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With all of the one- and two-person households in this country (comprising more than two-thirds of Americans), most people must either round up a bunch of friends and family for Thanksgiving dinner or eat turkey for two weeks.
There is an alternative, which I’m sharing for singles and couples: turkey breast. At its simplest, roast turkey breast is made by plopping a whole or half bone-in breast in a shallow pan and roasting at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes per pound, until an instant-read thermometer registers 170 degrees.
But why go basic for the most important feast of the year? Since you’re reading this newsletter you probably love to cook, so I suggest you go with my favorite way to serve turkey breast. I made the recipe (adapted from a Cooks Illustrated poultry book) seven years ago for my husband’s fiftieth birthday. A skinless turkey breast is boned, butterflied and brined, then rolled with a stuffing of ancho chilies, raisins, garlic and parsley. The roast is grilled, slice and napped with a chipotle cream sauce. It is kick-butt.
Serve the Southwestern turkey breast with jalapeno cornbread stuffing and mashed potatoes for a memorable Thanksgiving dinner for two or three. Or make a whole, double turkey breast for a Thanksgiving dinner for six.
CHILI AND RAISIN-STUFFED TURKEY BREASTS
• 1/4 cup kosher salt
• 2 quarts water
• 1 whole (two lobes) skinless turkey breast, boneless or bone-in, split
• 1 cup raisins
• 3 dried ancho chilies
• 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
• Salt, pepper
• 1 tbsp. melted butter
The day before serving, combine salt and water in a pitcher and stir. Set aside.
Remove skin from turkey breasts. If they are bone-in breasts, bone them: Starting at the thinner, rounded edge (not the thick edge where the breasts were joined, slip a thin, sharp knife between the meat and the bones. Continue cutting horizontally close to the bones, lifting meat and folding it back like a book. When you reach the thick side, cut the meat away from the breast bone and discard bones.
Turn the breasts cut-side up on the counter. Where the thick and thin portions of each piece of the meat meet, make a horizontal slice to within one-half-inch of the thick edge. For each breast, fold back the meat along the cut to create a large, flat piece of chicken of roughly even thickness. This is called butterflying the meat.
Place both breasts in a large, zipper-lock plastic bag. Stir the salt water and pour into the bag. Seal and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.
Place raisins and chilies in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak until plumped and softened, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and discard water.
Remove stem and seeds from chilies and tear into large pieces. Combine raisins, chilies, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Prepare a large charcoal fire (about 25 briquettes) on one side of a covered grill (cover removed).
While coals heat, remove turkey from brine. Rinse and pat dry. Place meat cut-sides-up on a counter. Spread chili mixture to within 1/2 inch of the edges of the meat. Roll up jelly-roll style, tucking in ends so no filling leaks out. Tie each roll in three places with kitchen string. Sew up any gaps with cotton thread.
Brush turkey rolls all over with melted butter. When the coals have ashed over, scatter a handful of soaked hickory chips over the coals. Place meat on the opposite side of the grill from the hot coals. Close lid, positioning vents wide open. Roast for about 20 minutes. Turn and reposition turkey rolls. Replace lid and continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the turkey registers 165 to 170 degrees. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the heat of the grill. Check with a thermometer after 45 minutes.
Remove from heat, cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting each roll in half-inch-thick slices. Serves 6. Recipe may be cut in half to serve 3.
CHIPOTLE CREAM SAUCE
• 1/2 cup cream
• 1 tsp. mashed, canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
Whisk cream with chilies in a small saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. Dribble a tablespoon of sauce over each portion.
David Lebovitz was making a pie when all hell broke loose in his neighborhood in Paris last weekend. On Monday I checked his blog, Living the Sweet Live In Paris, to make sure all was well. He, his partner and his friends are fine but his local outdoor market and restaurants were the scene of bombings, he wrote. Everyone is shaken up.
Lebovitz returned to the kitchen later to finish making a pecan pie with Bourbon and ginger, a new recipe he found in “First Prize Pies” by Allison Kave. The pie is very special, he wrote, and served a function beyond nourishment: “I was happy to have this pie sitting on the counter after all that happened this weekend. It made us feel a little better.”
From Iris Stacey:
Thank you always for your awesome recipes! I’ve tried many of them, and they have become some of our favorites.
My Nana used to make wonderful apple turnovers or hand pies. I think she just used her homemade pie crust, but I don’t remember how she prepared the apples – use them like making an apple pie or cook them first? After they were baked, she would sprinkle them with confectioners’ sugar. I would love to make them myself, but my attempts have failed. Would you have a recipe that might help me out? I asked both my mom and aunt, but they didn’t remember. Thanks.
Dear Iris: My mother made apple turnovers and they were awesome, too. She used raw apples, cinnamon, sugar and flour, as she would for a pie. They were way too flaky to be called “hand pies,” though, so I suspect your grandmother’s turnovers were different.
Southern hand pies often were made with dried apples and the pies were fried, such as in this recipe from Southern Living magazine http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/fried-apple-pies-1:
You recall that your grandmother baked the pies, though. Try this recipe with a pre-cooked apple filling from Cooking Light: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/apple-hand-pies-0.
A reader asked where to get Russian tea biscuits: The same place to go for the best Jewish rye bread in the world — Davis Bakery, Cleveland.
Dear Jodie: Excellent suggestion. The beloved bakery has locations in Woodmere and Warrensville Heights. Here’s more information: http://davisbakery.net/locations.php.
From Tammy Jo:
I recently began hunting (my husband is an avid hunter). Last weekend I shot my first deer!
My sister would like to make an authentic English mincemeat pie with venison. Our deer processor will give us spicy sausage, hamburger, sliced tenderloins and inner loins. My sister isn’t sure which to use for her mincemeat pie recipe. Any ideas? Thanks!
Dear Tammy Jo: Making authentic mincemeat is a project. I assume your sister doesn’t want to go Merrie-Olde- England authentic, because the mincemeat of Old England contained as much meat and suet as fruit, and was made with very little sugar. Our tastes have changed. I found a more modern version – with venison, no less – on a trusted King Arthur Flour site at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/mincemeat-pie-or-tarts-recipe. The cut of venison isn’t specified, but after studying the recipe I would guess a roast. Because your roasts are being turned into ground beef and sausage, your sister will have to use the inner loins.
For your next deer, you might consider getting a few roasts. I use them for all kinds dishes, from shredded-meat burritos to jerky (after slicing, of course).
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