Monday, January 20, 2014

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Even though my first effort at cooking turkey was less than successful--tasted good, but dry as the dessert and tough, I embarked on this ginormous hunk of meat with confidence. I spent a lot of time on the internet scouring recipes and techniques to find the best way to cook moist and delicious  turkey. The recipe I settled on was this Crock Pot Turkey recipe from SkinnyTaste--love that blog! Of course, I'm bad at following directions, and I'd read so many other recipes and tips, so I figured that before I put the turkey in the pot I'd do a little dry rub to get some extra flavor in. I found the outline of the dry rub on this website, and modified it somewhat for my smaller bird. I will say going in that I didn't use all of the rub and I used too much, so go easy if you follow this--though the flavor is really really good!


Dry Rub:
1 tbs black peppercorns
1/2 tbs pink peppercorns
1/2 tbs white peppercorns
3 or so bay leaves
fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary
1/4 c kosher salt
zest of one orange and two lemons

I bought a mix of peppercorns, instead of each color separately--I couldn't find whole white peppercorns, and the pink ones were over 15$ for a bottle. I did pick out the pink and white and green ones to go with the black ones. They were all tossed in a small skillet and toasted until they became fragrant, keeping them moving so they don't burn. Once that was done, I zested the orange and lemons, and tossed that, the peppercorns, bay leaves, salt, and fresh herbs in my blender with the grinder blade on. YUM--the rub is so fragrant and full of bold flavors, and putting it in the blender made it easy to spread on the bird.

I used my fingers to pull up the turkey's skin and pushed the rub all over the flesh, making sure to get it all over both sides. This was my very first time doing this, and I used WAY too much rub--see how dark it is? I put the dry rubbed breast in a plastic bag and in another bag and in the freezer overnight. The original Skinnytaste recipe didn't call for any brining, and while it looked yummy, I worried about the flavor. Besides this step, I mostly followed the directions.

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots chopped medium (my carrots were very small0
2 celery rib, chopped medium
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/3 cup flour
2 cups low sodium broth (I used vegetable, because I didn't have any chicken broth)
1 cup water
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp fresh sage
2 bay leaves
4-6 lb whole bone-in turkey breast, skin on, trimmed of fat (my turkey was bigger than the original recipe--and it was the smallest in the store!)
salt and pepper

In a skillet heated to medium high heat, I cooked the onions carrots, and celery in the olive oil until the onions had started to soften. Then stirred in the flour and cooked until it was golden brown. I added the white wine to deglaze the pan and get all of the flour and any golden bits up. This mix is added to a crockpot and the rest of the broth was added and mixed together. To this, I added the turkey breast--which I had used paper towels to wipe off the excess dry rub.

This went on low for 5-7 hours--though I checked the temp around 4 hours and it was showing 180 in some spots, but I was worried it wasn't consistently cooked, so I flipped it around and let it cook for another hour or so while I worked on the sides. I served this with cauliflower mash and roasted brussels sprouts. Once they were going, I took out the turkey and let it rest on a cutting board covered with tinfoil for about 20 minutes.
The liquid and veggies sat for 5 minutes in the pot, so it could settle, and then the fat layer was skimmed off and discarded. Because of the dry rub it was really salty and peppery--too much so to use. So after straining and removing the celery I discarded half of the liquid and added broth and water and pureed the veggies in the liquid. After that cooked down for a bit, it was not too seasoned, and was delicious!

The Verdict: This is absolutely something I will do again! The turkey was so flavorful and juicy, the gravy turned out an excellent partnership with the turkey and the cauliflower. It made a lot of turkey, but it was so easy to use in a lot of dishes that I ate the whole thing within a week. I'd probably go easier on the dry rub next time, but it did give the turkey a robust flavor unlike some slow cooked meats that are more mushy.

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