Is my family the only one who doesn’t like traditional turkey and fixings for Christmas? After getting up at the crack of dawn to begin roasting the turkey and spending what seems like “hours” in the kitchen to fix the perfect Christmas dinner, I finally got the message. My family really doesn’t care for turkey and dressing or all the ceremony that goes along with carving the turkey. For several years I quit serving a turkey dinner at all. But, I like turkey. This year I plan to cook a small boneless turkey breast instead of a large bone-in turkey for Christmas. For a Louisiana twist, this turkey recipe is full of spices and great flavors. It is very tender and well-seasoned. This surprisingly simple recipe is a “keeper.” I have made it several times to fine-tune the recipe for our Christmas gathering. Each time, the turkey quickly disappeared.
To make this recipe, I marinated a boneless 3-pound turkey breast in a flavorful brine of Louisiana cane syrup, lots of fresh garlic, orange juice, course salt, cracked black pepper and bay leaves. For more flavor, I rubbed the breast with butter mixed with Cajun seasonings before roasting. I added vegetables around the turkey while it roasted so this makes most of a meal for our small family gathering. The turkey breast cooks in about 45 minutes. No need to tend to it for hours. The meat turned out so very tender and well-seasoned. With my trial runs, everyone loved it! There were no leftovers.
This way I get the best of both worlds. I have a traditional turkey for dinner and my family likes the turkey. Plus, I get to enjoy all the festivities of the day without being exhausted from hours in the kitchen tending to a large turkey.
We are in Louisiana, so why not use some of the wonderful seasonings which make this cuisine so delicious. Garlic is a favorite — I like lots of garlic — the more the better when added to this marinade mix. I added at least six crushed cloves. And Louisiana Steen’s Cane syrup gives a sweet molasses flavor. Course salt helps tenderize the turkey and bay leaves and peppercorns are flavorful components These ingredients, plus orange juice, are all that go into the simple six-ingredient marinate.
To make the recipe, let the turkey breast defrost thoroughly in the refrigerator, removing the netting and any added packages such as a gravy mix. Add the marinade ingredients plus the turkey breast to a large zip lock bag. Yes, this turkey breast easily fits in a gallon zip lock bag and into your refrigerator. Marinate overnight in the brine while turning the breast over from time time time.
When you are ready to roast the turkey breast, remove it from the marinade and place it in a roasting pan. (I added some of the marinade to the bottom of the pan.) Add fresh, cut up vegetables — carrots, celery, onions — and potatoes (not shown).
Prior to roasting, I rubbed the breast with a combination of butter and Cajun “spices.” I also doused some of this spice mix onto the vegetables. (See the end of the post for the Cajun spice mix blend recipe.) Place a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast meat to gage the internal temperature as the breast cooks. After half an hour, I added frozen Brussels sprouts (or you could add fresh ones at the beginning of the roasting process).
Remove the turkey breast from the oven when the internal temperature rises to about 165 – 170 degrees. The temperature will continue to increase as the breast rests on your counter for about half an hour until you carve it. No need to let the temperature to rise to 180 degrees — that is too high.
Transfer the carved turkey breast and vegetables to a colorful platter. Dinner is served!
Enjoy this flavorful “Cajun-Inspired” turkey breast at a holiday meal, or really at any meal!
We hope you have a great Christmas gathering with family and friends this year!
Roasted Boneless Turkey Breast with a touch of Cajun Spices
- 3-lb boneless turkey breast
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup
- 6 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tsp course salt
- 1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaves
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut in 1″ chunks
- 2 celery stalks, cut in 1″ chunks
- 2 medium white onions, peeled and cut in wedges
- 16-oz package frozen Brussels sprouts
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 2 tsp Cajun Spice Mix
- fresh parsley or cilantro, garnish, optional
- whole red peppers, garnish, optional
Instructions and Steps:
- Defrost turkey in refrigerator completely. When ready to use, remove netting and remove any packages which might come with turkey such as gravy package. Wash and pat turkey breast dry.
- Mix ingredients for marinate in large 1 gallon zip lock bag — Orange juice, Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup, crushed garlic, course salt, crushed black peppercorns and bay leaves. Gently use your hands to mix ingredients.
- Add turkey breast, mix around and close zip lock. Marinate in refrigerator overnight, or at least for several hours, turning occasionally.
- Meanwhile, prepare fresh vegetables — peel and slice carrots, wash and slice celery, peel and quarter onions. (These can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated.)
- When ready to roast turkey, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove turkey breast from ziplock bag and pat dry.
- Place breast in center of roasting pan. Arrange fresh vegetables around it. Pour some of the marinade around vegetables and turkey.
- Mix Cajun spices with melted butter. Use a pastry brush to spread butter/spice mix over turkey breast and vegetables.
- Place a meat thermometer in center of a large piece of turkey meat. Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Add Brussel sprouts around turkey.
- Cook turkey for 15 additional minutes until temperature reaches 165 to 170 degrees F.
- Remove turkey from oven and let set on kitchen counter for about 30 minutes. Temperature should increase to around 180 degrees.
- Transfer turkey to carving board and carve. Place slices on serving plate and surround with cooked vegetables. Pour any juices in pan over turkey slices.
- Garnish with marinated red peppers and either parsley or cilantro.
Cajun Spice Mix
- Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt, optional
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- 1 tsp ground oregano
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cayenne pepper
Instructions and Steps:
- In small bowl, mix together all ingredients.
- Store Cajun Spice Mix in air-tight spice container, labeled, until ready to use.
Sounds delicious! About how long does it take to defrost the turkey this size?
Hello, It really doesn’t take long to defrost this breast compared to a turkey. This boneless breast defrosts overnight or in 1 day, but I took mine out 2 days ahead to make sure of when I was going to marinate it. If you make it, hope you like it!
Hello, If you do make this, I used a 3 lb Butterball boneless turkey breast — I found it at Walmart Superstore as well as Albertsons — once it defrosts, you will find several smaller breast pieces, just flatten them out and push them together. You could actually fit 2 of these boneless turkey breasts in a gallon-size zip lock bag which is what I’m planning on doing. Hope you have a great Christmas!
Thanks for the tips and a great Christmas to you as well!
Sorry, I meant to say turkey breast.
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