Turkey Breast in White Wine Sauce
I realize that some readers are still preparing for Halloween, creating costumes and confections. While I am selecting recipes for confections for a neighborhood Trunk-or-Treat event, I like to begin to think about my Thanksgiving menu in October, and to begin tweaking or creating new recipes based on our planned gatherings. There are those years when Thanksgiving gatherings are smaller than usual, but you still desire a home-cooked meal with some of the traditional Thanksgiving Day flavors. “Food is memories,” as stated in Richard Morais’ book The Hundred Foot Journey, and Thanksgiving Day meals of past have left many of us with very particular, indelible family and flavor memories. Here is a method for enjoying some very traditional flavors, without fussing with a huge, whole turkey, if you would like to forego that production. Perhaps you would like to prepare turkey during other times of the year. Whether for Thanksgiving, another holiday, or for a Sunday supper any time of year, here is a recipe and technique that has served me well.
Turkey Breast in White Wine Sauce
Plan a quarter pound of poultry per person. Boneless, skinless turkey breast has no waste, and this braising method yields moist, tender turkey breast that can be carved beautifully every time.
2 and 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless turkey breast. I had a butcher cut one for me in one large half turkey breast portion, and then I cut it in half lengthwise. But, you can purchase those smaller 8 ounce portions at the supermarket, if you wish. The cooking time will be less, 45 minutes versus 1.5 hours for a large, intact half off the bone turkey breast.
- Salt and pepper
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup brandy or cognac
- 2 cups dry white wine or dry champagne
- 1 cup turkey stock
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 2 and1/2 teaspoons dried sage leaves (if you are not a sage fan, you can use tarragon or thyme with very good results)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Melt the butter in a 5 quart pot suitable for braising. I like enamel over cast iron for this purpose, and it must have a lid. Add the salted and peppered turkey at medium high heat and brown each side, about 6 minutes each side. You want to see some golden caramelization on the turkey.
- Remove the turkey to a platter. Turn off the heat, and add the cognac or brandy. Light the brandy flame with a safe fireplace lighter. Once the fire dies out, add the flour and herb, whisking til nearly smooth. Don’t worry about lumps at this point. Add the stock and wine or champagne and whisk until smooth over medium heat. It will smooth out nicely.
- Add back the turkey, place the lid on the pot, bring to just a boil and lower to simmer to braise for 45 minutes if you utilized the usual turkey breast portions found in the supermarket, or 1 and ½ hours if you have an entire half breast in two large portions.
- You can test for doneness by inserting an instant read thermometer into the thickest portion of the breast. If it registers 165, it is cooked properly.
- The beauty of this technique is, that the breast becomes moist, succulent, infused with wine, herb and stock flavor; and, even if you cook it a bit too long, the consequence is tat it will be falling apart tender and will not slice so attractively.
- After you remove the turkey, add ½ cup heavy cream to the pot, whisk, and adjust for salt and pepper.
- Allow the turkey to rest for 5-10 minutes, and then slice it and arrange on a platter. ladle some of the sauce over it. Garnish the platter. It is pretty garnished with fresh sage and orange slices.
This recipe was inspired by an old favorite of mine from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, with Sarah Leah Chase, Chicken Breasts in Champagne Sauce. This is a dish that I have served to dinner party guests often, because it is simple, delicious, and allows me some relaxation time with guests. You can use either a favorite white wine or champagne, your preference–I have prepared it with both with very good outcomes.
Dressing with Onions, Apples, Dried Fruits and Nuts
Every family has its favorite, beloved Thanksgiving Day dressing recipe. In our Italian-American family, the dressing always included some browned, crumbled Italian sausage. Through the years, I have made many variations on bread dressing, sometimes with browned sage-flavored sausage, sometimes very Italian with roughly chopped prosciutto. But, for this year, I think that I am in the mood for an apple-dried fruits-nuts dressing, but with a twist. I always use a good quality bread to make my cubed bread for dressing, but this year, I will use a very special rye bread made by a local Pastry Chef and Baker. This rye is incredibly flavorful, rich and moist, and has a “secret” ingredient, which is sauerkraut! Here is the recipe that I created today.
- 8 thick slices of good quality rye bread, cut into 1 inch cubes and toasted until dry in a 400 degree oven
- 2 teaspoons dried sage leaves
- 1 large sweet onion, coarsely diced
- 1 cup large dice celery with leaves, if you have them
- 3 Granny Smith apples, cored and diced small
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup golden raisins, or dried cranberries, or chopped dried apricots, your preference
- 2 and 1/2 cups stock
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 Tablespoons butter, plus butter to butter the casserole dish
- 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
- Butter a minimum 2 inch deep, medium size casserole and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a 12 inch, deep skillet and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the celery and the apple and sauté for just2 or 3 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, sage.