Cooking a turkey always sounds like such a production. Brine it overnight, cook it for hours, etc. What if I want turkey tonight? Like, in a couple of hours? And what if I just want to feed a couple of people, not a small army?
Forget a whole – or even half a – bird. Pick up some cutlets! I found these at Trader Joe’s. A bit larger than chicken breasts, they were just what I needed to get my turkey fix before the big day.
The great thing about this recipe is it has all the flavor of a Thanksgiving bird, without all the work. Prep and cooking took less than an hour and was easy to do on a weeknight.
Adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe that called for two, large skin-on turkey breasts, I made a few changes.
Instead of rubbing the herb paste between the skin and breast, like Rachael did, I simply cut a small pocket in each cutlet and stuffed it inside.
When it came time to make the gravy, I scraped all the juices and bits into a pot, since my baking dish wasn’t ideal for the stovetop. The longer you let the gravy simmer, and then sit, the thicker it will be.
While I thought all the flavors were great, the hubby – aka Mr. Picky – didn’t care for the herb paste. He thought it tasted like pine needles. He also didn’t want the gravy, deeming it “too sweet” after stealing a taste while it was simmering. At least he enjoyed a nice, moist turkey breast!
I recommend this recipe for anyone feeding just a couple of people on Thanksgiving. Or those, like me, who just really would like to enjoy turkey more than one day out of the year.
Recipe: Herbed turkey cutlets with apple gravy
Adapted from Rachael Ray
- 1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 12 fresh sage leaves
- Large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup, from 12 stems)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
- 6 bay leaves
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2-4 turkey breast cutlets (1.5 to 2 pounds)
- Black pepper
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup apple or regular brandy
- 2 cups apple cider
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a roasting pan or baking dish and set it aside.
- Put the onion into the bowl of a food processor. Using a microplane, shred the zest from the lemon, being careful not to cut into the bitter white pith. Add the lemon zest to the food processor. Chop the onion and lemon zest until fine. Add the sage, parsley, olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until it forms a coarse paste.
- Put two of the bay leaves and the butter into a small pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Carefully cut long pockets into the thick side of each turkey cutlet. Stuff a small spoonful of the herb paste into each pocket. Season the turkey breasts generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the breasts to the roasting pan, and slide 2 bay leaves underneath each one. (The heat of the pan will release the bay leaf oils and flavor the breast.) Using a pastry brush, baste the breasts with half of the bay butter.
- Place the turkey in the oven. After 15 minutes, baste the turkey breasts with the remaining butter, and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving while you make the gravy.
- Put the roasting pan over the burner on medium heat (or scrape bits and juices into pot). Sprinkle the flour over the pan juices, and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the brandy and cook for a minute to burn off the alcohol, then, while stirring, pour in the apple cider. Bring to a simmer, and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cut the turkey into slice and serve with warm gravy poured over the top.
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