Roasted turkey breast is a great alternative to roasting a whole turkey. A 4–5 pound turkey breast will feed 6–8 people, it's easy to slice, and it's perfect for making sandwiches the next day.
Also, you can roast a turkey breast in about an hour, as compared with up to five hours for a whole turkey. And since there's no dark meat to worry about, the breast comes out moist and juicy.
This also means it's OK to baste, which adds nice flavor to the skin. (Do get a skin-on breast rather than skinless, because the skin gets nice and crispy while the meat remains moist and juicy.)
You can use the pan drippings and stock from basting to make turkey gravy.
Our target temperature for white meat turkey is 160°F, but we take it out at 155°. It'll hit 160° while it rests. For best results, use a meat thermometer like this one, which has a probe that you insert into the meat before roasting, and leave it there. Set it for 155° and it will beep when it's time to take it out.
If you want to cook a bone-in turkey breast, that would be a half-breast, i.e., a single breast. For boneless, you could do a half or a full (double) breast. Either way, just ask your butcher to roll and tie the boneless breast so that it cooks evenly. (You do have a good butcher, don't you?)
Finally, a whole turkey breast is a wonderful candidate for brining. Here's a simple brine recipe.
- 1 (4–5 lb) turkey breast, skin on (see note #1 below)
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup chicken stock or turkey stock for basting
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Place the turkey breast on a rack in a roasting pan.
- Brush turkey with the melted butter, then season generously with Kosher salt and black pepper.
- Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, basting twice with stock — once after about 15 minutes and again about 15 minutes later.
- When thermometer reads 155°F, remove the turkey from the oven. Cover loosely with foil and let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving and serving.