“Make Ahead Turkey Dinner” – Recipes No. 4 & 5 – Roasted Turkey Breast (or Whole Turkey) with White Wine, Oranges and Apples & Savory Turkey Gravy

‘Roasted Turkey Breast (or Turkey) with White Wine, Oranges and Apples & Savory Turkey Gravy’ are the 4th and 5th in a series of 6 ‘make ahead’ recipes, all of which can be prepared – or prepped – a day or two ahead, which will help to make your busy life a bit easier!  By preparing a few dishes each night for two nights, all you’ll need to do the day of The Big Feast is roast the turkey, make the gravy and cook the green beans.

I chose to roast the turkey breast ‘ahead of time’ (earlier in the day) simply because I needed to take photos… and that’s very hard to do when hungry guests are waiting to eat. I invited several people over to ‘taste test’ the food for me and, for once, my kitchen wasn’t a disaster area. And I actually had time to visit with my friends before the meal.

I was so pleased to see how much everyone enjoyed my new recipes. It seems that everyone had their favorites and many commented how moist the turkey was although I had roasted it several hours before! Serving this meal was so easy.

Two nights before I prepared the ‘Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and a Dash of Bourbon’ and the ‘Herb Stuffing with Baby Bella Mushrooms’.

One night before I prepared the ‘Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives’ and prepped the green beans for my ‘Green Beans with Sesame Seeds’.

I have a small refrigerator in my cellar, so I was able to place all the ‘made-ahead’ dishes there.  You can always use a large cooler or two – just be sure to keep the temperature good and cold.

Make Ahead Turkey Dinner - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Everything was very casual the night of the ‘taste testing’.

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

My Yellow Farmhouse.com - Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner


  • Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives


  • Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and a Dash of Bourbon


  • Herb Stuffing with Baby Bella Mushrooms, Celery and Onions


  • Green Beans with Browned Butter and Sesame Seeds


  • Turkey Breast (or Turkey) with White Wine, Oranges  & + Savory Turkey Gravy
  • Bonus Recipe – Homemade Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce with Apple and a Hint of Cinnamon


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The first time I ever roasted a turkey we lived in Villanova, PA and my boys were in high school.  Previously we’d eaten two Thanksgiving dinners each year; one with husband’s family and one at my parent’s home.  (Lucky me…. I got to wash dishes twice…)  That year we decided to stay home and we invited some of our friends to share Thanksgiving with us.  In fact, our dear friend from Pakistan was staying with us for the weekend. Just picture this… he, who didn’t cook or usually even eat turkey, and I standing in the kitchen in our pjs in the early morning… reading the turkey label for instructions.  It was then I learned that roasting a turkey is no harder than roasting a chicken… turkey just needs a bit more time in the oven!!


Roasted Turkey with White Wine, Apples and Oranges - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

  • turkey breast or whole turkey, thawed if  frozen  – –  liver etc. removed from inside
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 orange, peel and pith removed – quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, skin removed – quartered
  • 1 apple, quartered
  • 1 Tbs. paprika
  • 2 tsp. Garlic Salt with Herbs
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  •  1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/3 – 3/4 cup water

+ + Begin roasting turkey in a 400F oven.  After 20 minutes, lower heat to 350F ++

Rinse turkey breast (or turkey) with cool water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place on a rack in a low sided roasting pan.  ++ If you don’t have a rack, crunch up some aluminum foil into balls and place the turkey breast on those.

Place some of the apple in the rear cavity.  Place the rest of the apple, plus the orange and onion, into the breast cavity.  Carefully separate the breast skin from the meat using your fingers to form a ‘pocket’.

Allow turkey to air dry 5 – 10 minutes, which helps the oil cling to the skin better.

Rub turkey skin with 1 Tbs. olive oil.  In a small bowl mix 1 Tbs. paprika, 2 tsp. Garlic Salt with Herbs, 1 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Rub inside of turkey breast with about 2 tsp. of the spice mixture, rub about 2 tsp. under the skin and use the rest to rub on the skin.  Try to cover the entire turkey breast (turkey) with spice rub.  ++ If you feel you need a bit more spice rub, just mix up a little paprika and thyme.  Don’t add any more salt or your gravy will be too salty.

