Friday, November 29, 2013

Turchetta: Turkey Breast Prepared in the Style of Porchetta

Hands-down, the best turkey breast I've ever had.
This recipe takes work, but once you've prepared the roast you stick it in the refrigerator for a couple of days and the final roasting is a breeze.

My cooking co-captain and I start talking about and thinking about what we want to cook for Thanksgiving at least as early as September. This year we decided to change-up a few things: 1. Instead of cooking a whole turkey we were going to do a turkey breast on the rotisserie and make a small-ish Porchetta. A couple of years ago we found Judy Rodger's genius recipe for "Mock Porchetta" and make it at least three or four times a year. 2. We decided to 'go simple' as far as sides go: gravy (yes, on Thanksgiving that can be considered a side), mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries and a salad. 3. We would prepare the meat on Tuesday and everything except for cooking the meat and making the salad on Wednesday.

Then I sent her an instant message. I found this on the Serious Eats site and thought that it was cool and that we should consider this for the next Thanksgiving. Truly, my intent was not to go rogue and try and change 'The Plan'.

A little later, I received  an email:

Subject: Oh kaaayyy.

You just had to throw a monkey wrench in our works. I want to make that Turchetta but we can't make a porchetta too.

It just looks too good to pass up. We should do it. Sometime in February we can rotisserie a turkey breast but let's make the damn Turchetta....oh you just had to go looking for recipes.

...and so, we did. Here's to monkey wrenches!

Here is a link to the Serious Eats article, The Food Lab: How to Make a Turkey Porchetta by J. Kenji L√≥pez-Alt. There is also a slide show link and a link for the recipe. I'm not going to post the recipe here because we did not adapt it beyond a few changes, and have additional notes on what we will and will not do the next time (see NOTES, below), and there will definitely be a next time - it was delicious.
Browning the Turchetta
  1. Changes to the spice and herb mix: we added the zest of 1 lemon, making the mixture identical to the one we use for Porchetta.
  2. Other
    • We made gravy, instead of a jus and used a different method to make the stock.
  3. What we will change the next time:
    • Stick with the turkey breast size called for in the recipe. We had a larger (2 times larger than the size called for) breast because we were worried about having enough leftovers for sandwiches (5 diners), and we had extra meat that was too much to roll up and fit. We ended up using much less of the breast meat and there are no problems with the leftovers for sandwiches. We probably ended up with a little more meat used in the roll than was called for in the recipe. If I had to feed a larger crowd, I'd make two (as the recipe suggests). Once you're done preparing it (or them) they can (and should) sit in the refrigerator for two days and two would still take up less room than a whole turkey.
    • After you've separated the meat from the skin. Chill them both down for 30 min in the refrigerator. It will be easier to trim the fat pockets from the skin and to handle the meat. 
    • Tying up the roast: After putting on the roasting bands (very useful - and re-usable - in many applications), we realized that we should have tied it up, as shown in the recipe, with butcher's twine. We did, before roasting, add butcher's twine along the length of the roast but next time it will be all butcher's twine.