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Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy


  • 1 small onion (golf-ball size), peeled and coarsely chopped

  • 1 lemon, scrubbed clean

  • 12 fresh sage leaves

  • A large handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup, from 12 stems)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for oiling pan

  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed

  • 6 fresh bay leaves

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on (about 2-2 1/2 pounds each)

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup apple brandy or regular brandy, such as Calvados brand

  • 2-3 cups apple cider


Pre-heat the oven to 450°F. Oil a roasting pan and set it aside.

Put the onion into the bowl of a mini food processor. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the lemon in thin strips, being careful not to cut into the bitter white pith. Add the lemon zest to the food processor and reserve the whole lemon for another use. Chop the onion and lemon zest in the food processor until fine. Add the sage, parsley, EVOO and one teaspoon salt and pulse until it forms a coarse paste.

Put two of the bay leaves and the butter into a small pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the turkey breasts on a work surface. Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from one end, being careful not to pull it completely off, creating a pocket. Season the turkey breasts generously with salt and pepper. Stuff half of the herb paste under the skin of each breast and spread it evenly under the skin.

Transfer the breasts to the roasting pan and slide two bay leaves underneath each breast. (The heat of the pan will release the bay leaf oils and flavor the breast). Using a pastry brush, baste the breasts with half of the bay leaf butter.

Wash your hands after handling the raw poultry.

Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 400°F. After 20 minutes, baste the turkey breasts with the remaining bay leaf butter and roast for an additional 20-25 minutes until cooked through and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170°F.

Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer to a platter, cover and let rest for 10 minutes before carving while you make the gravy.

Put the roasting pan over a burner on medium heat. Sprinkle flour over the pan juices and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the apple brandy and scrape the pan to lift the bits that are stuck to the bottom. Cook for a minute to burn off the alcohol, then, while stirring, pour in the apple cider. Bring to a simmer and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the turkey breast on the diagonal and serve with warm gravy.