Roasted Turkey Breast with Pears and roasted sweet potatoes

I’m always looking for new ways to cook chicken and turkey. A couple months ago, I blogged a recipe for pork loin with a pear gravy. It came out so good I wondered how pear would go with turkey. Turns out placing sliced pears (or you could use apples) under the skin of the turkey breast keeps it moist while it’s roasting (just be sure not to over cook it!). And yes, I made gravy and added some cooked pears to it, oh so delicious!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To feed four:

4-5 pound bone-in turkey breast

Clean thoroughly, removing any feathers or pin feathers left behind along the outside of the skin. Push your fingers under the skin and break the membrane holding the skin to the meat. Prepare a baking dish large enough to hold the turkey along with 2 cups of diced sweet potato. Spray the dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place the turkey in the dish, skin side up.

Wash, peel, core and slice:

1 medium, not too ripe pear making sure all the slices are about the same thickness

Place the pear slices, overlapping slightly between the skin and the meat of the turkey breast. When the pears are in place, , salt and pepper the pears. Using small skewers, pin the skin to the meat to hold the pears in place. Salt and pepper the skin (I also used some garlic powder along with some sage).

Peel and dice up (large pieces) 2 medium sweet potatoes and place around the breast, spray the sweet potatoes with a non-stick cooking spray (or before you add them, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to them and stir to coat). Salt and pepper the potatoes. (My mother always used white potatoes.)

Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees for about an hour to 75 minutes or until the breast measures 155 degrees when a thermometer is inserted in the thickest part. (It should be cooked to 160 degrees but it will continue cooking after you take it out of the oven.)

Remove the pins and the skin. Cover loosely with a large pan or, if no alternative is available, aluminum foil (should be a last resort!). Let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with the pear slices.

If gravy is desired in a 4 cup saucepan heat:

1 cup turkey (or chicken) stock

1 medium ripe pear, peeled cored and mashed

Bring to a boil. While it’s heating whisk together:

1/2 cup turkey (or chicken stock)

2 tablespoons all purpose gluten-free flour

When the stock is boiling, whisk in the flour slurry and keep whisking until the mixture thickens, turning it down to medium heat after adding the slurry. Simmer for about 5 minutes to cook the flour and serve. If you have lumps of flour or large chunks of pear, feel free to run the gravy through a medium sieve to remove them before serving.

Smothered Pork Chops

One of my favorite things my mother used to make was smothered pork chops. She’d dump a can of cream of mushroom soup on top of pork chops in a baking dish and then sprinkle that with a package of dry French onion soup mix. Bake it and voila – moist and tender pork chops with a great gravy already made. Well, those days are past and I can no longer have the French onion soup mix or canned cream of mushroom soup. But as many of you who have followed me for awhile know, cream of mushroom soup is one of the easiest soups to make (see the recipe under Soups and Salads). For this smothered pork chop recipe, I used a variety of mushrooms in the soup recipe and it really enhanced the flavor of the pork chops. I always have at least one 2 cup bowl of this soup in my freezer ready for use in recipes like this.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a baking dish to hold the pork chops and mushroom soup. For 2 servings:

2 thick cut pork chops (at least 1 inch thick) – if thinner chops are used, cook only 20-25 minutes

Heat in a 10″ skillet, 1 tablespoon olive oil and sear the chops on all sides (including the skinny ones!). I cut slashes in the fat side to allow the fat to render out. Place the chops in the baking dish and cover with:

2 cups of cream of mushroom soup

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the pork reaches 145 degrees. My mother always served these with mashed potatoes but I prefer brown rice. Mashed sweet potatoes would also work or any type of noodle.

Braised Pork Loin with Figs and Pears

This recipe takes some time since the pork loin is marinated but worth the effort and wait. The gravy is lick the plate good! Now I’m thinking I should add fruit puree to all my gravies. Yum, yum. Braising cooks food slowly so be sure that the loin is well seared (browned) before cooking so that it doesn’t lose all its juices. And since I love figs and pears, and I know they go well together, I thought how about braising them with the loin. This recipe would also work with a turkey breast or apples instead of pears.

