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Recipes for the Holiday Table

Recipe: On Thanksgiving, forget a whole bird and roast a juicy turkey breast on stuffing

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast on Stuffing. Food styling Sheryl Julian.Sally Pasley Vargas

Serves 6

To take some of the fuss out of the usual turkeypalooza, cook the breast by itself, here roasted on a bed of old-fashioned stuffing. This gives you juicy meat that is perfectly done. The breast is minimally demanding, but to keep the flesh protected and give it flavor, slide fresh herbs mixed with lemon under the turkey skin the night (or day) before roasting. Then sprinkle the skin with salt and refrigerate the breast overnight uncovered. This will give you crispy skin. While you're at it, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet to dry overnight like my mom always did, or just dry them in the oven for a few minutes before the breast goes in. The breast gets an hour-plus head start before you surround it with the stuffing, which soaks up the delicious turkey juices and becomes soft on the bottom, golden and crusty on top. It's in and out of the oven in a little over two hours, which gives you time to whip up a few sides.

TURKEY

2tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2teaspoons salt, and more to taste
½teaspon black pepper
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2tablespoons lemon juice
1whole bone-in turkey breast (7 to 8 pounds)
4 large whole carrots
2tablespoons olive oil
1cup chicken stock

1. In a small bowl, mix the sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, and lemon rind and juice.

2. Slip your fingers under the skin on both sides of the breast to loosen it from the flesh and form a pocket. Spread the herb mixture under the skin. Sprinkle the breast with salt and rub it into the skin. Set the breast in a baking dish and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight.

3. One hour before roasting the turkey, remove it from the fridge to rest at room temperature.

4. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Have on hand a roasting pan that will hold the bird with several inches of space all around it.

5. In the center of the roasting pan, place the carrots close together in a row. This will be the turkey's roasting rack and leave plenty of room for the stuffing. Set the breast, skin side up, on the carrots. Drizzle olive oil on the skin and rub it in with your fingers. Pour the stock into the bottom of the pan. Roast the breast for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and spoon the stuffing around the breast (stuffing recipe below). The stuffing should be about 2 inches high in the pan. If your pan is large, arrange the stuffing so it is not too thin in spots; it's OK to push it to the sides of the pan if necessary. Add a little more stock to the bottom of the pan if the liquid has evaporated.

7. Continue to roast the breast for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees. Total roasting time is 2 hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes. (Calculate 18 to 20 minutes per pound, but check the temperature several times, starting halfway through roasting.) At this point, the stuffing should have a golden crust. If not, remove the pan from the oven, set the turkey on a cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Return the stuffing to the oven for 10 minutes, or until it browns. Let the turkey rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes before carving.

8. To carve the turkey, use a large, sharp chef's knife to cut along one side of the breast bone, keeping the knife close to the bone as you pull the breast meat away in one piece. Repeat with the other side of the breast. Cut across the breast halves to make slices. Transfer to a serving platter and surround with stuffing.

STUFFING

2loaves (1 pound each) sturdy white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
½cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2large onions, finely chopped
3stalks celery, finely chopped
1tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1teaspoon dried thyme
2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
teaspoons salt, and more to taste
½teaspoon ground nutmeg
½teaspoon black pepper
cups chicken stock, or more if needed
1cup dried cranberries

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet.

2. On the baking sheet, spread the bread and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, or until dry. Let cool briefly and transfer to bowl large enough to hold all the stuffing ingredients.

3. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Stir in the sage, fresh and dried thyme, parsley, salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Cook, stirring, 1 minute more.

4. Scrape the onion mixture into the bowl of bread cubes. Toss well. Sprinkle the stock over the mixture and toss again until the bread is damp but not soggy. Stir in the cranberries. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Spoon the stuffing around the turkey breast as directed above.

Sally Pasley Vargas

Serves 6

To take some of the fuss out of the usual turkeypalooza, cook the breast by itself, here roasted on a bed of old-fashioned stuffing. This gives you juicy meat that is perfectly done. The breast is minimally demanding, but to keep the flesh protected and give it flavor, slide fresh herbs mixed with lemon under the turkey skin the night (or day) before roasting. Then sprinkle the skin with salt and refrigerate the breast overnight uncovered. This will give you crispy skin. While you're at it, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet to dry overnight like my mom always did, or just dry them in the oven for a few minutes before the breast goes in. The breast gets an hour-plus head start before you surround it with the stuffing, which soaks up the delicious turkey juices and becomes soft on the bottom, golden and crusty on top. It's in and out of the oven in a little over two hours, which gives you time to whip up a few sides.

TURKEY

2tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2teaspoons salt, and more to taste
½teaspon black pepper
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2tablespoons lemon juice
1whole bone-in turkey breast (7 to 8 pounds)
4 large whole carrots
2tablespoons olive oil
1cup chicken stock

1. In a small bowl, mix the sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, and lemon rind and juice.

2. Slip your fingers under the skin on both sides of the breast to loosen it from the flesh and form a pocket. Spread the herb mixture under the skin. Sprinkle the breast with salt and rub it into the skin. Set the breast in a baking dish and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight.

3. One hour before roasting the turkey, remove it from the fridge to rest at room temperature.

4. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Have on hand a roasting pan that will hold the bird with several inches of space all around it.

5. In the center of the roasting pan, place the carrots close together in a row. This will be the turkey's roasting rack and leave plenty of room for the stuffing. Set the breast, skin side up, on the carrots. Drizzle olive oil on the skin and rub it in with your fingers. Pour the stock into the bottom of the pan. Roast the breast for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and spoon the stuffing around the breast (stuffing recipe below). The stuffing should be about 2 inches high in the pan. If your pan is large, arrange the stuffing so it is not too thin in spots; it's OK to push it to the sides of the pan if necessary. Add a little more stock to the bottom of the pan if the liquid has evaporated.

7. Continue to roast the breast for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees. Total roasting time is 2 hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes. (Calculate 18 to 20 minutes per pound, but check the temperature several times, starting halfway through roasting.) At this point, the stuffing should have a golden crust. If not, remove the pan from the oven, set the turkey on a cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Return the stuffing to the oven for 10 minutes, or until it browns. Let the turkey rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes before carving.

8. To carve the turkey, use a large, sharp chef's knife to cut along one side of the breast bone, keeping the knife close to the bone as you pull the breast meat away in one piece. Repeat with the other side of the breast. Cut across the breast halves to make slices. Transfer to a serving platter and surround with stuffing.

STUFFING

2loaves (1 pound each) sturdy white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
½cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2large onions, finely chopped
3stalks celery, finely chopped
1tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1teaspoon dried thyme
2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
teaspoons salt, and more to taste
½teaspoon ground nutmeg
½teaspoon black pepper
cups chicken stock, or more if needed
1cup dried cranberries

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet.

2. On the baking sheet, spread the bread and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, or until dry. Let cool briefly and transfer to bowl large enough to hold all the stuffing ingredients.

3. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Stir in the sage, fresh and dried thyme, parsley, salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Cook, stirring, 1 minute more.

4. Scrape the onion mixture into the bowl of bread cubes. Toss well. Sprinkle the stock over the mixture and toss again until the bread is damp but not soggy. Stir in the cranberries. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Spoon the stuffing around the turkey breast as directed above.Sally Pasley Vargas