I’m not trying to brag, but I make a mean roast turkey. For some reason, I can’t always get chicken just right but my turkey, oh, it’s magically, melt-in-your-mouth flavorlicious. Not to sound cheesey, but the special ingredient here may just be the love.
And boy do I love good turkey. I go to Bulls games just to get what I consider to be the best and most over-priced turkey sandwich ever – the one sold at the north end of the United Center. The turkey is sliced to order and is served warm on whole-grain bread with cranberry-mayonnaise and roasted root vegetable chips. I always get the hiccups from eating it too fast. Mmmm, I miss that sandwich…
Anyways, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to make a turkey this year (either for the family Thanksgiving or for any of my various culinary jobs) and, to be completely honest, I was also bit disappointed in the one I ate for Thanksgiving. After the holiday I thought about buying a discounted whole turkey but what would I do with it? Certainly I couldn’t eat a whole bird myself and I didn’t have the freezer space to store it for future company. Even the whole turkey breasts were too much. So I passed, thinking this year I’d have to do without.
Then, on a random stop at Trader Joe’s this afternoon to buy dark chocolate covered raisins (usually the only thing I buy there), I came across an affordable half turkey breast on the bone. I did what any other rational person would do: bought it. I also happened to stumble across a bag of multi-colored small potatoes and added them to the basket, thus making this the most I’ve ever bought at that store in one purchase.
At home I found a bit of fresh sage, a bag of cranberries (I’d bought them right after Thanksgiving knowing they stay fresh for a long time) and some baby spinach. I minced the sage (about 2 teaspoons) and mixed it with 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter and a pinch of salt and garlic powder, which I then rubbed all over the seasoned turkey including under the skin. I roasted it in the oven until the internal temperature reached 160F (the temperature increased while resting due to carry-over), about an hour and 10 minutes, basting with the butter blend every 20 minutes. I added the potatoes and five cloves unpeeled garlic to the pan after 20 minutes. Once the turkey was done cooking, I transferred it to a cutting board to rest and placed the potatoes on a plate. Then I made the jus by discarding the extra fat in the pan, placing the pan over medium-high heat and deglazing with chicken stock which I reduced by half.
I made the cranberry sauce on the stovetop while the turkey was roasting by mixing about half the bag of cranberries (about 6 oz) with enough water to cover and a few tablespoons sugar. I gently simmered it until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickened to a jelly-like consistency. The spinach was simply steamed with a pinch of salt.
Finally, I served myself dinner and then called my mom to brag about the delicious meal she was missing (okay, I had to brag somewhere). And I ate the dark chocolate raisins for dessert.