We all love a hearty turkey sandwhich for lunch! But the nitrates pumped into that salty, floppy, meat leaves us feeling guilty and bloated. Sure, you can opt for the additive free deli meat at $8-$12 a pound; or you could skip the deli counter and make your own! It's cheap, it's easy, and it's totally customizable!
Step 1: Gather the Goods!
You'll need to get everything together before we begin. The ingredients list varies GREATLY depending on what type of turkey you're going for. But you will need these necessary things:
-A Turkey Breast (whole turkeys tend to dry out around the breast area, which is the only meat were concerned with today)
-A sharp knife to carve with
-twine or butchers string
-A meat thermometer, because safety.
You will also want to gather your seasonings of choice; and I can't express enough to use your creativity!
For this tutorial, I am using a honeysuckle cajun-marinated breast. I stuck with the cajun theme by seasoning with garlic, onion powder, black pepper, and a healthy amount of quality chili powder. Other options that I love is BBQ turkey breast using a dry rub; rosemary and lemon; honey mesquite; and simple salt and pepper.
Step 2: Prep the Breast
Before we go mindlessly sticking this beautiful bird breast in the oven, we need to prep it. Now..we're creative makers right? We're not gonna let this bird tell us how to cook her! We're not gonna be tricked into cooking something straight from the store!
Go ahead and open up your packaging (if it comes with a gravy packet you can keep if you'd like, but we won't be needing it for this recipe) drain the juices, and remove the netting. Yes, you heard me right. Remove that netting. Trust me. While you're at it, remove that floppy skin over the top of the breast. Yes, I know it's yummy, but we don't need it for deli meat and it's gonna get in our way.
Now, you see all that seasoning coating your breast? (Talking about the bird here) Go ahead and rinse that all off. The poultry has been marinating in that salty brine; it's already absorbed much of the flavor. We don't need that salty brine fowling up our sandwhiches this week! (See what I did there? Fowling? Okay, moving on)
Step 3: It's All About the Taste, Bout the Taste (Season It)
We're gonna up the ante and give this bird a run for its money! Now that we have rinsed off the salty brine; get to seasoning! Let your taste buds lead you; I like to season both sides to penetrate flavor all around.
Seriously, season it any way you want to. This is the best part because you can make varieties that the deli just doesn't have.
Once you have your breast seasoned, we're gonna rewrap it in our twine or butchers string so she keeps it together in the oven. You could try to wrap it in the pretty netting-style criss cross wrap that it comes in, but if you're like me..you're just gonna wrap it around a few times and tie it tightly. Unless you're putting it on a rotisserie spit (which I definitely do recommend!) then it doesn't have to be perfect.
Step 4: Get Her in the Oven
We're gonna go ahead and start the roasting process. Stick it in an oven preheated to 450. This step really doesn't require a whole lot of explanation.
Take birdy breast, stick in hot oven.
Step 5: Test the Breast, Then Rest the Breast
We're going for a temp of 165¤F which is going to take between 60 and 90 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer so we aren't making any salmonella sammies.
Let it rest for 30 mins or so, then put it into the fridge to chill. This step is super important. Other than checking that the temp is safe, I think this is the MOST VITAL step in the recipe. It's much easier to slice the breast once it's chilled. Not cutting into it early is going to allow those juices to fully redistribute, leaving you with moist flavorful lunch meat.
(Note: the pic of my meat thermometer is NOT stating it is done. You read from the red notch. Just didn't want to be responsible for any food poisonings ;D )
Step 6: Slice Her on Up, and Call It a Day!
Okay, we've seasoned it. We've cooked it. We even restrained ourselves from slicing into that warm, aromatic turkey. We're almost done!
Now that the breast is chilled, we're gonna slice it thin. I'm assuming that, like me, you don't have a commercial meat slicer in your kitchen. So get yourself a sharp knife (I prefer serrated) and a meat fork and get to slicing. Slice it as thin as you can get it and don't worry if it starts to shred a little bit.
Step 7: Enjoy It Now, Enjoy It Later.
And look at that! We're done! Make yourself a tall sammie--you deserve it! And enjoy your delicious DIY lunch meat for wraps, sandwhiches, salads, or whatever your heart desires! Don't forget to brag to all the other mommies at school about your super-easy, super-cheap, super-flavorful nitrate free lunch meats!
Store in an airtight ziploc bag in the fridge, consume within 4-5 days.