Since fall is now upon us (unless you live in Florida like me, but I digress), my inspiration for this recipe was a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. Of course these days more and more people are exploring non-traditional meals to celebrate this holiday, which is fantastic and something I’ve also done in the past, but I was really looking to capture the essence of the Thanksgiving meals that I grew up with. And I’ve tried to keep it as simple and as reasonably priced as possible so that practically anyone can reproduce this recipe.
There are lots of substitutions you can make here. You can buy pre-cooked, pre-cut turkey breast if your time is limited, or if you happen to have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving that works too. You can substitute chicken broth or boullion for the chicken stock, just be careful with the salt level. You might be tempted to buy pre-made gravy, but I beg of you, don’t do it. I promise you that making gravy is really easy, and much better than the prepared stuff.
For the turkey breast:
- 1 turkey breast (can be boneless and/or skinless, although I think it’s better with both)
- 4oz of salted butter (half a stick), softened
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine the butter, poultry seasoning, paprika, and salt and pepper. Loosen the skin with your fingers and distribute half of the butter between the skin and the meat. Use the other half to coat the outside of the skin and the underside of the breast. Place on a sheet pan and roast in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Baste the turkey with the drippings from the pan. Return to oven and roast until the juices run clear and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, not touching bone, reads 165 degrees F (65 degrees C), about 30 more minutes. Slice into half inch cubes.
For the gravy:
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup milk or cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons flour
- salt and pepper to taste
Freshly ground nutmeg really makes this gravy, so don’t use the pre-ground stuff. Besides, whole nutmeg keeps forever. Just a few passes over a microplane grater and you’re good to go. Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and reduce heat to low. Continue to whisk until the butter and flour are golden brown. Whisk in the chicken stock and milk or cream. Add the poultry seasoning, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Continue to whisk until gravy is desired consistency.
For the bowls:
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 2 cups butternut squash, roasted
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts, roasted
- 1 cup onions, sauteed in butter or olive oil
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pepitas
I used jasmine rice for my bowls, but you can use whatever kind of rice you like. I added some poultry seasoning to the rice and cooked it in half chicken stock, half water, but that’s entirely optional. And if you eat rice on a regular basis, take my advice and get a cheap electric rice cooker. You’ll thank me for it.
As for the veggies, you can certainly swap out the squash and Brussels sprouts for other fall veggies…green beans, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes. I cut the stems off the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half, then tossed them in extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. The squash I peeled and cut into half inch squares and also tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Then onto a sheet pan and into a 350 degree oven until they are fork tender and have a little caramelization (browning) on them, about 20 minutes.
To assemble your bowls, just start with some rice at the bottom. Then arrange your veggies and turkey on top, add some gravy, and top with the cranberries and pepitas. Enjoy!