Saturday, November 25, 2006

Luscious Turkey Breasts

Don't be freaked by the picture. I can't imagine another way to turn out turkey breasts more moist and delicious than these. It's posted post Thanksgiving because of misgivings on the part of Mrs. Yi that the half inch layer of flavored mayonnaise coating would roll off as these five pound breasts were roasted.

In all likelihood, the originator of this preparation is no less an icon than Thomas Keller, the force behind the French Laundry, Per Se, and more. "Thomas Keller's Mayonnaise Coated Turkey Breast" is what my records show for the title. The recipe appears to have been clipped from a late 1990's copy of Esquire, but I can't be sure and am unable to verify its existence in any cookbook or anywhere on the web.

As for the picture, Mrs. Yi turned out to be partially correct about the mayonnaise rolling off, but it wasn't until we moved the turkey breasts from the rack upon which they were baked to a platter and began to carve them that this occurred. By then, the mayonnaise had accomplished its purpose of imparting a delicate flavor and most important keeping the meat moist.

Before we print this, let me share that my original recipe called for a three pound turkey breast, and we used five pound breasts. In both instances the proper roasting time is until the meat thermometer registers 160 degrees.


1 5 pound turkey breast
3 1/2 cups home-made or very high quality mayonnaise, the thicker the better
1 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon plus small pinch of powdered clove
7/8 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place an oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a cooling rack. Rinse the breast and pat dry with paper towels. Trim away excess skin and fat. Mix the mayonnaise with the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the underside of the breast with salt and pepper and completely cover the skin side with mayonnaise-nutmeg, clove, paprika mixture. Spread as evenly as possible. Coating should be about 1/2 inch thick. Place the breast, mayonnaise side up, on the rack and roast until the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees F. The coating will have turned black. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before carving.