Go Nuts This Thanksgiving

Each Thanksgiving I offer my readers the same timesaving advice: Roast a turkey breast rather than a full bird. Roasting a smaller breast yields the same amount of meat as a larger bird, and is far easier to handle.

To serve eight guests, plan for an 8-pound breast, which will provide as much meat as a 10-12 pound turkey. Two breasts will produce more than enough meat for a larger crowd; if you set them sideways, each breast facing in the opposite direction, they may even fit into one large roasting pan. If cooking for two to four people – as many of us do these days – a 6-pound breast will provide generous leftovers.

Although brining the bird is very much in vogue (a process that involves soaking the meat in a salt solution prior to cooking), it is a practice I do not favor. The extra work is a bother and the end result tastes overly salty to me. My secret to producing succulent meat? Spring for a fresh breast rather than a frozen one, preferably buying a premium brand. I also skip the basting, instead inserting orange slices, fresh herbs mixed with some oil, or thin apple slices under the skin to keep it moist.

Italian friends of mine go a step farther in flavoring and protecting the breast meat of their turkey by spreading a paste of roasted walnuts and herbs liberally between the meat and skin. The result tastes like stuffing and resembles it somewhat in texture. To roast nuts at home, place them on an ungreased baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 8 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Making the perfect gravy to accompany this feast starts by packing the breast cavity with an apple and shallots, then deglazing the roasting pan with apple cider and the reserved pan juices. Spooned over the sliced turkey and served with walnut “stuffing,” the combination offers an unexpected and unforgettable meal.

Walnut-Stuffed Turkey Breast with Cider Gravy - Makes 10 servings.

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and quartered
3/4 lb. large shallots, quartered
3 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup apple cider
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. flour
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup roasted walnuts
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. ground sage
2 tsp. canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6-7 lb. whole turkey breast

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In food processor, pulse roasted nuts with thyme and sage until coarsely ground. Add 1 teaspoon oil, 1 tablespoon water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and generous pinch of pepper. Whirl to a grainy paste.

Using hands, separate skin from turkey breast, taking care not to tear. Lift skin and push half of walnut paste under skin on each side of breast. Pull skin back into place and spread nut mixture in an even layer by smoothing the skin, using gentle pressure. Coat skin with remaining 1 teaspoon of oil.

Place breast upside-down on rack in roasting pan. Place apple and as many shallots as fit into cavity. Push three short bamboo skewers across opening to hold the filling in cavity, and turn breast right side up. Add broth and remaining shallots to pan.

Roast breast for 30 minutes. If breast is browned, tent loosely with foil. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue roasting until instant-read thermometer inserted almost to the bone registers 160 degrees, about 60 minutes. To re-crisp skin, remove foil for last 20 minutes. Transfer turkey to platter. Strain pan juices into measuring cup, discarding solids. Skim off as much fat as possible.

Set roasting pan on stove over medium-high heat. Pour in cider and vinegar, and boil, scraping up brown bits sticking to pan with wooden spoon. When liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, off heat, whisk in flour. Return pan to heat, and stir until boiling gravy thickens, about 5 minutes. Pour into a sauceboat.

Remove turkey skin. Lift off walnut mixture, and set aside. Slice breast, arranging meat on a warmed platter. Set walnut “stuffing” beside it. Add apples and shallots from cavity, if desired. Serve, passing gravy separately.

Per serving: 300 calories, 9 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 11 g carbohydrate, 44 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 200 mg sodium.

The Author:

“Something Different” is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association which operates as the umbrella organization for the network .The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org); World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org); and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (www.fmrc.fr).

Article Source: Aicr.org

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