Turkey Breast (or Turkey) with White Wine, Oranges and Apples - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Pour 1/2 cup white wine and  1/3 – 3/4 cup water into the pan.  ++ All the delicious juices and flavors are going to go into the Savory Turkey Gravy – yummy!

++ Place roasting pan on the lower rack of your oven.

++ Start roasting turkey in a 400F oven.  After 20 minutes, lower heat to 350F.

Follow directions on turkey wrapper for roasting times.  Most store-bought turkey breasts or turkeys have those ‘pop-up thingies’ which tell you when the turkey is fully cooked, which is pretty darn helpful.  (I have noticed, though, for the most part, the turkey ends up being fully cooked before the estimated time.)

  • For turkey breast, meat thermometer should read 165F in the thickest part of the breast.
  • For whole turkey, meat thermometer should read 175F in the thickest part of the leg.
  • ++ TIP  Baste the turkey a few times towards the end of the cooking time. This gives the skin a nice sheen!

Once the turkey is fully cooked place it on a platter and cover VERY LOOSELY with foil. Allow turkey to ‘rest’ for about 30 minutes while you make your gravy etc.. ++ Allowing meat to ‘rest’ makes the meat juicer. Plus it’s often easier to carve – which means … no shredded turkey.

If you’ve prepared my make-ahead “Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives”, “Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and a Dash of Bourbon” or “Herb Stuffing with Baby Bella Mushrooms” place those in the oven to reheat at 360F. Keep the mashed potatoes and the stuffing covered – but uncover the sweet potatoes.  Reheat for about 45 minutes – or until each dish is fully heated.     ++ If you chose, all three recipes mentioned above can be reheated in the microwave.


Savory Gravy…. it’s Easy-Peasey!

Just like Prego spaghetti sauce – all the spices you need are ‘in there’ from the turkey juices.

Turkey Gravy Flavored with Apples, Oranges & Red Onion - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

  • 4 cups chicken stock – divided into 3 cup & 1 cup portions
  • 5 Tbs. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Gravy Master – or another type of ‘browning liquid’

Add 3 cups chicken stock to roasting pan. Scrape ‘bits’ from the bottom of the pan.  Pour into a large skillet and begin warming on medium-high heat.

In a small measuring cup, mix 1 cup chicken stock with 5 Tbs. flour, making sure there’s no lumps.  Pour stock/flour mixture slowly into the stock in the skillet, mixing with a whisk as you pour.  You’re less likely to have lumps if stock isn’t too hot yet.  Add 1/2 tsp. Gravy Master browning liquid, although it’s not really necessary.  It’s just that I like a nice rich colored gravy!

Bring to a boil.  Lower heat a bit and continue at a ‘high simmer’ until gravy thickens.  ++ If you’d like your gravy a bit thicker, mix about 1/4 cup water with 1 Tbs. of flour and whisk it into your gravy a little at a time.  ++ I poured my finished gravy through a sieve to remove the ‘bits’.  If you don’t have a sieve… no worries.


Using a sharp knife, remove skin from both sides of turkey breast.  Set skin aside. Beginning on the outside of the breast, slice meat into uniformly thick slices.  Place meat into casserole and cover with turkey skin.  Pour any juices over the meat, cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate.

About 30 minutes before reheating, place covered casserole on counter to allow it to warm up a bit.

Reheat – COVERED – at 360F for about 40 minutes. ++ As I mentioned at the top of this post, the turkey breast was very moist and very tender, even though it had been prepared earlier in the day.

Turkey Gravey Flavored with Apples, Oranges and Red Onions - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

– – – – – – – – –

I wanted to share these two wonderful recipes. (You can add them to your ‘Make Ahead File’.)  You know, sometimes it’s as if food bloggers read each others minds. I’d been thinking recently, “Wouldn’t it be great to find a new type of green bean casserole and a new way to make cranberry sauce – and Carolyn and Mike came through!!

The first recipe is from J.J. Begonia. Carolyn calls her recipe ‘Stovetop Green Bean Casserole – Served 3 Ways’.  She told me, “You can definitely prepare the gravy (sauce) ahead of time, refrigerate it and reheat in a pan.  Then just add the beans and cook through ~ done in under 10 minutes!”

