Roast turkey for a small gathering

Roasting a turkey breast is a practical solution for a small Thanksgiving gathering. It’s quick, makes a lovely presentation, and there will be a manageable amount of leftovers. If the die-hard, dark-meat lovers grumble, just offer them an extra piece of pie. This turkey breast will be moist, beautifully browned, and brightly flavored with lemon juice and fresh herbs.


1 whole (double) (4 1/2 to 5 pounds) bone-in turkey breast
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme minced
2 teaspoons fresh sage minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth


Position a rack on the second-lowest level in the oven and preheat to 375°F. Trim any visible fat from the turkey breast, and save the neck, if included, for making gravy. Pat the turkey breast dry with paper towels. Place a rack in a roasting pan and set the turkey breast on the rack.

In a 2-cup glass measure, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, rosemary, and thyme. At the top of the breast, slide your fingers back and forth under the skin to separate it from the breast meat, creating a pocket over the entire breast. Pour half the mixture inside this pocket, and the rest over the turkey breast, coating it well. Season the turkey with salt and pepper to taste. Set the turkey breast on the rack, skin side up.

Roast the turkey breast, basting every 30 minutes, until the juices run clear when a sharp knife is inserted into the thickest part of the breast, or when an instant-read thermometer, inserted in the same spot and not touching bone, registers 165ºF, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the turkey breast to a carving board, and cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. Allow the turkey breast to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving to let the juices set.

While the turkey is resting, make a quick gravy. In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, mix together the flour and 2 tablespoons of the chicken stock. Place the roasting pan over medium heat, add the remaining stock to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Using a wooden spoon, scrape and loosen any brown bits sticking to the bottom and sides of the pan. Shake the flour mixture again and add to the stock in the pan. Stir until the gravy is smooth and thickened; then ladle into a gravy boat or small bowl.

Carve the turkey breast following the directions on page 80. Serve, accompanied by the gravy.