Thanksgiving Turkey – Porchetta style

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The forecast for a chilly, November weekend got me excited to try out AICR’s new recipe for porchetta-style roasted turkey breast. I’ve never cooked a whole turkey, so starting with just the breast seemed more manageable than an entire bird. Since the turkey takes several hours to roast, I knew it would be the perfect way to warm my apartment and fill it with scents from two of my favorite herbs—rosemary and sage. These herbs are also packed full of cancer-protective flavonoids and phenolic acids.

Turkey1

Porchetta is a traditional Italian roast pork dish that is stuffed with garlic, salt, rosemary, sage, fennel, and other herbs (such as coriander or red pepper flakes). The pork cut is generally high in fat (e.g. pork belly) with a crispy skin and very salty seasoning. I love that this recipe keeps all the flavorful spices found in traditional porchetta, but instead can be enjoyed with a lean turkey breast and less sodium. The skin still crisps up nicely and the broth keeps the turkey juicy.

This recipe required some planning ahead. Fennel seed and coriander seed were two herbs I didn’t have in my pantry, and if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t know the frozen turkey breast would need 24 hours to thaw in the fridge. It was good I did my shopping a day early!

Herbs

Toasting the fennel and coriander helped bring out the flavors and gave off an enticing herbal and slightly nutty scent.

sm_Heather Victoria Photography_Porchetta Style Turkey-04Once the herbs, garlic, and olive oil were blended together I gently rubbed the mixture under the skin of the turkey breast. This part was a little tricky – you have to slowly pull the skin away from the breast to prevent it from tearing, and I wanted to spread the herb mixture evenly to help infuse the porchetta flavor throughout.

I decided to make a little extra of the spice-blend to season my side dishes. The herbs smelled so delectable and I knew they’d also add great flavor to roasted red potatoes and asparagus. This also made it easy to quickly whip up some healthy sides to go with the turkey.

Potato When it came time to roast the turkey I realized I had a dilemma—no roasting pan! I found the ceramic insert from my Crockpot and its wire steam rack worked well as an alternative.

Next came my favorite part: I turned on the record player and let the turkey roast, while the light scent of rosemary wafted through my apartment. Every 20 minutes I basted the turkey and watched the skin begin to turn golden and crispy. When I had only about 30 minutes left on the turkey, I rolled up the potatoes in aluminum foil and set them on the oven rack next to the turkey. I knew the turkey was done once my meat thermometer read 165°.

Turkey2My kitchen is rather tiny, so I love recipes that give me time to leisurely clean up, set the table and relax. The 20 minutes the turkey needed to rest also gave me time to roast my asparagus and turn on the broiler to brown my potatoes.

Now that I’ve tasted porchetta-style turkey, I don’t think I’ll ever want to cook it differently. The turkey was juicy, flavorful, and paired perfectly with my side dishes. This recipe was also much healthier than most porchetta recipes, which generally use high-fat pork meat and lots of salt. There’s nothing better than cozying up with a comforting, nutritious, and tasty turkey dinner this time of year.

This recipe would be great for a group on Thanksgiving, but can also be made year-round. I love dishes like this that can be cooked on a weekend, making enough leftovers to enjoy for several days after. Tomorrow I think I’ll add a little cranberry jelly and arugula to the turkey, put it on whole wheat bread, and enjoy a yummy sandwich for lunch!

Here’s the recipe: Roasted Turkey Breast Porchetta-Style. If you try and have tips, please share.

Per serving: 183 calories, 8 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat),
2 g carbohydrate, 24 g protein,<1 g dietary fiber, 316 mg sodium.

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    Author: Sonja
    Thanks to Sonja Goedkoop for guest blogging.

    Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is the lead registered dietitian at Zesty, Inc. She is passionate about helping others improve their health through diet and physical activity and believes eating nutritious food should be easy and taste great. You can follow her on Twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.

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