I had to choose Katherine. For the cookbook giveaway, I had to choose Katherine because anyone who wants to give her German chemistry teacher her last piece of crumb cake, and invite him over for a chat, is someone who deserves a cookbook. I also just like the idea of inviting one's former teacher over to shoot the breeze. I'd probably invite Mrs. Bierbauer, because even though she was a math teacher and not a chem teacher, she was incredibly nice to me in 9th grade.
You know what I'd say to her? I'd say, "Mrs. Bierbauer, thanks for being so nice to me in 9th grade. I really appreciate the extra time you took explaining byzantine mathematical errata and making me feel smart. Unfortunately, when I got to college, I pretty much forgot everything you taught me. More crumb cake?"
And then we'd eat more cake and talk about non-mathy things.
The other reason I had to choose Katherine is this: so many of your entries were beautifully melancholic, and tenderly heartfelt, but although this is exactly what I'd asked for, they ended up canceling each other out. How on earth could I choose between a dying grandparent, a dying father, an already dead parent, and a friend hit by a truck? Impossible. Therefore, Katherine and her chemistry teacher win.
Today's recipe is a completely practical one: a simple roasted turkey breast perfect for dinner this week. If you're traveling, you can toss the leftovers in the freezer. If you've got family visiting, they'll have sandwich meat for the week. And if your chemistry teacher rings the bell and you've eaten all the crumb cake, offer him some poultry.
Now balance this equation: C2H6 + O2 --> CO2 + H2O.
Recipe for Simple Roasted Turkey Breast
Roasting a turkey breast is so much easier than manhandling an entire bird. Just before serving, you can even make a quick gravy by deglazing the roasting pan with a little white wine and stock, and whisking in a paste of flour and soft butter to thicken. Squeeze in some lemon, and voila. Dinner.
Serves 6, with plenty of leftovers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon regular or smoked paprika
3 garlic gloves, minced
One 5-pound bone-in turkey breast
Onions and potatoes, if desired
1 scant cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth (more if you're making gravy)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the lower third position.
In a small bowl, mash the butter, paprika, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of salt until smooth.
Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat as dry as humanly possible with paper towels. Slip your fingers under the skin of one turkey breast, and massage some of the seasoned butter underneath. Repeat with the other breast. Rub the remaining butter all over the rest of the exposed turkey skin, and sprinkle generously with additional salt and some pepper. Set skin-side up on a v-rack set in a roasting pan. If desired, quarter a few onions and potatoes, drizzle with a thin stream of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Scatter in the bottom of the roasting pan.
Roast the turkey for 45 minutes. Baste with 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and turn the roasting pan 180 degrees. Roast 45 to 55 minutes longer, or until the meat is juicy but cooked through and the skin is crispy and deep brown, basting with a little additional stock two or three more times. Remove to a cutting board and let rest at least 20 minutes before carving. (If making gravy, see the head note, and make it while the bird rests.)
To carve, hold a sharp, heavy knife at a 45-degree angle and remove one entire breast in a single piece. Slice the meat crosswise. Repeat with the remaining breast. Freeze the carcass for stock.