I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine. Although I pretty much only bake from scratch, I don’t mind taking a bit of extra help when it comes to cooking – especially when experimentation is not going to be the best choice. You know, like during the holidays!
McCormick Turkey Gravy Mix is one of those little helpers I don’t mind turning to and keeping on hand. We are fans of cooking turkey throughout the year, so we’ve been known to enjoy a thanksgiving-ish meal most any time during the fall and winter and having the gravy mix easily on hand makes life just that much easier when we are running crazy with life’s usual crazy busy-ness!
I also have a hang-up with sauce and gravy making that I should admit to… the fact is, I can’t ever seem to remember to worry about making it or buying all the extra ingredients to make it from scratch and go to all that effort — pretty much until dinner is almost on the table. It’s like I have a brain block on that. I used to always just keep chicken stock around make it from that, but it just didn’t taste right. Aside from that, in order to make a stock, or a pan gravy or whatever, you generally have to be willing to purchase extra vegetables to literally be cooked down for their flavor and tossed, as well as purchase enough of a cut of meat to get the necessary flavor from anyway. There just aren’t enough of us to do that, especially when we all just want the white meat. Besides, when I buy vegetables, we are generally going to just eat them – not use them to cook down.
While this ramshackle, forgetful cooking is the norm on any given weeknight, the last thing I need to worry about messing up is the star saucey condiment on Thanksgiving. I found out about McCormick’s Turkey Gravy Mix a few years ago, and have loved using it ever since because it comes out perfectly silky, smooth and flavorful every time without having to worry about lumpy gravy– or the fact that I didn’t get all the extras to make a from-scratch pan gravy in the first place. I can also make only as much as we need at a time, and if we need more, that’s not hard to do either. No coagulated, old gravy or too much at a time.
(Picture courtesy of McCormick Spice)
It’s just an extra bonus that McCormick Turkey Gravy Mix is made with natural spices, no artificial flavors or colors, no MSG, and has 0 grams of trans fat. I can feel perfectly fine about that shortcut – and save my money and grocery budget for throwing at things like dessert.
It super easy to customize the gravy as well – if you want to add some extra herbs like sage or thyme, you can go for it. For that matter, if you are of the ‘creamy’ gravy ilk, you could easily add a dash of cream or half and half to the mixture when cooking and voila! It’s also great because you can just make what you need for the big day, then when you are ready for leftovers, mix up a fresh batch in minutes. Or, you can even use it if you make a turkey pot pie or some turkey noodle soup – whatever you choose to do with that leftover turkey, you can use McCormick’s Turkey Gravy mix on the fly. No fuss, no muss, no extra mess.
So, bottom line. I buy the gravy mix because I’ll rarely remember to buy enough extra ingredients and cook a whole bird to make a pan gravy that always tastes weak to me anyway. We usually buy a turkey breast if there is just a few of us getting together for the holiday and it just doesn’t really have enough oomph to make a great gravy. Aside from that fact, I would have to mess up multiple pans just to make said gravy since I don’t have a roasting pan. On top of all that, I think gravy is best when it’s pretty much freshly prepared and the last thing hot and ready. Which, if you do it from the pan juices, vegetables, etc. is just another layer of work on an already busy day.
The other thing I love about making a turkey breast (or a couple of them if you have a bigger crowd) is how much easier it is to brine a turkey breast. And I do love brining! It brings so much flavor to the party and keeps that breast meat so moist and tender! And seriously, brining is one of those things that sounds complicated… until you find out there is absolutely nothing complicated about it. It’s a bit of science, which is fun when put in the kitchen, and you have so much room to play around with what you like.
This year I decided that brining the turkey breast in a honey and Herbes de Provence blend of spices was the way to go. It’s a favorite way of mine to roast a chicken as well and makes such a nice, golden skin with just a little olive oil on the outside. So easy, with such stellar results. No dry meat. Not a ton of ingredients. Plus, working with a turkey breast or two is faster and easier than worrying about a whole bird. Especially when most people are after that succulent slice of breast meat anyway.
Round out the meal with a few favorite sides – which in my family is always dressing, buttery corn, homemade mashed potatoes and, of course, gravy to slather the bulk of it with and you’re good to go!
McCormick has been kind enough to offer the following gift as a giveaway to my readers which includes all the things you need to serve your gravy, and pretty up your holiday season!
A $75 prize pack including a Le Creuset Gravy Boat, a Le Creuset Condiment Ladle and a $50 Crate & Barrel Gift Card!
If you want to know more about all the ways that McCormick can help you and your family celebrate and feast this holiday season, join in the fun on tomorrow night’s GNO with Mom It Forward! There will be chances to win even more prizes, as always, fun conversation and lots of great ideas! Just visit the GNO page HERE for more information. I’ll be attending as a panelist and would love to ‘see’ you there!
(Picture by me!)
Honey Brined Roasted Turkey Breast
1 4-5 lb turkey breast, bone in, skin on, and rinsed in cool water
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
2 qts hot water
2 cups ice cubes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chicken or turkey stock, or water
In a large pot or container (at least 5 qts) whisk together the hot water with the honey, salt, peppercorns and Herbes de Provence. Once the salt and honey are melted, stir in the ice cubes to cool the mixture down before adding the turkey breast. Submerge the turkey breast in the brine, cover tightly and keep in the refrigerator for 12-18 hours. I usually do this the night before, then the turkey is ready to come out of the brine in the morning.
To roast, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the turkey breast from the brine, rinse it well on all sides with cool water and pat it dry with paper towels. Place it in a roasting pan or baking dish. Rub the olive oil over the skin and add the water or stock to the bottom of the pan. Cover the turkey breast with foil. Place the turkey breast into the oven and bake for one hour, covered. Remove the foil and baste the turkey breast with the juices that have collected in the bottom of the pan and bake the turkey, basting every 15 minutes, for another hour until it is 165 degrees (cooked through) and the skin is golden. All that brine you soaked the breast in will allow you to crisp the skin this way and get a nice golden color without drying out the meat. Once the turkey breast is cooked through, remove it from the oven, cover with the foil again and let it rest 10 minutes in the pan before slicing. Serve hot. Makes enough for 4-6 people.
NOTE: If you want to do this for more people, just do the same process with the brine in a separate container for each breast. It is easier to do a smaller container for each one and find room in the refrigerator, than to use a huge container with multiple birds that you can’t fit in the refrigerator. If you have a large enough roasting pan though they can be roasted together in the same pan (or big roaster!) without affecting the times and temperatures.
Disclaimer: I am part of the Mom It Forward blogger network. Mom It Forward and McCormick partnered in support of this campaign. McCormick compensated me for participation in this campaign. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.