Week Night Yum Yum: Thyme and Orange Roasted Turkey Breast with Cranberry Orange Cous Cous with Toasted Hazelnuts

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I love turkey. I love turkey so much, I don't see why we have to eat turkey only in fall or for Thanksgiving. I think turkey should be eaten year-round, and especially as spring transitions from cold rainy days to warmer sunny ones, roasted turkey is perfect to fill that need for comfort on those rainy days. Roasting a big turkey can take a while, and admittedly it's not ideal for a week night meal. So, use turkey breast! Enough to feed a family, you can roast turkey breast faster without sacrificing the flavor of a traditional large bird.

For this recipe I wanted to hit the note of winter-meets-spring so I incorporated flavors from both seasons. Using beautiful large shallots and sweet and fragrant oranges hits the winter note perfectly, while adding both flavor and color to the entire dish. To usher in spring I went simply with my favorite spring herb -- thyme -- which plays beautifully with both the sweet piquant flavor of the shallot and aromatic orange. A simple seasoning of good kosher salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper together with garlic round out the savory note for the dish. A quick roast in the oven and this moist and tender turkey was perfect for a comforting meal on a busy week night. And the resulting juices made the most insanely good gravy!

I served the dish with Israel cous cous I mixed with more traditional winter flavors of rosemary, cranberry, orange and garlic. Then for texture, some roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts for a perfect crunch.

The entire dish came together quite quickly considering, and the flavor pay off was huge. You'll make this recipe again and again. And it's perfect for next Thanksgiving too. Enjoy!

Thyme and Orange Roasted Turkey Breast
1 bone-in turkey breast
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large shallots, peeled
extra virgin olive oil
1 navel orange, cut into quarters
about 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tsp corn starch mixed with 1 tsp cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season the turkey on all sides with salt and pepper then place in an oven proof casserole dish or roasting pan. Take the shallots and orange quarters and toss them in a little bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Garnish the turkey breast with the shallots and oranges around the pan, then drizzle the top of the breast with a little olive oil. Place in oven and roast for about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until turkey is nice and golden brown and cooked through. You'll want to start turning the shallots and oranges around about halfway through cooking so they don't burn, and use the juices that accumulate to help baste the top of the breast.

Remove the turkey and let rest on a carving platter. Remove the shallots and orange and arrange on platter (if serving). Strain the juices and transfer to a small saucepan. Add the garlic clove, chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Let cook while the turkey rests, about 10 minutes. Add the cornstarch slurry at the end to thicken to taste (the more you add the thicker it'll be). This is your gravy.

Cut the breast against the grain in thicker slices and arrange on the platter with the shallots and orange. Drizzle the gravy over the turkey slices if desired (or serve separately).

Cous Cous with Cranberry, Orange, Hazelnuts
3 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup Israeli cous cous
kosher salt and black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp orange zest
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1/8 cup toasted hazelnuts

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add a pinch of salt, then add the cous cous all at once. Cover with lid and cook for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain the cous cous and place in a mixing bowl. While the cous is still warm, add the orange zest, garlic, rosemary, scallion, and cranberries. Drizzle some olive oil to moisten ingredients (about a teaspoon is enough) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine. Add the hazelnuts and mix in. Serve.

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