Turkey is the star of Thanksgiving, but roasting and carving a big turkey isn’t your only option.
Try something different — roast one or two turkey breasts. They are readily available, easier to prepare, and very versatile. They are perfect for a small group and especially so for those who want only white meat, and like extra white meat “left-overs” for a late-night sandwich.
Regarding cooking time, they take half as much time as a whole bird, and they are easy to carve — just slice and serve.
You can season turkey breasts with different marinades, rubs, and glazes, from spicy to sweet. I prefer the simple seasoning of salt and pepper after rubbing on some olive oil. My sons prefer a glaze of barbecue sauce.
Serving turkey breasts is simple, especially if you do not have huge platters. Arrange them over roasted vegetables (my choice would be sweet potatoes, parsnips, and fresh Brussels sprouts around the edge), or place one breast at each end of the table with different seasonings.
I would still make a simple gravy and those can’t-do-without mashed potatoes.
BBQ Spice-Rubbed Turkey Breast
Serves 8 to 10.
Two, 3- to 31/2-pound fresh or frozen bone-in turkey breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
11/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Thaw turkey if frozen. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a large shallow roasting pan and rack with cooking spray.
Combine brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt, cumin, chili powder, and pepper in a small bowl. Place breast halves, bone side down, on roasting rack in prepared pan. Set aside.
Mix together the olive oil and butter, spread over turkey breast. Rub spice mixture evenly over breast meat and under the skin if skin is loose enough.
Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of the breast without touching bone. Roast uncovered on lower rack of oven for 20 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast 1 to 11/2 hours longer or until thermometer registers 170 degrees. Occasionally spoon pan juices over turkey.
Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.
Try this tip
Can lumpy gravy be rescued?
As soon as you notice lumps, stop cooking and pour the gravy through a mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Return the gravy to the heat and resume cooking. If the gravy isn’t thick enough, place 2 tablespoons of flour in a screw top jar, add 2 tablespoons cold water, cover and shake.
Add about 1 tablespoon at a time to gravy, cooking and whisking until gravy is how you like it.
Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Setting the stage for a happy Thanksgiving
If your Thanksgiving will be fancy, wash crystal and serving dishes now; have cloth napkins ready.
Decide where you need flowers and what you want for a centerpiece. Table can be set day before.
Declutter the kitchen; put toasters and such away to clear counter space.
Make room in refrigerator. If necessary stash condiments and such in a cold garage.
Write your plan and include details. After deciding on the menu, include what goes in the oven and when.
Delegate. Having each guest or family member prepare a dish or do something, such as pick up fresh cider or fresh rolls from the bakery, will be a big help. Make sure to keep a list of who does what.
Set up a chopping session after you figure out what needs to be chopped for what recipes; onions and celery for the stuffing, nuts for a dessert, etc. Ziploc bags are perfect for storage (mark amounts).
Spread Thanksgiving into other rooms. Clear off a table in the hall and arrange desserts there. Clear off a table in the living room for drinks and an ice bucket. A coffee station can mingle with decorations on a small table in a family room. This will encourage people to help themselves.
Assign a family member to check for re-filling of items.