Tuesday, May 19, 2009

148. Poached Whole Turkey Breast (p. 386) and 149. Lemon-Marinated Turkey with Golden Raisins, Capers and Pine Nuts (p. 383)

This is the first of several posts about food that I made for a lunch buffet for my son's dedication ceremony on Mother's Day. Since the ceremony was on a Sunday morning, and lunch was going to follow immediately afterward, I wanted to make things that I could cook ahead, and that could be served cold.

This recipe for poached whole turkey breast, and this recipe for serving the poached turkey in a lemon marinade* seemed like the perfect choice for a cold lunch buffet.

First, I made the poached turkey breast. I started with a seven-pound fresh whole turkey breast from Raymond's Turkey Farm just down the street from my house (here's to locally-produced food!). I put the turkey breast in my biggest stock pot, which as it turns out isn't that big after all. I filled the pot up to the brim with water and it barely covered the turkey. It looked even more like the Loch Ness Monster than Melissa's turkey. The creepy Scottish loch vibe continued as the water, which was precariously close to the top of the pot, kept boiling over as the turkey cooked. Anyway, I added some chopped carrots and onion along with some vinegar, bay leaves, salt and peppercorns. The Book says to simmer for 1 1/4 hours, but because my turkey was a bit larger than the five- to six-pound breast called for, and because I'm unreasonably afraid of undercooking poultry, I cooked it for about 1 3/4 hours. Then I let it cool in the cooking liquid for about a half hour before draining it, removing the skin and bones and cutting the breast into two large pieces for the marinated turkey dish. (I was also able to pick a good amount of meat off the bones, which I chopped up and made into a simple turkey salad. Pretty good!)

Next it was on to the marinade. I soaked some golden raisins in some boiling water to plump them up. Meanwhile, I took the zest off a couple of large lemons with a vegetable peeler, and squeezed the juice from the lemons. I whisked the juice together with some balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and quite a bit of olive oil. I mixed in the zest, raisins and some capers which I had drained and rinsed. I poured the marinade over the turkey, which I had placed in a large bowl. I marinated the turkey overnight, turning it a few times.

The morning of the ceremony, I sliced the turkey and arranged it on a platter. I strained the marinade and sprinkled the zest, raisins and capers over the turkey along with some pine nuts that I had toasted and some chopped parsley and mint. Finally I drizzled the marinade over the turkey, wrapped it tightly with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until lunch.

This was a very nice way to eat cold turkey. The marinade was delicious with a nice interplay of the different flavors of the zesty lemon, the sweet raisins and the salty capers. The pine nuts gave the turkey a nice toastiness and crunch, and the chopped herbs contributed a light freshness. There's a lot going on here, but it didn't seem like too much. The only thing that there was a little too much of was the olive oil. The marinade did seem just a little bit greasy. But over all, I liked it, and it got good reviews from our guests.

The dedication ceremony was very nice. It was also very touching to mark this special occasion on my wife's first Mother's Day, and to visit with my parents (up from Pennsylvania), and the rest of my and my wife's families.

Date Cooked: May 9, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: B+

*Neither of these recipes are on epicurious.com

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