This year Travis filled his Spring Turkey tag with a big ol’ Tom! When it comes to eating wild game, Turkey is one of my favorites so I wanted to make something seasonal and simple to really let the flavor of the breast meat shine. In this recipe, the turkey breast is pan-roasted and served with a vibrant lemon + herb sauce, crispy fingerling potatoes and a touch of garlic cashew cream.
Prepping the Turkey Breast
Turkeys are such big birds and should be broken down into different pieces for different cooking variations. I save the thigh meat for slow-cooked recipes and the breast meat for pan-roasting.
If you shot a large turkey, you will notice that the breast meat is extremely thick towards the top (about 2 or more inches thick) and then gets dramatically thinner towards the bottom of the ribcage. I cut the breast crosswise right where the breast meat begins to thin out (usually the lower 1/3 portion). You can save the lower portions from each breast for an entirely separate meal.
The reason for this is because a turkey breast will never cook evenly if kept whole (unless you’re slow-cooking it until it all falls apart). By the time the upper portion reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees, the lower portion is way past that resulting in dry, over-cooked meat. It is best to cook them separately.
For this recipe, I used the upper, thicker portion of the breast meat. In fact, I cut it in half again (crosswise) in order to make two large serving pieces. I very gently pounded the meat to ensure even thickness (don’t overdo this, your just trying to even it out, not flatten it out into a cutlet!) You will notice that I left the skin on. This will give you lots of fat, juices and flavor for your meat to cook in!
What is Pan-Roasting?
To put it simply, pan-roasting is taking a piece of meat and browning it in a hot sauté pan, flipping and immediately transferring that sauté pan into a preheated oven to finish cooking. This is, in my opinion, the best way to cook breast meat as it reserves the juices and keeps it from drying out. With practice, you will get this technique down to a science and learn to control the process so that the meat comes out at the perfect temperature every time. This is a simple but imperative cooking technique that I do quite often with pheasants, ducks and geese.
Roasted Lemon + Herb Sauce
Now that we are finally in spring, I chose to go with a light and refreshing sauce instead of a heavy, thick sauce. There is something about the brightness of fresh herbs and the acidity of lemons that pair so well with wild game!
For added depth of flavor, I roasted the lemons before juicing them. Once roasted, the lemons will caramelize a little and subdue the natural “pucker”. Be sure to strain the pulp from the lemons by using a fine mesh strainer. I used the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze the juice out into a bowl.
In an effort to embrace the flavors of spring, I used the combination of Parsley, Tarragon and Chives in the sauce.
Even though I have a love affair with herbs, they are more than just flavor enhancers or garnishment. They actually contain a huge amount of nutrients and assist in everyday bodily functions.
Did you know that Parsley is extremely high in antioxidants, a powerful diuretic, and it assists the body in eliminating toxins? ½ C. of Parsley contains over 500% of the daily value of Vitamin K, and over 50% of Vitamin C! Tarragon, dubbed “King of Herbs” by the French, is high in minerals and is commonly used as a digestive and sleeping aid. Chives are also high in Vitamins A, C and K and are known for their anti-bacterial and fungal properties, which also assist in gastrointestinal health.
Garlic Cashew Cream
You can find the recipe for the garlic cashew cream here. This is a dairy-free alternative to cream that adds a rich, silky umami flavor. All the sauces can be made in advance and stored in the fridge.
The fingerling potatoes are optional, but I can tell you they are super addicting! I always slice them in half lengthwise so that you get more crispy bits. After roasting, I sprinkle them with a little extra kosher salt and a handful of extra chives and herbs.
- 1 Turkey Breast
- 1 lb. Fingerling potatoes
- Kosher Salt
- Oil for Cooking
- Optional: Garlic Cashew Cream
- 2 Lemons
- 4 T. Tarragon, minced + Extra for Garnish
- 1 C. Parsley, minced + Extra for Garnish
- 4 T. Chives, minced
- ¼ C. + 2 T. of Quality Olive Oil
- Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees.
- Prep the Turkey Breast by cutting into two - four large serving portions.*See Tips Above.
- Generously salt the meat with Kosher salt at least an hour before cooking and up to 24. Pat the breast meat very dry and allow it to come to room temperature before cooking.
- Slice the lemons in half crosswise and roast on a small sheet pan for about 15 - 25 minutes until the bottoms begin to caramelize and the juice runs out. Strain the lemons in a small bowl using a fine mesh sieve to avoid getting any pulp. Measure out ¼ cup of the roasted lemon juice and add the tarragon, parsley and chives. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.
- Wash and slice the fingerling potatoes in half. Spread out across a sheet pan with a drizzle of oil, salt and pepper. Roast, undisturbed for about 20 minutes to allow the bottoms to form a crispy crust. Stir and then allow to cook for an additional 5 - 10 minutes or until tender on the inside. Remove and keep warm until ready to serve. You can garnish the potatoes with a little extra sea salt, chives and herbs.
- Pre-heat a large, oven proof saute pan (or cast iron) over medium high heat. Add a Tablespoon of oil and lay the turkey breast skin down (if you kept the skin on). Allow the turkey to brown for 3-5 minutes and flip after the crust has formed. Immediately transfer the entire saute pan into the oven to roast and finish cooking. If you do not have an oven proof pan, you can brown the turkey on the opposite side and transfer to a sheet pan and then roast it in the oven.
- Remove the turkey once the internal temp. reaches 155 to 160 degrees (My turkey reached 160 in 15 minutes, it was about 2" thick). Allow the turkey to rest until it reaches 165. Season with fresh cracked pepper.
- Serve the turkey with the roasted Lemon + Herb sauce, roasted fingerling potatoes and the Garlic Cashew Cream.