Thursday, March 18, 2010

Turkey Breasts with Leeks, Mushrooms and Colcannon Cakes

Basically, as a preface to this recipe, I am going to admit that yesterday practically NOTHING went my way.  Because of St. Paddy's day, the parade made it absolutely impossible to get around the city.  And when I went to the grocery store that afternoon to buy the last few things I needed for dinner, the first grocery store didn't have all-purpose flour.  Who doesn't have all-purpose flour?  They had all sorts of fancy cake, buckwheat, self-rising, and other gourmet flours, but no plain old all-purpose flour.  So it was on to grocery store number two.  And then while at the grocery store I looked at my watch and realized it was already after 4pm.  The stout-braised short ribs I had intended to cook needed to braise for at least 4 hours, after having been browned and getting the vegetables all prepped and sauteed.  So I realized that unless I wanted to eat at 10pm, I was going to have to come up with an Irish plan B.  So I called Alex in desperation and he went online and found some Irish recipes on the BBC website.  This turkey recipe won by default because I had all of the ingredients I needed, except for the turkey breasts.  Only the grocery store didn't have turkey breasts.  Crap.  So it was off to the butcher, who luckily for me, I knew had turkey breasts because I had walked by with the dog and seen them in the display case that morning.  Score.  By the way, I love my butcher.  The guys there are all super nice.  Moving on.

By that time it was 6pm.  So Alex and I ran home, printed out the recipe, and realized the recipe wanted me to use basically every pan and/or pot in the entire house, plus stove-top burners that I just don't have.  It wanted me to have like 5 pans going at one time.  Double crap.  But since we had everything all ready to go, I started figuring out how to modify the recipe to cut down on pans.  As it was, I used 1 large soup pot, 1 huge non-stick pan, 2 10-inch saute pans, and a cast iron skillet.  That doesn't even begin to take into account the number of cutting boards, knives, prep bowls, etc.  As I was prepping and then cooking (and imagining what a Herculean feat cleaning would be) all I could think was "this turkey had better be freaking awesome!"

And it was delicious.  In the future I might forgo the Colcannon cakes (which were also very tasty), but the turkey itself is a definite keeper.  The skin was golden brown and crispy, and it had amazing flavor once you drizzled some of the shallot white wine sauce over top.  As an aside, the recipe used up an amazing amount of butter (even though I cut down on the amounts it asked for dramatically).  And everything tastes better with butter!  So if you're not butter-shy, or afraid of some serious dish-washing after dinner, give this a try!  And even if you are terminally afraid of dish-washing, go ahead and just make the turkey and the sauce.  Which will only use up one cast iron pan (or other oven-safe pan), and will be well worth your trouble.  I promise.  Served with a nice salad and some fresh bread (and you don't even have to bake your own Irish soda bread like I did), it would be a wonderful meal.

Recipe after the jump!

Turkey Breasts with Leeks, Mushrooms and Colcannon Cakes
Adapted from BBC Recipes

1 whole turkey breast, with skin on, halved (about 1 lb.)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
4 oz. leeks, washed, trimmed and cut into 1cm thick slices
For the sauce:
2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
6 tbsp dry white win
1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
4 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and sliced into individual tbsp
For the Colcannon Cakes:
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 5cm/2in cubes
2 tbsp butter
one-third head savoy cabbage, outer leaves removed, cored and finely chopped
4 scallions, greens and whites, finely chopped 
2 tbsp all-purpose flour, for dusting
2 tbsp evoo

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Trim the turkey breasts, removing any excess fat (if any).  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Heat a cast iron frying pan over a moderate heat.  Once the pan is hot, add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and 1 tbsp of butter.  Wait until the butter stops foaming, then add the turkey breasts, skin-side down, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the skin is nicely golden-brown.  Turn the turkey breasts over for 1 minute.  Flip the turkey breasts back over so they are skin-side down and place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer reads at least 150 degrees F.
While the turkey is roasting, begin working on the vegetables.  First, place the cubed potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water.  Bring the water to a boil, then lower to simmer for 10 minutes.  Potatoes should be fork-tender, but not mushy.  Drain thoroughly in a colander and set aside in a large mixing bowl.  Once the potatoes are out of the pot, return the pot to high heat and add 2 tbsp of butter, plus 1/2 cup water.  Once butter is melted, add the cabbage and s&p.  Cook cabbage until it is cooked and the water has almost evaporated.  Add scallions.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture starts to brown.  Taste and season with more s&p if necessary.  Add cabbage and scallion mixture to the bowl with the potatoes.  Mash or crush the cabbage and potatoes together roughly using your hands.  Still using your hands, form the mixture into four equal sized balls.  Dust the colcannon with flour and press into neat patties.

While the potatoes are cooking, saute the mushrooms in a medium saute pan over a high heat in 1 tbsp butter mixed with 1 tsp evoo.  Season mushrooms with pepper.  Once mushrooms start to turn a nice golden color, season with salt.  Cook the leeks in another  saute pan, with 1 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp of water and a little salt and pepper, for about 3 minutes or until the water has evaporated and the leeks are tender.   Taste mushrooms and leeks to see if they need more s&p.  Keep the mushrooms and leeks warm.
Once the turkey is cooked, remove it from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes on a plate or cutting board, tented with aluminum foil.  If there is a lot of oil remaining in the pan, discard all but 1-2 tbsp.  Add the shallots to the pan and cook for two minutes over low heat.  Add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up the fond (the caramelized bits crusted on the bottom of the pan).  Raise temperature to medium-high.  Boil the wine until almost all of the wine has evaporated, then add 1/4 cup water.  Bring sauce to a boil again.  Add the rosemary to the sauce and then gradually whisk in the butter.
Heat the 2 tbsp evoo with 2 tbsp butter in a frying pan until the butter foams.  Add the colcannon patties and cook over a moderately high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and serve.

Place each turkey breast on a plate, with the colcannon cakes and the sauteed leeks and mushrooms.  Drizzle the sauce liberally over the turkey and the colcannon cakes.  Serve immediately.

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