Outside of winter holidays, we rarely have turkey. For some reason, I never think about turkey – and for the two of us, even a small whole turkey is too much. A 2-3 pound turkey breast, however, is just right for a meal or two, plus a couple of sandwiches. I ordered this boneless, skinless turkey breast from Tendergrass Farms, with pastures located in southwest Virginia. I’m really impressed with their support of local, grass-fed, family farms and their mission: “By implementing rigorous grass fed standards we are able to offer naturally raised meats of distinction that are truly unparalleled in terms of animal husbandry and welfare, culinary refinement and flavor, as well as purity and wholesomeness.”
Of course turkey breast is extremely lean, so I had some concerns that it might dry out while roasting. I did two things to help prevent this from happening. First I brined the turkey for a couple of hours, to add moisture and enhance the flavor of the meat. Next, I decided to blanket the breast with woven bacon strips while it roasted. Whether it was the superior nature of pastured turkey, the brine, or the bacon…it turned out juicy and very tasty!
[The next day, we sliced up some leftover turkey and bacon for sandwiches, using this grain-free bread. Slice the bread and toast it for the best taste and texture.]
- 2-3 pound boneless, skinless turkey breast
- 8-9 slices bacon
- freshly ground black pepper or pepper blend
- fresh sage (optional)
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup organic cane sugar, coconut palm sugar, or honey
- 5 cups of water
Mix the brine ingredients in a resealable plastic bag. Shake vigorously until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved. Place the turkey in the bag, squeeze out the air, and seal. Allow to brine, refrigerated, for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Take out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking to return to room temperature.
Place 4 strips of bacon on a flat surface (such as a cutting board), parallel to each other. Starting at one end, place one strip of bacon perpendicular to the others, and weave it through the 4 strips (i.e. over, under, over, under). With the next strip of bacon, weave it in using the opposite pattern from the first (i.e. under, over, under, over). (You probably already knew how to weave, didn’t you?) Continue until you have a bacon blanket large enough to cover the top surface of the turkey breast. Try to keep the bacon pieces close together.
Season the brined turkey breast with pepper. Place the turkey breast on the bacon, flip it over so the bacon is on top, and tuck the loose strands of bacon underneath. Stick a few leaves of fresh sage underneath the bacon in spots, if desired.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the turkey on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast until the internal temperature at the center of the breast reaches 165F. (Roast time for this turkey was approximately 2 hours, but may vary with different ovens and/or weight of turkey,) Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Good stuff and not just for Thanksgiving anymore…how can you go wrong wrapping something in bacon? Yum! Yummy music as well. First up is Candi Staton with His Hands. Staton, know as the “Queen of Southern Soul” for her days at Fame Studios, returns with this great collection of songs including “You Don’t Have Far to Go” and “His Hands” from Will Oldham. This is old-school smouldering soul that gives the great voice of Staton room to move.
Taj Mahal has been a pivotal figure in roots music since his days with Ry Cooder in Rising Sons in the late ’60s. He broadens his reach on Kulanjan with Toumani Diabate. Mahal’s metal National guitar finds a common ground with Diabate’s kora, and the result, produced by Joe Boyd is mesmerizing. From Muddy Water’s “Catfish Blues” to songs of Africa, this is a spellbinding meeting of musical cultures.