Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There I said it. I love Thanksgiving. I have the best childhood memories of this particular holiday. We usually spent it at my Grandma’s house, and we always feasted! Though she was born and lived much of her young life out west,(her birthday certificate lists her birth place as Indian Territory) she moved to the south in the early late 30’s with her family and ended up marrying a Alabamian. So, she quickly became versed in all things southern. Each year our Thanksgiving table included things like green beans made with the ham bone, black eyed peas made with the ham bone, southern style corn bread, honey baked ham, candied yams, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, sweet tea and turkey, of course. As I look back, my childhood Thanksgivings are one of my biggest cooking influences. I think I’ve gained much of my skill and experience in the kitchen by cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
I come from a particularly small family, I’m an only child and only have 2 cousins. Both were boys, and lived a few hours away. So, I only got to see them on Holidays. We always had so much fun. I grew up in Florida, so sometimes we would swim all day and when it was cooler out, we’d play football in the yard, or watch hours of football on tv. We are also a divided family, half are Florida State Seminoles, and half are Florida Gators. Each year, the rivalry football game is played on Thanksgiving weekend, so to preserve our family civility, we always went out separate ways by Friday. Football runs deep in Florida. In fact, one of our family friends broke up with his long term girlfriend because she made the mistake of talking smack after her team beat his….yeah…its that important. Anyway, back to the food…oh wait one more thing – GO NOLES!
As I got older, I was required to help out in the kitchen. My mom’s specialty was deviled eggs. We made them for any and every family get together. It was expected. My job was always peeling the eggs. As I grew up I slowly took on more responsibility. These days, I cook pretty much the entire meal. However, that’s because I want to not because I’m required to. I usually start planning my Thanksgiving menu in early October. I love Thanksgiving day. I get to spend the whole day in the kitchen, cooking for my family, then enjoy watching them eat all my delicious food. The best part is that one of them usually insists on cleaning up. Because we have a small family, I don’t always get a whole turkey. The past few years, I’ve gotten a bone-in turkey breast. It cooks like a turkey, but is smaller and less expensive.
This year its just 5 of us; my parents, my daughter, my husband and me. So, I’ll probably cook a smaller than usual meal. I plan on doing a bone-in chicken breast, since it will serve everyone well enough, with just the right amount of leftovers. The breast cooks quicker, but otherwise its pretty similar to a whole turkey. I decided to try my hand at brining a bone-in breast this year, and was rewarded. It was super moist, tender and very tasty. Usually I made a pan gravy with the pan juices, but for this I actually decided to just serve it with the juices on their own. It was really delicious. I was surprised at how the coconut oil really browned the skin beautifully. I was so happy with how this turkey came out. I’ll add that my dog was too because she dragged it off the counter and went to town. Yea, I was pretty angry. She’s lucky I love her.
Local Ingredient: Turkey Breast from a local turkey farm, sage and rosemary from my herb garden.
1 cup sea salt
1 cup coconut palm sugar
16 cups water divided, plus more
5-6 sage leaves, roughly chopped or torn
2 oranges, cut into wedges
1 whole bone-in turkey breast (About 6-7 lbs)
1 tbls coconut oil
5 sage leaves minced
2 sprigs of rosemary, stems discarded and minced
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 tbls olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
5-6 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 oranges, cut into wedges
About 1 tbls olive oil
- Using a large stockpot large enough to hold the turkey breast and brine, add 4 cups water, salt, and sugar. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve.
- Add herbs and oranges, and an additional 4 cups of water.
- Add the turkey. then add enough water to completely submerge the turkey in the water.
- Cover with tight fitting lid or cling wrap.
- Place in the refrigerator or cooler with ice overnight or at least 8 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Remove the turkey breast from the brine and rinse it clean.
- Pat it dry with paper towels.
- Make a paste with the coconut oil, sage rosemary, sea salt and black pepper.
- Gently lift the skin from the turney breast and rub half the mixture under the skin. Be sure to replace the skin stretching it to cover as much of the breast as possible.
- Rub the remaining paste over the outside.
- Measure about 1 tbls of olive oil and brush it on the outside of the turkey with a basting brush.
- Put 5-6 orange wedges and 1/4 of the onion inside the breast cavity.
- Place the turkey breasts on a roasting rack in a roasting pan.
- Arrange the remaining onion and orange around the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Pour the chicken broth in the bottom with onions and oranges.
- Place the turkey breast in the preheated oven for about 2 hours. Baste once or twice while the turkey breast is roasting. Remove once the internal temperature reached 165 degrees F.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and cover it with foil for about 15 minutes while it rests.
- Carve the turkey breasts and serve with the juices from the pan.
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