Green Bean Casserole - Made 3 Ways - J J Begonia - Nov 2014

Green Bean Casserole – Three Ways – – ‘J.J. Begonia’


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An excellent recipe for cranberry sauce was recently posted by Mike of ‘Rufus’ Food and Spirit Guide’.  Greg says, “Here’s a flavorful cranberry sauce that calls for just a few ingredients. If you don’t have a tangerine, substitute the zest from half an orange.”

Gingered Cranberry Sauce - from Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - post Nov 2014Gingered Cranberry Sauce – – ‘Rufus’ Food and Spirit Guide’


Happy Holidays to All  – Enjoy !

Make Ahead Turkey Dinner - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Roasted Turkey … or Chicken …’In a Hurry’ !

++   A 10 lb. turkey – COOKED ‘IN A HURRY’! – takes approximately 1 1/2 hours to 1 3/4 hours.    ++   A 10 lb. turkey – cooked in the usual way – takes approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
++ I cut out the breastbone of the bird.  A spatchcocked fowl has the backbone removed.

– – –

I recently visited a local ‘meat outlet’ where I purchased a 10 pound frozen turkey.  I immediately thought DINNER PARTY!  As the old adage goes (from a poem by Robert Burns) The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men often go awry and my dinner party idea just didn’t work out.  Instead, at the last minute, I ended up preparing the turkey at one of my friend’s homes.  It was the day after a ‘Women’s Night Out’ and I’m surprised we had the energy, but between the two of us we put together a delicious turkey dinner in about two hours!!

Here’s the secret to cooking a 10 pound turkey so quickly – you simply cut out the breast bone and lay the turkey or chicken down flat!!  I used to do this all the time with whole chickens when we lived at our farm in Quebec and often fed masses of people, including neighbors, friends, family and visitors!!

++ To estimate how long it will take to roast a turkey or chicken this way, calculate how long it would usually take, then plan on cooking your bird a bit more than half the time … or so.   ++ Be sure to use a meat thermometer to ascertain exactly when the turkey/chicken is fully cooked.

                                   How to Roast a Turkey – or a Chicken – “In a Hurry” !

Preheat oven to 425F     ++ You will be lowering heat to 350F after 20 minutes.

  • If you bought a frozen turkey/chicken – it must be thoroughly defrosted.  Be be sure, just stick your hand inside….
  • Lay the bird – breast side up – on a large cutting board.  Using a sharp knife, cut the flesh and skin from the breastbone on both sides. Pull the breastbone forward, then cut the breastbone from the rest of the body     ++ Look for the place where the breastbone is attached to the body… there’s a joint there, so it’s easier to cut.    ++ Leave breast meat attached to the rest of the body.

++ A wooden cutting board is probably best as the bird won’t slip as easily.  Just be sure to wash it well after and include a drop of bleach in the water you’re washing it in.

  • Rub turkey/chicken skin with some olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme etc. – whatever you feel like sprinkling the meat with such as Montreal Steak Seasonings or Chili Powder.

Ready to go !!  Roasted Turkey, or Chicken, in a Hurry ... My Yellow Farmhouse.com

  • Place prepared turkey/chicken on a rack set in a low-sided pan.

++ I highly recommend a rack like the one shown which has handles for lifting the finished bird out of the oven.  They’re easy to find and aren’t expensive.  In fact, I just checked at Bed, Bath & Beyond and you can get one for under $10.00!

++ If you don’t happen to have a rack, crunch aluminum foil into a coil  & place turkey/chicken on top. Or (and this gives more flavor) place large pieces of cut up onion, apple or orange (with the skin) under the open part of the turkey/chicken.

  • Place the pan on middle rack of oven set at 425 F.
  • Set timer for for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, lower heat to 350F
  • Continue to roast bird until thermometer placed in the thickest part of the leg (close to where the thigh meets the body) reaches 180°F.   ++ The temperature is usually 170°F – but I recommend 180°F for this method.

• Lift bird onto platter, and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

++ For gravy, you can simmer the breastbone, along with the neck and heart, in some salted water to which some chopped onion has been added.  Use this simmered liquid, instead of water, when you make your gravy. For a really easy gravy, I use two packets Durkee’s Turkey Gravy prepared with some of the simmered liquid, drippings from the pan and, if you have it, a bit of red wine.   Enjoy !  

Roasted Turkey, or Chicken,  In a Hurry.. My Yellow Farmhouse.com