I have had Thanksgiving dinners where I didn't want a large bird. One time, I was leaving on a trip the next day, and I didn't want leftovers. Another time, because of work schedules, there were only a four of us at the table. Here is a wonderful turkey dish for when you don't need to go the whole hog.
Herbed Turkey Breasts with Cranberry-Merlot Sauce
Makes 8 servings
Make Ahead: The turkey roast can be rolled and tied up to 1 day ahead.
This simple method of preparing turkey breast infuses the meat with lots of flavor. While turkey breast roasts are easy enough to find at the market, cutting the roasts from a whole turkey breast will give you the trimmings to prepare turkey stock, which always makes the best sauce. The turkey breasts need to be butterflied, a simple enough procedure, but ask the butcher to do it, if you prefer (if you ask nicely, I bet the butcher would bone out the whole breast, too). Two turkey breasts will provide for a reasonable amount of seconds, and perhaps leftovers.
Two 1 1/2-pound boneless and skinless turkey breast roasts
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, plus sprigs for garnish
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, plus sprigs for garnish
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (2 tablespoons chilled)
1/2 cup turkey stock, made from breast trimmings or canned low-sodium chicken broth, as needed
1/2 cup Merlot or other dry red wine
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Place one turkey breast, skin-side down, on a work surface. Using a sharp knife, cut a deep incision into the thickest part of the meat on one side of the roast, being careful not to cut completely through. Open this flap like a book to one side to butterfly the roast. Make a cut on the other side, being careful not to cut completely through, and fold out in the other direction. Pound the breast gently to flatten evenly. Mix the parsley, rosemary, and sage. Sprinkle half of the herbs over the cut surface of one roast. Starting at a short end, roll the breast into a thick cylinder. Tie crosswise in a few places with kitchen string. Repeat with the second turkey breast. Season the outside of both roasts with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a Dutch oven or flameproof casserole slightly larger than the two turkey breasts over medium-high heat. Add the breasts and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Cover tightly and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the breast reads 165°F, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the turkey breasts to a carving board and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
4. Pour the cooking juices out of the pot into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Let stand for a few minutes, then skim off the fat that rises to the surface. Add enough broth to the cooking juices to make 1 cup. Return the liquid to the pot and add the wine and cranberries. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the cornstarch and cook for 15 seconds, just to give the sauce a slightly heavier consistency. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer to a sauceboat.
6. Remove the strings from the roasts. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the rosemary and sage sprigs. Serve hot, with the sauce passed on the side.
If you can’t find boneless, skinless turkey breast roasts (sometimes called turkey London broil), you can bone a whole turkey breast. While I can't deny the convenience of boneless turkey, I often bone the whole breast because it is more economical. Plus I get the bones and skin to make turkey stock.
Start with a whole turkey breast weighing about 5 1/2 pounds. Using a sharp, thin knife, remove the turkey skin. With the tip of the knife scraping against the bones, working from the breast bone down to the rib bones, cut off the lobe of breast meat from one side of the breast. Repeat with the other side of the breast to make two boneless, skinless turkey roasts about 1 1/2 pounds each. To use the bones for Quick Turkey Stock, use a heavy cleaver or knife to chop the bones into manageable pieces.