Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Creamed Gravy Recipe

We’re heading into turkey season—not just Thanksgiving, but the whole holiday season is an opportunity to host gatherings of various sizes with different groups of friends and family. Because a variety of fresh turkey parts are available from Thanksgiving through the New Year, creating a festive feast doesn’t need to involve an entire bird.

A bone-in turkey breast is a great way to enjoy the flavors of Thanksgiving without having to roast a whole bird. The key to making this special is to do a little advance work and make a roasted turkey broth one to two days ahead to season the turkey, notes Molly Stevens, author of All About Roasting, who contributed this recipe to Real Food.

Ah, nothing beats the aroma of roasting turkey—and with this recipe you get to enjoy it twice.

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Creamed Gravy

Makes 6 to 8 Servings

2 lbs. turkey wings, necks and/or bones, chopped into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf

Turkey Breast
1 6- to 7-lb. whole bone-in skin-on turkey breast
1 tbsp. plus 12 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
2 tsp. fresh marjoram, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
212 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
212 tbsp. unsalted butter
312 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. dry white wine or water
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
Squeeze fresh lemon juice (optional)

1 to 2 days before roasting turkey, make broth and season turkey.

For the broth: Heat oven to 450°F. Arrange turkey parts on a heavy-duty baking sheet or shallow baking dish. Roast 35 minutes, turning the pan 180 degrees once after 20 minutes, until nicely browned.

Transfer bones to a large saucepan. Immediately pour 112 cups water onto sheet and stir and scrape with a wooden spoon to dissolve drippings. If stubborn, place pan over medium heat to bring liquid to a simmer, scraping as water heats. Pour liquid into saucepan.

Add onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf and 41/2 or 5 more cups of cold water, or enough to just cover. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, partially cover, and reduce heat to barely simmer. Simmer 2 hours, until broth has a nice turkey flavor. If at any point liquid drops more than 12 inch below surface of bones, add just enough cool water to barely cover, about 1/2 cup at a time.

Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside to cool. When cooled, cover and refrigerate until ready to make gravy.

For the turkey: In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon thyme, sage, marjoram, garlic, salt, pepper, celery seed, nutmeg and oil to make a coarse paste. With your fingers, gently loosen skin from meat on top of breast to smear half of paste under skin, taking care not to remove skin entirely. Smooth skin back in place and smear remaining paste over skin and on bone side of turkey breast. Arrange in a baking dish, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.

Place rack in middle of oven and preheat to 450°F. Set turkey, skin side up, in a small roasting pan or heavy-duty skillet (turkey will brown more evenly if pan sides are no more than 2 inches high). Let sit at room temperature while oven heats. Scrape thin layer fat from broth surface and pour 1 cup into pan.

Place in oven and immediately reduce temperature to 300°F. Roast 75 to 105 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 165°F.

Meanwhile, pour remaining broth into a saucepan and simmer 15 to 20 minutes to concentrate flavor and reduce to 212 cups. Set aside.

Remove turkey from oven, transfer to a carving board, and tent with foil to rest at least 15 minutes.

Place pan over a burner set to medium-high heat. Add wine and bring to a boil, using a wooden spoon to dislodge and dissolve any cooked-on bits. Simmer until liquid just barely covers bottom of pan and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until bubbly. Add flour, whisking constantly, to create a smooth paste. Whisk in liquid and any drippings from pan. Slowly add broth, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a gentle simmer, whisking occasionally, and simmer 6 to 10 minutes to thicken and remove any floury taste. Whisk in cream, remaining 12 teaspoon thyme and parsley. Return to a simmer for 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If gravy needs a little zing, add squeeze of lemon.

Carve turkey and serve with gravy spooned over top.

Nutrition Info (per serving): CALORIES 632 (274 From Fat); FAT 31g (Sat. 10g); CHOL 220mg; SODIUM 898mg; CARB 6g; FIBER 0g; PROTEIN 79g


Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.