Yesterday, I did something awesome. I cooked dinner, and as Dillon ate it, he said it was the best meal I ever cooked.
Now, when I was first married, Dillon had a ranking system. One to four. I usually got twos, sometimes threes. Never fours. Ever. (Maybe one time he may have mentioned it, but I can’t remember right now for sure, so it doesn’t matter.)
But yesterday’s dinner was food at its best. And it would have gotten a four if Dillon still ranked meals like that, but he’s gotten a lot smarter and he doesn’t do such a thing.
It was a simple meal: turkey breast, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn. That’s it. Oh, and cranberries for me and MM, but not Dillon. He doesn’t go for cranberries.
I had found a turkey the other day at a grocery store for 50 cents a pound. Ridiculously cheap, particularly in February. I’m thinking they still had leftovers from the holidays and really didn’t want to hang onto them. So I got a turkey.
I was going to roast it whole, because that’s what you do with a turkey, right? But then I got to thinking that there is just three of us, and MM doesn’t eat very much. Last time I cooked a turkey for just my little family, we couldn’t eat it all.
So I decided to butcher it into pieces. And because I really like white meat better than dark meat and I didn’t want to mess with the dark meat. I just wanted my turkey breast.
After a quick Google search, I mangled my turkey into pieces. Not a great job, but since it was my first time butchering just about anything, I did all right. Cut off the wings and the legs, and then cut the breasts off so I had too large boneless, skinless, turkey breasts. Which my turkey was on the small side, so they just looked like some chicken breasts I’ve had before.
I cooked one breast only. I took the skin and wrapped it around the breast. I smothered the whole thing in butter, both on top of the skin and underneath the skin. I put some spices on, the ones that I had around and sounded like they went good with turkey.
I placed in a pan in an oven at 350 degrees and let it cook just like that.
And here is the key to having juicy meat: do not overcook it. I think turkey is dry because people overcook turkey. It has nothing to do with basting and brining and all of that. It is simply because it is overcooked.
My goal was to reach 160 degrees. According to my turkey packaging, I should have cooked it to 180 degrees, which was ridiculous. Really, poultry should reach 165 to be safe to eat, but the meat keeps cooking some after it comes out of the oven. So we checked it with a meat thermometer to make sure it got cooked enough, but not overcooked.
It wasn’t the perfect way to cook a turkey. The skin was disgusting, but helped keep the breast nice and moist instead of drying out in the oven. So we just discarded the skin.
The mashed potatoes were russet potatoes peeled and boiled, then put through a potato ricer and finished with butter, milk, and sour cream. Simple. The gravy was the gravy from the packet in the turkey, substituting turkey broth I made for the drippings because I made it before the turkey was done.
And we sat down to eat.
That first bite of turkey was so awesome. You don’t know how good turkey can taste. It was the most moist turkey I have ever eaten in my life, and the seasonings were actually present. The potatoes were just mashed potatoes, but in a good way.
And MM was completely unimpressed with the whole meal. She ate the cranberries first and then wasn’t too fond of anything else.
But Dillon and I–well, we’re never going to cook turkey whole again.