I like turkey. GM swears I could eat turkey sandwiches every day and be content. He might be right. I despise the deli version, I like REAL turkey. White meat or dark, I like them both. BUT…for sheer meat simplicity, the turkey breast is extremely useful. Why the breast? The proportion of meat to bone & skin is the highest.
So what can you do with it?
Almost anything! The turkey breast itself can be de-boned, normally resulting in two large breast meat fillets, while leaving a substantial portion of meat on the bones. The skin and bones can then be used for soups and stocks, whether it is roasted first or simply added to the stock pot. (Roasting it gives it a deeper color and richer flavor, but simply boiling it creates a lighter stock and is often easier.)
Those wonderful fillets of breast meat are now filled with possibilities. Sliced into thin slices, they can be wrapped around a filling such as cheese & broccoli, ham & swiss cheese, mushrooms, bacon & swiss, nacho cheese, wild rice stuffing, etc. Breaded and fried, they are suddenly a gourmet meal. Broiled and served, they are a low fat gourmet meal. The raw turkey can be stir fried in any dish calling for chicken too. Chicken fried turkey with country gravy anyone? Turkey & broccoli alfredo? Grilled turkey fillet? Even real turkey “nuggets” or popcorn turkey! The possibilities are endless!
It’s easier to use than chicken breasts, and often less expensive. It’s much quicker to bone enough meat for a family meal too. It’s flavor is close enough to chicken to not be regarded suspiciously by picky eaters. It’s easier to digest than beef or pork, and fewer people seem to have upset stomachs after turkey. (Except on Thanksgiving Day…and that’s likely to be the sheer overeating issue!)
To use the breast alone is often much more small family friendly too. Most breasts weigh about 5-6 lbs., including the bones. The average whole turkey is in the 10-14 lb. range, including bone. There is a huge difference!
Typically, I’ll buy the turkey breast which can be stored in the freezer until a day or two before I want to use it. It’s then thawed, which is recommended to be done in the refrigerator. The thawed turkey breast can then dissected!
Simply begin at the “back” (the wider, blunt end) and start sliding a sharp knife between the bone and the meat. A thin, sharp knife usually works best. The entire point is to separate the two by pulling the breast away, and cutting any connective tissue. It may be necessary to split the breast into the two halves. Once the breast is separated from the bone, pull the skin away by holding the breast down and working the skin away. At that point, if the breast wasn’t separated into two halves before, you can now cut it apart, and process it according to your needs. (Chunks, strips, slices, etc.) The skin and bones are ready to use to make stock.
Save yourself some money, make some meals that are sure to impress, and try turkey breast yourself. You’ll wonder what you ever bothered with chicken breasts for!