Turkey is so about Thanksgiving house that I sometimes forget it's even available any other time of year. Because, if I were to remember, then I'd regularly make this fresh citrus and herb rubbed turkey that's not only super simple to make but also really healthy too.
divided plus more for seasoning
thinnly sliced, divided
halved and pitted
For the turkey: Heat oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Remove skin from turkey if it has not yet been removed (see note below for tips) then pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle half (2 teaspoons) of kosher salt all over two turkey breast halves.
Place garlic, orange zest, all but five springs of the thyme, half of the sage, and a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper on a cutting board and sprinkle remaining kosher 2 teaspoons of the salt on top. Chop until mixture is a rough paste (it should resemble cornmeal). Drizzle turkeys all over with 1 tablespoon of the oil, rub with the paste, and let sit at room temperature while the oven heats up, about 30 minutes.
Arrange turkey breast side up in a roasting pan fitted with a rack and pour broth in the bottom of the roasting pan. Toss onions and pears with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, season with a pinch kosher salt and pepper, and arrange in bottom of the roasting pan. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and roast until internal temperature of turkey reaches 140°F, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place honey and orange juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat as soon as it boils and set aside.
Remove foil, raise oven to 400°F and brush turkey liberally with the honey glaze. Roast until glaze is golden and turkey is 160°F to 165°F, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove turkey from roasting pan, sprinkle with remaining fresh thyme and sage, a pinch of kosher salt, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let turkey rest at least 10 minutes before carving. Reserve pears and onions for the gravy .
For the gravy: Place two pears (four pear halves) and all the onion from the turkey roasting pan in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until smooth, about 2 minutes then set aside.
Place the roasting pan (turkey should be out of roasting pan) over two burners over high heat. (Alternatively, pour all the roasting pan juices in a large frying pan.) Add celery and remaining herbs and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. When the pan juices begin to sizzle, slowly pour in half of the remaining broth and cook, scraping up any browned bits with a flat spatula. Pour juices into a medium saucepan, whisk in pear puree, remaining broth and flour, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
Taste the gravy; if it is exceptionally sweet, add the vinegar. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then strain through a fine mesh strainer. Push on the back of the strainer to remove all the liquid, discard the solids, and serve with the turkey.
Gravy can be made up to 4 days ahead of time. Just make it by roasting the pears and onions without the turkey and then use a really good quality turkey broth to give it good flavor!
Bone-in turkey breasts are less common (you may have to special order them online) than boneless but they are worth seeking out because they have a nicer presentation and the bone lends more flavor to the final dish and helps protect against overcooking the meat. They are usually sold with the skin on, so use a paper towel to pull of the skin and discard before roasting. If you can’t find bone-in turkey breasts, you can use boneless, skinless but look for one that doesn’t have added brine or water solution as they’ll be loaded with salt.
Photo by by Aida Mollenkamp // Food styling by Lillian Kang