As any savy foodie knows, you check your grocery store’s ad before you go to the grocery store. That way you can plan your weekly meals around what is available and on sale. It helps keep you relatively in season, save money, and get variety in your diet. A couple of weeks ago King Soopers had a sale on turkey breast on the bone. It comes in the plastic mesh like a full turkey, but it doesn’t have the wings, giblets, or legs. I guess it is the result of all of our fair turkey legs. Anyway, it was $1.99/lb, and if you can get any meat for that much it’s a good deal. I debated with myself how to prepare it, Roast like a chicken in the oven, crock pot, how to season. Oh the agony. I finally decided to to the crock pot. As all of us frustrated Thanksgiving chefs can tell you, turkey can get very dry in the oven. The crock pot is always the best solution to that problem.
I learned a ton about turkeys from Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It is a fantastic book, it is what inspired me to start to garden and to be conscious about where my food comes from. I cannot highly recommend it enough. I read thorough it again every spring when I am chomping at the bit to have things growing again. Anyway, she lives on a large plot of land in the Appalachians. There she has a huge garden/small farm and raises many of their food animals, including turkeys. When she decided to raise turkeys she wanted a self sustaining flock–one that would breed on their own so that she didn’t have to buy new chicks every year. When she started to research, she found that 90% of the turkeys in the US are the large white turkey that make butterballs. They have been so harshly bred that they do not know how to run, fly, or have sex. That is right, they don’t know how to reproduce themselves. Have any of the rest of you ever seen the Dirty Jobs episode where Mike Rowe gets semen from the male turkeys and inseminates the females? It’s true. There are legends that the turkeys are so stupid that if they look up in the rain they will drown. Barbara Kingsolver did not want that. She got Bourbon Reds, a breed native to Tennessee, and managed to breed a self sustaining flock.
How did the bird so smart and noble as to get a vote for national bird from Benjamin Franklin get to this point? Turkeys are a new world bird, a totally new creature to the Europeans. At one point there were many distinct species of turkey, some fossils go back to as old as 23 million years. There are still wild turkeys around. I almost crashed my car once in Raton, New Mexico, when I saw a flock down in a creek bed off the highway. There are some in North America and a separate species that lives on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. My father hunts turkeys, and they are so smart that they are devilishly hard to catch (which is much of the fun). They have very good eyesight and will spook at the smallest movement. The hunters have to be very well camouflaged and in a blind to avoid detection. But if you get the chance to see a wild male turkey in full strut you are a fortunate person. The display will make you revere the beauty of nature.
The Aztecs are credited with the domesticating the turkey first. The bird is called a turkey because the Europeans thought they looked like guinea fowl. At that time they were referred to as turkeys because guinea fowl came to Europe through the country Turkey. (And here I was thinking that the country was named after the bird as a comment on the people of the nation). In fact, the turkey is not related to the guinea fowl, but it still makes for an interesting name. The turkey was being farmed in England by 1573, when an author noted that turkeys were common at farmer’s Christmas feasts. Turkey is now an enormously popular food bird around the world.
This recipe is super flexible. Use any seasonings you want and smear them on. I just looked in the cabinet and picked what looked good.
Crock Pot Roast Turkey Breast
- Bone in turkey breast. Mine was about 7 lbs and just barely fit in the crock pot.
- 1 C broth
- 1 Tbsp (or more) minced garlic
- 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp curry powder
- 1/2-1 tsp salt
- Pepper to taste
- 1/8 tsp corriander
- 1/2 tsp roasted paprika (I just got a little jar of Spanish Roast Paprika from Penzeys and it is AMAZING! It’s like paprika flavored wood smoke).
- Apples or craisins or onions or veggies or whatever you want.
- You can mix up the seasonings however you want. If you like, you can do all the dry seasonings together, and do the garlic and ginger separate. This would work well because the garlic and ginger are wet and attract all the spices to stick. I thought it worked fine putting it all in together.