By “small turkey recipe” I mean: a turkey breast recipe that is an alternative for people who do not want to make a whole, big turkey for Thanksgiving. But, the later was a bit of a long title.
So, now that we are on the same page…
Turkey is my least favorite part about Thanksgiving. I know…but search your hearts, is it really your favorite?
And then this:
But first, as Jeremy and I have hosted a few Thanksgivings in our 5 years of marriage we’ve stumbled across some things. First, lots of people are most excited about the side dishes. Also, a good hand-full of our friends are vegetarians. Lastly, as fun as it is to have leftover turkey until the New Year…wait. Nope. Not fun.
So, I went on a quest to find a smaller Thanksgiving turkey recipe. Of course, I started with the queen – Ina Garten. And I did not have to look any further. (Which, by the way, her new cookbook Cooking for Jeffery is out and it is everything!).
Very Sophisticated Reasons to Cook a Smaller Thanksgiving Turkey:
- Less oven time goes to turkey! This turkey recipe does not take more than 3 hours. More oven time for the sides!
- Most people show-up for the sides.
- Less stress about potentially serving a dry turkey.
- Your next 87 meals do not have to include turkey (unless you’re into that, I guess)
- More room for pie! <— strongest case!
Ina has a recipe for a bone-in herb roasted turkey breast and it is perfect. It is stuffed with fresh herbs, including sage, the infamous Thanksgiving herb.
The Best Small Turkey Recipe
We start with 1 whole bone-in turkey breast (at least 5-7 lbs). I got one from the meat counter in Whole Foods. Just call and ask your local grocer if they carry these!
The star of the show is this really gorgeous herb paste that we slather all over the turkey.
I like to get half the paste under the skin. This is very easy! Just start at the edge of a piece of skin and very gently work your knuckle into it and loosen the skin from the meat.
Then grab a handful of the herb mixture and stuff it inside. Do this throughout the turkey.
Then add the rest of the mixture on the outside.
Place your turkey in a roasting pan with a rack and to the bottom of the pan add 3/4 cup wine. Please, please use a meat thermometer to test when your turkey is done 🙂 I use this one all the time when cooking and if you have Amazon Prime – you can get it before Thanksgiving! Everyone’s oven is different so this is an important tool. My turkey went into the oven for 90 minutes and then I took it out, added foil and baked for another 30 minutes until I hit 165 degrees. (See recipe below for how to use meat thermometer.)
This beauty makes your house smell amazing and comes out all crispy and flavorful:
And, the pan drippings are really, really delicious. According to Ina you can take those drippings and pour them over the turkey. But, I know some serious gravy lovers so I took it one step further and made the simplest gravy with the pan juices. Seriously, it took me 10 minutes (recipe below).
So, this is our new turkey go-to. More sides, like 8 more servings of these savory sweet mashed potatoes:
And more room for pie. We are winning all over the place.