I used to think that I did a fair amount of cooking for myself. Sure, I ate pre-boxed cereals like Grape-Nuts and used mass-produced bread and turkey breast for my sandwiches, but surely that doesn’t count, right? You can’t make those things for yourself!!!
Then one day I woke up and realized, “Wait a minute, it is not natural for turkey breast to come in this shape. Plus this stuff doesn’t have nutrition labels I can read, so god only knows what they put in it!” Luckily, I had this epiphany around Thanksgiving and I had just gotten myself a brand new roasting pan. After eating leftover homemade turkey sandwiches for a couple of days, I decided something in my daily lunch routine had to change. “What the hell,” I thought. I had just started baking my own bread, so I figured I might as well go whole hog.
So I looked in some cookbooks and magazines for some inspiration. Some suggested brining before roasting, but one of the big reasons I decided to start doing this myself was to get away from all that sodium. Some suggested marinades, but I wanted a (relatively) quick fix. Others suggested lemon, but that tires pretty quickly for me.
Then I remembered our Thankgiving Turkey Trifecta: Sage. Rosemary. Thyme. And no, I am not going to Scarborough Fair!
Eureeka! It’s genius. So I minced up these fresh herbs and some garlic (because garlic makes everything better). I drizzled just a tad of olive oil over the mix to make it more paste-like and easy to handle. Instead of stuffing the cavity (as is the fate of the turkey), I borrowed an idea from Cook’s Illustrated and used my fingers to loosen the skin from the breast and thighs (they actually suggest using a chopstick to do this because “fingers are more likely to tear the skin” but I disagree — your fingers can bend. I’ve never torn the skin with my hand) and rubbed the meat with the herbs generously. Then I prepped the limbs for the oven, turned it breast-down (this helps the white and dark meat reach safe eating temperatures at the same time), and popped it in the oven. Twenty minutes later I flipped it on its back and let it continue to cook until the instant-read thermometer said it was done.
I will swear up and down that this is the best sandwich meat ever. After cooking your own lunch-meat, I promise you will never be able to go back to the salty, processed, unnaturally shaped abomination in your grocer’s deli counter again. I also promise that after you use the leftovers to make your own stock, you’ll never buy that salty, watered-down abomination in a can off the shelf again either.
The Herbed Bird
A Jitterbean original
note: if fresh are not available, dried will suffice. Or try a dried herbs de provence blend