covered.
- Carve the turkey into thin slices and serve.