So I know that in the whole scheme of Thanksgiving planning, it’s wonderful and ideal and rockstar-ish to pull out the big guns and roast the most beautiful, impressive, golden wonder of a bird like the world has never seen. I get it. I’m totally bowled over by gorgeous, golden turkeys, I am. And every year it seems someone has a new, better way to produce The Juiciest Turkey with The Crispiest Skin with The Best Gravy.
But you know what? There is brilliant wisdom in simplifying sometimes and this slow cooker turkey breast – while it won’t produce the crispy golden skin and wow-that-whole-bird-is-pretty effect – is out of this world juicy, delicious and so ridiculously simple, I swear, it will leave you twiddling your thumbs on Thanksgiving. Ok, maybe not that, but close, especially since the cooking method basically produces instant gravy at the end of the process.
Instead of a full turkey, a bone-in turkey breast slow cooks in a simple medley of vegetables and braising liquid and as is wont to happen in most slow cooker applications, the low and slow cooking method results in an incredibly juice, flavorful turkey. After a few minutes of stovetop simmering, you’ll also have a mighty tasty gravy to slather over that turkey.
Taking Thanksgiving out of the picture, this is a fabulous, easy meal for a Sunday dinner (which is how we enjoyed it) that can be made any time of the year, and the turkey leftovers are fabulous. As turkey leftovers always are, in my opinion.
If you are looking to simplify Thanksgiving, this recipe totally has your back. It is definitely some of the finest tasting turkey I’ve ever enjoyed and as a self-professed turkey lover who has eaten a lot, a lot of turkey, I’m kind of an expert in this area.
The one thing to keep a very, very close eye on is the salt content of this recipe. If you can't find no-salt added chicken broth and use low-sodium, take care not to oversalt the turkey breast because the gravy will be too salty. I used low-sodium chicken broth and only used about 1 teaspoon salt over the entire turkey breast and it was probably on the verge of being too salty. Keep in mind that you can always add salt at the end but it's hard to take away if you've oversalted at the beginning. Got it? Great. Also, you definitely need a large, oval slow cooker for this recipe. Even still, I had to scrap using the lid and cover the turkey and slow cooker with a few layers of foil. Worked perfectly.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups no-salt added or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tablespoon dried
- 2 bay leaves
- 6-8 pound bone-in skin-on turkey breast
- Salt and pepper
- In a large, nonstick skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are lightly browned.
- Stir in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes until the flour coating the veggies turns golden. Whisk in 1 cup of the broth, working to smooth out any lumps as it cooks and thickens. Stir in the remaining broth and water. Add the thyme and bay leaves.
- Pour the mixture into the slow cooker. Season the turkey breast all over with salt and pepper (see the note above about how much salt to use). Place the turkey in the slow cooker (breast side down). Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours until the internal temperature of the turkey breast reaches 165 degrees.
- Carefully transfer the turkey breast to a cutting board (or 9X13-inch pan to catch any juices), tent with foil and let rest while preparing the gravy.
- Strain the liquid in the slow cooker into a saucepan. Let it settle for 5 minutes or so and then skim the fat from the surface. Bring the gravy to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often, until it is slightly thickened. It won't be as thick as traditional gravy but will be silky and slightly thick. If you'd like it thicker, simply whisk together a slurry of cornstarch and cold water (a tablespoon or so of cornstarch in a couple tablespoons of water) and stir the slurry into the gravy, simmering for 2-3 minutes.
- Season the gravy with any additional salt and pepper, if needed.
- Carve the turkey and serve with the warm gravy.
Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe referred to me by a long-time reader, Rebecca L., from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution (thanks, Rebecca!)