At least 4 hours before the cooking starts, put in a gallon food storage bag:

1/4 cup seasoned vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt (or herbamare)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried thyme

6-8 dried figs

Add:

1 1/2-2 1/2 pound pork loin

Seal and let sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours. If you are using a chicken, duck, or turkey breast, you can put this directly into the cooking vessel – either a roasting/baking dish with a cover, or the bowl of a slow cooker.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees if the loin is going in the oven. I cooked mine on the stove top in a medium size Dutch oven. Remove the pork loin (or turkey breast) from the marinade. Dry thoroughly and rub with:

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground cumin

In a 10″ skillet or one large enough to hold the loin, heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Turn the oil down to medium heat and add the loin (or turkey breast). Sear (brown) on all sides. Remove the meat and add to the skillet:

1 medium onion chopped

1/2 bag of baby carrots, cut into bite size pieces

1 large or 2 small (I used one small sweet and one small white) potatoes

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes. Add:

figs from the marinade (or 6-8 other fresh or dried figs)

Add the meat back into the cooking vessel along with:

1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock

Cover the pot or dish and cook over low heat (simmer) until the meat reaches 145 degrees for pork or 165-170 for poultry. On the stovetop in the Dutch oven, my just under 2 pound pork loin took just over an hour. When the meat is cooked, remove the meat and vegetables and add to the stock:

1 diced medium pear (peeled or not doesn’t matter)

If the meat was cooked in the oven, pour the stock into a small saucepot before adding the pear. Turn up the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the pear is soft. Add:

A slurry made with 1/2 cup turkey or chicken stock whisked with 2 tablespoons all purpose gluten free flour

Stir until the gravy thickens and the pear pieces are integrated into the gravy, this should only take a couple of minutes. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes so that the flour cooks completely. Slice the pork loin (or other meat) and place on a platter surrounded by the vegetables and figs. Pour some of the gravy over the pork and serve.

Shepherd’s Pie (dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

One of my mother’s old standby’s, shepherd’s pie is a definite comfort food for many New Englanders.  Warm and filling, it gives us energy and the calories we need to go out and shovel the snow or rack the leaves (which is what I spent some time doing this morning).  Here’s my take on it, feel free to use any ground meat you like, I’m limited since I’m allergic to most red meats.  Traditionally, its made with mutton or lamb but I use turkey or chicken in mine.  Serves 4.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  You’ll need:

  • 1 pound ground meat, lean
  • 10 ounce bag of mixed peas and carrots (organic if possible)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • Seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, garlic powder – about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of each)
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free flour such as brown rice or all purpose
  • 1 1/2 cups of stock (whatever you have on hand works; I used vegetable in mine)
  • 2 cups mashed potato (or as in my case, celery root and parsnip mash see recipe under side dishes)
  • 2 quart baking dish

In a steamer, steam the peas and carrots until just tender.  Put them in the baking dish.  In a skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onions and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes until tender.  Add ground meat and seasonings.  Stir as the meat cooks to crumble the meat up into small chunks.  When meat is cooked, add the flour and stir to incorporate.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes and add the stock.  Stir and cook until thickened, another 2-3 minutes.  Add to the baking dish; stir into the vegetables.  Spread the potatoes or celery root/parsnip mash on the top and bake for 20-30 minutes until heated through and bubbling.

Chicken and Dumplings (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

Another thing we always did with leftovers was make a stew and then either serve it with dumplings or put it in a pie crust and make a meat pie with it.    And you could easily do it with a rotisserie chicken or turkey breast from the store.  And you can adjust the vegetables to your taste, i.e., add some cooked diced turnip, parsnips or some lima beans, etc.

