Thanksgiving warm up

The best part about our turkey-centric national festival of giving thanks?  During November, boneless turkey breasts are abundant and often on sale.  I’m not talking about the frozen, “12% solution added”, processed boneless turkey roasts.  I mean a fresh breast, deboned by the butcher and tied with string or wrapped in netting.  To me, this cut is an ideal way to cook and eat turkey—no long cooking, no wrestling with an unwieldy carcass inside a hot oven, no three days of brining, and nobody has to eat the legs.  Since it’s a solid lump of white meat, it can be perfectly cooked to succulence.  Sure, you can roast it in the oven, basted with butter and rubbed with sage like every other food magazine reader, but why cook indoors when you can cook it outdoors, over lump charcoal?

Grilling a boneless breast is simple:  slather a three-pound, skin-on, boneless breast with your favorite poultry rub and cook, indirectly, for 30 minutes per pound between 350 and 400 degrees.   (This precise temperature control is how cooking works on a Big Green Egg; if you’re cooking with gas, you’re on your own.)  Go ahead, toss some wood chips in the fire for flavor, but go easy:  turkey soaks up smoke like a sponge (try fruitwoods like apple or cherry).  Take it off the grill when the interior temperature hits 150; tent it with foil and rest in a turned-off oven for 20 minutes.  The interior temp will climb to 160, and the breast will be succulent, delicious, and ideal for turkey-sandwich leftovers.

While the turkey cooks, it’s easy-peasy to roast a pan of sweet potatoes, onions, and mushrooms.  Cut ’em into chunks and toss with olive oil, minced garlic, and lots of black pepper.  Spread into an enameled cast iron pan, sprinkle with salt, and cook alongside the turkey until sweet potatoes are tender (aout 45 minutes).

Notice how I re-purposed a le Creuset tart tatin pan; it gave the potatoes a crisp crust.  Can you imagine that some people worry about staining LC cookware?  I haven’t seen anything (turmeric, soot, burned sugar) that  won’t scrub off….makes you wonder why people will spend the dough for enameled cast iron if they’re afraid it use it.

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