Donna's Daily Dish
Inspiring people to create every day recipes
A few weeks ago on America’s Test Kitchen, test cook Dan Souza, demonstrated how to make a Porchetta-Style Turkey Breast. I roast boneless turkey breasts at least every two weeks and I’ve tried different dried seasoning blends and liquid basting sauces. This recipe, while time consuming, challenged my culinary skills.
First order of business was to locate a boneless turkey breast that still had its skin. I was able to purchase one at Palmer’s Quality Meats in Neptune City, NJ. As I was preparing this for my husband and I, the butcher suggested I purchase half a breast, just over four pounds of meat; I also had him butterfly the breast. Palmer’s gets their poultry from Goffle Road Poultry Farms in Wyckoff, NJ, which is located in Bergen County.
To prep the breast, I had to carefully remove the skin from the meat as this is essential in roasting and preparation. Normally one would purchase a porchetta made with pork belly. My son-in-law prepared this one year for Christmas dinner. While extremely delicious, its richness makes this a special occasion meal. Therefore, one made with turkey has the same flavor profile that includes garlic, fresh rosemary, fennel fronds or freshly ground fennel seeds and other seasonings.
America’s Test Kitchen recipe gives directions for how to bone-out a bone-in turkey breast. While I can do this on bone-in chicken breasts, I preferred to have this done by a professional. One thing I didn’t do was to prepare the porchetta-style turkey breast eight hours ahead of roasting. This would allow time for the herbs to penetrate the meat and for the exterior skin to dry out. Not only do you want flavorful meat, but you also want to achieve crackling skin on the exterior. You can also let the prepared roast sit for up to two days in the refrigerator. I only had several hours for mine to sit before cooking.
For the recipe you’ll also need fennel seeds, black peppercorns, fresh rosemary, fresh sage, fresh thyme, fresh garlic cloves, kosher salt, extra-virgin olive oil and melted butter. All of the herbs, fennel seeds, peppercorns, salt and olive oil are combined to make a paste which is rubbed over the turkey. Using the skin to aid you, you fold/roll the turkey breast in the skin. Once you’ve done, you tie the meat with your precut butcher’s twine which will help the meat maintain its cylinder shape. Prior to roasting melted butter is brushed on the exterior.
The cooking method here is low and slow, 275° for 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 125°. In order to get a very crispy exterior, and finish cooking the meat, the oven temperature is increased to 500° for 15-25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145°. I didn’t brush the butter on, but drizzled it. When it came time to cook at the high temperature, I had smoke coming from my oven and my smoke alarm going off.
I was quite proud of myself and how my Porchetta-Style Turkey came out. The flavor was out of this world. The meat was tender and juicy. The exterior skin came out crispy. Overall, it was a fabulous meal. Would I do it again? Yes, but I’ll need to have a few more mouths to feed. At a little over four pounds, I’m able to get three meals out of this for my husband and I. I could make wonderful sandwiches with it. I’d toast the inside of a ciabatta roll, make an aioli spread, a slice of porchetta style turkey and maybe optional broccoli rabe on top. Now I’m hungry.
Porchetta-Style Turkey Breast
From America’s Test Kitchen
Season 23 “Porchetta-Style Turkey and Fennel”
SERVES: Serves 6 to 8
TIME: 3½ hours, plus 8 hours salting
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275°
“WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
Turkey porchetta, or turchetta, is a flavor-packed, visually impressive turkey breast preparation that takes its name, shape, and seasonings from the iconic Italian pork roast called porchetta. After deboning a crown roast (better than starting with a boneless turkey breast, since doing the butchery yourself guarantees that the skin and meat are intact), we found it best to toss the breast halves and tenderloins with the herb-spice paste (ground fennel and black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic, salt, and olive oil) in a bowl rather than spread the mixture on one side of the meat. When we wrapped the meat in the skin into a cylinder, the paste was evenly swirled throughout, lending each slice attractive marbling and loads of flavor. Refrigerating the assembled roast for 8 hours (or up to two days) before cooking allowed the salt in the paste to migrate into the meat, seasoning it and helping it retain its juices during cooking. Starting the roast in a low oven and pulling it out 15 degrees shy of the target temperature (160 degrees) meant that carryover cooking could gradually raise its internal temperature so that it didn't overshoot the mark. Salting the exterior of the roast so that it dried out as it rested in the fridge and brushing melted butter (the milk solids in which encouraged browning) over the surface just before cooking led to rich, flavorful color development. Briefly blasting the roast at 500 degrees deepened its color.”
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (7- to 8-pound) bone-in turkey breast
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
We prefer a natural turkey breast here; if you're using a self-basting breast (such as Butterball) or kosher breast, omit the 4 teaspoons of salt in the herb paste. This recipe was developed using Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt; if you're using Morton Kosher Salt, which is denser, use 1 tablespoon in the herb paste and 1½ teaspoons on the exterior of the roast.
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners. To receive my quarterly newsletter, click on link below and use “Subscribe” button.