In an 8-quart dutch oven mix:

  • 2 cups diced chicken
  • 1 cup cooked peas
  • 1 cup cooked green beans
  • 1/2 cup cooked diced onion
  • 1/2 cup cooked diced celery
  • 1/2 cup cooked diced carrots
  • 1 cup cooked diced sweet potato

Add stock until the pot is 2/3 full; this should take 3-4 cups and needs to cover the meat and vegetable mixture.  Mix up your dumplings in your food processor:

  • 1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper

Pulse in:

  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine OR 1/4 cup avocado oil

Once there are pea sized crumbs, add in 3/4 to 1 cup of non-dairy milk depending on if you used the margarine or the oil (I use rice milk but soy would work as well; you want a milk that doesn’t have a strong aftertaste).  Pulse until well mixed and the batter is smooth.  If your like your dumplings more flavorful, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of an herb mixture OR 1/4 cup fresh parsley to the sifted dry ingredients.

Drop by tablespoons into your boiling stew.  Cook uncovered for 10 minutes and then cover and cook an additional 10 minutes or until dumplings look dry on top.  Makes about 12 smaller dumplings or 6 large dumplings (the larger ones will take longer to cook so I usually make them smaller for ease of cooking and my husband usually eats 2-3 of them.

Remove the dumplings into a dish and keep warm in the oven while you thicken the stock.  Mix 1/4 cup of brown rice flour into 1/2 cup of cold stock until its smooth without any lumps.  Add to the boiling stew, stirring constantly until the gravy thickens.  If its too thin, make another slurry of brown rice flour and cold stock (a tablespoon at a time) until it reaches the desired thickness.  Be sure the gravy boils before you add more flour slurry since it will thicken more as it boils.  And be sure to stir scraping the bottom of the pot so that the gravy doesn’t burn on the bottom (also reduce the heat; you don’t want to do this on a high heat).

Return the dumplings to the pot and serve.  Makes 6-8 servings.

Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie (Dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

One of my husband’s favorite dishes is a pot pie.  This one has lots of tender chicken or turkey for my husband along with plenty of vegetables to satisfy me.  If you pre-bake the bottom crust, it won’t get as soggy from the gravy while baking.  Feel free to change up the vegetables — lima beans, mushrooms, garlic, etc. can be added along with greens like kale or spinach (chopped of course).  I had some leftover mushrooms that I sautéed, cut up and added to my stew.  Some diced sweet potatoes would also do well in a stew or any diced and cooked winter squash.

First make some chicken or turkey stew:

  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas
  • 1/2 cup cooked string beans
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup cooked chicken or turkey diced
  • 3 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • Herbs, salt and pepper to your taste

Cook the onions and celery in a little oil under tender, about 3 minutes.  Add 2 1/2 cups of the stock and herbs.  Whisk the brown rice flour into the other 1/2 cup of stock and add it to the stockpot and whisk until the mixture thickens.  Add the cooked meat and vegetables and cool in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the pot pie or whatever you want to do with the stew (you could also use this for chicken and dumplings or a chicken casserole with a cauliflower crust).

If you don’t cool the stew before adding it to the pot pie, the bottom crust will get too soggy, even if you pre-baked it.

You can either make your own gluten-free crust (see my recipe for pie crust), use a mix (Bob’s Red Mill makes a very tasty mix) or purchase a ready-made gluten-free crust.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.  Pre-bake your crust per package directions.  When cool, add the cooled stew to fill the pie crust.  Add top layer and bake approximately 40 minutes until pie bubbles and top crust is browned.

Leftovers Casserole (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

This is a great casserole for using up leftovers after a big meal like Thanksgiving or just a family Sunday dinner.  It takes the meat, gravy, stuffing, vegetables, and potatoes and puts them together into one dish that’s easy and my family loves it.  You’ll want a deep casserole dish so that you can get four layers. You could also make this quick and easy using rotisserie chicken or turkey breast.

Grease a 9″ round, 5-7″ deep casserole dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

The first layer consists of:

  • 2 cups of diced meat (chicken, beef, turkey, pork)
  • 2 cups  gravy (see recipe under Sauces)

The second layer consists of:

  • 2-3 cups of stuffing (see recipe under side dishes)

The third layer consists of:

  • 2-3 cups of leftover vegetables (I used my leftover string bean casserole; see recipe under side dishes)

The last layer consists of:

  • 2-3 cups of mashed potatoes, or in my case, mashed celery root and parsnips (see recipe under side dishes)

Bake 30-45 minutes until the gravy starts bubbling to the top and the top is browned.