Food Editor's Notes: This is an easy entrée to make any time of the year, but especially appropriate on Thanksgiving for white-meat eaters. If you use this technique, you will have plenty of natural juices for a thin gravy (pour some over the cut slices of meat to keep moist and/or drizzle over the stuffing cooked in a separate casserole dish) or to thicken for mashed potatoes. (There is usually enough so that I serve both.) The skin is usually browned sufficiently due to the initial high searing, but if isn't crisp enough for you at the end, just leave it under the broiler for a couple of minutes and that will do the trick – just watch it carefully. Leftovers make excellent sandwiches, and don't forget to save the carcass for soup!
1 whole turkey breast, with bone, 3 1/2 to 7 pounds
Onion salt and paprika, seasoned salt, or a dry rub or marinade of your choice
Margarine or chicken fat (optional)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and remove all racks except the bottom one.
Rinse and pat dry the turkey breast and sprinkle the spices all around the outside of the breast. Before spicing, you can rub the turkey skin with margarine or chicken fat if you'd like, but I don't usually do that. (Or, instead of the above, you can rub over or cover the turkey with a marinade or dry rub mixture and refrigerator for an hour or more before cooking.)
Place the turkey breast on a rack in a roasting pan that has a cover (or have the wide, heavy duty aluminum foil handy). Roast, UNCOVERED, for 1/2 hour at 450 degrees. Then cover the turkey, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and roast until done, approximately 18 minutes per pound. A 7-pound turkey breast should take about 2 hours, but to be absolutely sure, use an instant-read thermometer and remove the breast when it reaches 160-165 degrees. Let sit for at least 15 minutes on the counter for the inner juices to settle. It will continue to cook while resting, and the inner temperature should reach 175 degrees. Don't leave it in the oven too long or it will be dry. Slice the meat thinly and place on a platter. Tent with foil to keep warm if not serving immediately.
Once or twice through the cooking time, I remove the pan from the oven, remove the turkey from the pan, and pour out some of the natural juices and fat that have dripped down. This is an inconvenience, and adds a few minutes to the total preparation time, but it maximizes the amount I have for gravy, leaving less to evaporate in the oven. (At this point, you can also baste the turkey with the drippings.) If you overcook the turkey and the slices look dry in the end, just pour some of the natural gravy over them on the platter. No one will ever know.
Jamie Stolper is the Food Editor of ShalomBoston.com