Sunday Dinner: Scaled Down Thanksgiving
On a typical Sunday evening, around, say, 5 pm, you will generally find me splayed on the couch, lamenting the inexorable march of time toward Monday morning and not the least bit interested in doing anything that might nudge the clock forward any faster. But if there is any Sunday feast capable of making me forget this routine, this roast turkey with garlic sage butter and stuffing is it. Low-maintenance. Sunday friendly. Delectable.
I actually had a hard time deciding whether this meal should be classified with the everyday meals or the weekend meals. Roast turkey and stuffing are generally feast-type foods, and they were unquestionably going-to-get-seconds-inducing enough to warrant the weekend status that they have eventually won. However, I have discovered that there is something shockingly accessible, even potentially “everyday” friendly, about roasting a turkey breast.
Just maybe not one rubbed in butter.
Don’t get me wrong, this turkey was definitely easy enough to make for an everyday meal. Same with the stuffing. And turkey breast is a nice, relatively lean meat that can stay tender on its own juices, so it would generally be a great choice for a non-feast, everyday kind of meal. It’s more the smearing butter all over it part that keeps this meal in the “weekend” category.
I used a 2.5 pound, bone-in, skin-on turkey breast portion for this. It was the perfect size to feed the two of us with plenty of leftovers for sandwiches and turkey soup, but not so much that we wasted any.
For the stuffing, I took my mom’s traditional Thanksgiving recipe (the smell coming from the oven had me salivating with nostalgia) and tweaked it by adding mushrooms, adapted it to be cooked outside the turkey cavity, and played with the quantities so that it was suitable for 2 people. I believe her recipe was initially based on a 1950’s Betty Crocker recipe. We usually use a combination of white and wheat sandwich bread for it, but you could really use anything you have on hand–I used simple white bread because that’s what we had.
Roast Turkey Breast with Garlic Sage Butter
Serves 2 with leftovers or 4 for dinner
1 bone-in, skin-on turkey breast portion
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 clove garlic, chopped or pressed
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine chopped sage, garlic, and softened butter. If butter is soft enough, you can just mix with a spoon or fork; otherwise use a food processor. Rub butter under skin of turkey.
Pop turkey in oven. I read that you should give it 40 minutes per pound, so I planned on an hour and forty minutes for mine, but it was finished well before that, after around an hour and fifteen minutes in the oven. Check it after the first hour (assuming its similar in size to this one), basting as needed, and keep an insta-read thermometer or a trusty meat thermometer on hand or in the bird, and take the turkey out when it reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for at least 15-30 minutes, or until you’re ready to eat it, before slicing. Use drippings to make gravy, if you like, and save some to drizzle over the stuffing to keep it moist. And don’t forget to save the carcass to make turkey stock.
Mom’s Thanksgiving Stuffing with Celery and Mushrooms
5-6 slices sandwich bread, torn by hand into small pieces to make about 5 cups
1/2 cup chopped onion
heaping 3/4 cup celery, chopped
about 6 crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 stick butter
heaping 1/2 teaspoon thyme
scant teaspoon sage
black pepper, to taste
chicken broth or drippings from turkey (or vegetable stock if you want vegetarian friendly stuffing!)
Maintain 350 degree oven from roasting the turkey. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped onion, celery, and mushrooms to skillet and cook a few minutes until onion is softened.
Add about a third of the bread pieces to the pan, stir, and cook a minute or two until softened and combined. Put the other bread chunks into a bowl. Remove skillet from heat and stir contents into bowl with uncooked bread pieces. Add thyme, sage, and pepper, and stir to combine.
Grease a small casserole and fill with stuffing. Drizzle chicken broth or turkey drippings over the stuffing to moisten. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Enjoy your mini Thanksgiving!