Would you think I was kidding if I told you this is one of my husband's favorite dinners. We don't just have it around Thanksgiving, I make it all year round. It is that delicious and requires very little effort.
I serve it with my Make Ahead Turkey Gravy and we absolutely love it. I think we all know roasting a whole turkey in the oven to perfection can be a daunting task. While the white meat on top overcooks, the dense dark meat under the bird comes to a safe-to-eat temperature. It can be a futile effort.
During the rest of the year or if you are having a smaller crowd for Thanksgiving, turkey breast is the way to go. I make this exact same recipe with either a whole (6-8 pound) turkey breast or a half-breast (3-4 pounds). The only thing that changes are the cooking times; about an hour longer for the larger breast.
Speaking of cooking times, the best way to roast turkey to perfection is with a meat thermometer. Do not rely on those pop-up timers. They are set to "pop up" at 180-185 degrees, about 15 degrees too high, which overcooks the white meat. Investing in a meat thermometer will change your cooking. I use the kind that keeps temperature while cooking and has a wireless device to alert me no matter where I am in the house.
This turkey comes out of the oven so juicy and flavorful, it's almost fool-proof. If you are a turkey rookie, this is a great recipe to learn with.
And what to do with those turkey leftovers? I have lots of turkey leftover recipes here.
The first step to a tender and juicy turkey breast is through brining. This is a simple way to enhance flavor and moisture in roasted meat. This does not have to take long...two hours tops. Most of the flavor is absorbed in the first two hours anyway.
Dissolve salt and brown sugar in hot water in a 2-gallon resealable plastic bag. Stir in apple juice and ice. Make sure the brine is chilled thoroughly before adding the meat to prevent bacteria.
Trim away the ribs and wing bone as well as any excess skin around the breast. Submerge the breast into the cold brine and let sit 2 hours.
Roast turkey breast side up on a rack sprayed with cooking spray over a shallow roasting pan. (Cover the roasting pan in foil to make clean up very easy.) Using a rack elevates the meat, allowing hot air to circulate easily around the breast. Using a shallow pan roasts the meat where as a high-sided pan inhibits air flow and ends up steaming the meat. Not good.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and roast turkey in the upper third of the oven to get the best color.
If making a 6-8 pound breast, after one hour, baste breast with maple-butter mixture. Baste every 15 minutes until the temperature of the breast reaches 165 degrees. If you are making a 3-4 pound half-breast, start basting a half-hour after cooking and continue basting every 15 minutes until the temperature of the breast reaches 165 degrees. Make sure to insert your meat probe into the thickest part of the breast. I like to insert it at the thinnest end, going towards the thickest.
The basting itself provides flavor but because the breast is in the oven for a short period of time we need to hasten the browning process. The sugar in the maple syrup will promote browning and impart a nice, sweet taste.
After the breast has reached 165 degrees, remove from the oven and tent with foil for 15 minutes before serving.
Roasted Maple Glazed Turkey Breast
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