My tender and succulent poached turkey breast makes an easy Thanksgiving dinner and takes less than an hour from prep to finish. This post is sponsored by Calphalon. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Beyond Sweet and Savory possible.
Thanksgiving dinner this year will be a lot different for everyone including my family. We will miss the company of our extended family and friends but will celebrate regardless. The dinner menu will be abbreviated, but just as delicious. I’ve partnered with Calphalon to bring you the most delicious and easy Thanksgiving spread from the turkey to the winning side dishes.
Unlike previous years, we won’t be roasting a whole turkey. With a family of four adults and two kids, it’s more manageable for us to go with turkey breast. I’m so excited to share my lemon thyme poached turkey breast recipe with you. What I love about this recipe is that it takes less than 60 minutes to throw together and you get the most succulent and flavorful turkey breast.
Turkey: from all the years that I’ve made turkey, I’ve always bought fresh turkey. Fresh turkey will have a slightly better flavor, texture and holds moisture better than frozen ones. You can poach a 3 pound breast or 2 smaller pieces, about 1.5 pounds each.
Aromatics: for this recipe, I used thyme, lemon, and garlic as my aromatics. You can substitute with rosemary, sage, or use a combination of all three.
My lemon thyme poached turkey breast recipe requires two steps, browning the turkey and poaching it. Browning creates a tremendous amount of flavors that will add to the final dish. Season the turkey with salt and pepper on both sides before browning on both sides for about 4-5 minutes until golden. My Calphalon Premier™ Hard-Anodized Nonstick saute pan was perfect for the job. It’s made with hard-anodized aluminum for even heat distribution and delivers a longer-lasting, superior nonstick performance—40% longer than Calphalon Classic—for effortless food release and easy cleaning. Once the turkey is browned, remove the liquid from browning and save it for the gravy.
How to poach turkey
Poaching is a method of cooking the turkey while it’s submerged in a liquid at low temperature. That liquid could be oil, milk, juice, wine, or seasoned water but I used chicken stock for my recipe. I used about 6 cups of chicken stock for the poaching liquid. For the aromatics, I added a handful of thyme, lemon slices, and crushed garlic cloves to the chicken stock. All of these will season the turkey as it poaches, making it more flavorful to eat.
Bring the water to a gentle boil, add the turkey breast, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, and poach for 25-30 minutes until the turkey is cooked through. Once the turkey registers an internal temperature of 165° on the instant thermometer, remove it from the liquid. Always check sooner than later if you're unsure—you can always cook them longer. Let the turkey breast rest while you prepare the gravy. The gradual, gentle heat from poaching results in the most tender, succulent, perfectly cooked piece of turkey breast you’ll ever eat.
How to make the gravy
The deeply browned and rich scrapings from the bottom of the browning pan might not look like much but it makes the most delicious gravy. The plain, old-fashioned gravy takes about ten minutes and requires only a pan and a whisk. This makes for a deeply flavorful gravy that enhances everything on the plate with a touch of savory goodness.
Start with the drippings, add extra butter, and whisk in flour to make a roux. Let it cook for a few minutes until bubbling. Add in 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of chicken broth. You can add more broth for a thinner gravy or let the gravy cook a few minutes for a thicker gravy. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and any herbs if desired.
What side dishes to serve the turkey with
When we have a large party, I usually end up cooking six sides. This year, I halved the side dishes and made harissa roasted carrots, bacon roasted brussels sprouts, and honey roasted kabocha squash. What’s really nice about not roasting a big bird this year is freeing up my oven for the side dishes and desserts.
For the brussels sprouts, I browned the bacon and brussels sprouts on the stove in my Calphalon Premier™ Hard-Anodized Nonstick fry pan. Once they’re browned, the whole pan goes in the oven to finish cooking and crisp up. I love how the Calphalon Premier™ pan can go from stovetop to oven up to 450 degrees F.
The harissa roasted carrots were seasoned with a mixture of harissa, honey, and olive oil. They were roasted in my Calphalon Premier™ Countertop Safe Bakeware pan along with the brussel sprouts. While the side dishes were roasting, I made a simple cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries, blood orange juice, sugar, cinnamon, and star anise. In my book, turkey and cranberry sauce go hand and hand just like the gravy!
I don’t think both my stove and oven have seen so much action in a long time. This usually happens twice a year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m so glad I have my trusty Calphalon Premier™ Cookware and Bakeware to make everything from the main dish to sides and desserts for the perfect Thanksgiving dinner and easy clean-up.
While my Thanksgiving menu this year is abbreviated, it’s filled with so much good food from the main to side dishes and desserts. My tender and succulent poached turkey has a great supporting cast of harissa roasted carrot, bacon roasted brussel sprouts, honeyed kabocha squash, a flavorful classic gravy, and a lip puckering cranberry sauce. My heart is filled with so much joy and gratitude to be able to share this meal with my family after a tumultuous year. We wish you and your loved ones a delicious Thanksgiving!
For more Thanksgiving inspiration, check these recipes: za'atar roasted romanesco steak, honey roasted hasselback butternut squash, roasted carrot and cashew soup, Jerusalem artichoke soup, pear and radicchio salad,
Lemon thyme poached turkey breast
Poached turkey breast
- 1 3-pound turkey breast or 2 1.5-pound turkey breasts
- ½ tablespoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 tbsps unsalted butter
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 10 sprigs of thyme
- 1 small Meyer lemon, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsps unsalted butter
- 2 tbsps all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup chicken stock
- salt and freshly ground pepper
Spiced orange cranberry sauce
- 8 ounces fresh cranberries
- Juice and zest of 1 blood orange
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
Poached turkey breast
- Season the turkey with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the turkey breast to the pan, skin-side down. Cook the turkey for 4-5 minutes each side or until golden. Remove the turkey breast. Save the dripping for the gravy.
- Add the chicken stock, thyme, lemon slices and bring to a simmer. Add the turkey breast, skin faced up. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid and poach for 25-30 minutes or until the turkey is cooked through.
- Once the turkey registers an internal temperature of 165° on the instant thermometer, remove them from the liquid.
- When ready to serve, slice the turkey breast and transfer the slices to a serving platter.
- Add the saved dripping and butter in a large saucepan over high heat until bubbling.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes or until golden.
- Gradually pour in the chicken stock and milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, for a further 5 minutes or until the gravy has thickened.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spiced orange cranberry sauce
- Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and sauce thickens, about 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Discard the cinnamon stick and star anise before serving.