What would you talk about with the Barefoot Contessa, if you met her face to face? I’d like to share with you that Ina Garten came to town, my town Los Angeles, and we had lunch at Cafe Surfas and then together had our knives sharpened while discussing the finer points of sumac. But I can’t.
I had to meet the woman, who changed my life with an exotic little cooking technique we like to call roasting, on a book signing line at Williams Sonoma. Normally, not be the kind of event that suited me. I had gotten over that celebrity thing about the moment I landed at LAX when I realized that celebrities, like donut shops, are everywhere in LA. And if you get (have) to work with them, their needs always get to come first – shaa! Then there would be the certain humiliation of standing in that line – what if the school parents see me? “We don’t fawn over talent, we make a percentage on them,” they’d scowl.
But Ina is more than a stick of butter lady to me. She is another bond that I have with my mother-in-law, Nancy. And here’s where I’m going to make you all jealous because I have the best mother-in-law ever! Better than a stick of butter, better than a celebrity, better than a donut shop – the best.
When Ina writes a new book, I buy one copy for Nancy and one for me. It’s not that Ina offers some breakthrough in molecular gastronomy or incorporates ferocious ingredients like shavings from a chemputin gourd. Rather, her recipes are useful, they offer slight – but not uncomfortable – twists and they always work. She tests each recipe multiple times (do you hear that Silver Palate?) and then she further tests a recipe’s instruction quality with others. Confession: I made up chemputin gourd.
If I wasn’t going to have lunch with Ina, then I would just have to make an instant impression. Only then would she ask me to join her small circle of friends so I too could fret over my dinner assignments from Contessa and then get to eat her television food at her television party.
I rehearsed the conversation many times in my head. The opener – the Hamptons of course, followed by a riveting question that would not, and I repeat, would not address her relationship with Jeffrey. I would have to mention this blog and how it will save all the world from type 2 diabetes and she would ask if I would mind her linking to my site. Sure, but I can’t promise any link exchange. I would pull out a smart fall outfit, something as plaid as a tablecloth, and sassy oxford shoes right out of Meg’s You’ve Got Mail closet.
Who’s wondering when herbed turkey breast will be addressed?
It was only fitting that Nancy and I would attend Ina’s book signing together. The line on Montana Street, the only commercial street in LA without tourists, was two blocks long. I may have been dressed for a brisk fall outing in Montauk, but I was roasting and caramelizing in the black tights in Santa Monica. The handlers, both from Ina’s team and WS, kept the line moving with the operation of a glockenspiel and, within an hour of lively conversation, hot coffee samples, and reading the entire cookbook, we had made the turn into air conditioning. And then, as though the prison guards drugged us to forget the interrogation incident, it was over. What, huh wait? Three books were signed, photos were taken (I believe by a high school AV guy who was mumbling something about an ‘on’ button?), and we were handled right on out of there.
And so here are my memorable photos of Ina and me becoming best friends. Picture left is me, with lazy crazy eyes, telling the AV guy to get Nancy in the picture, clearly missing my one moment with Ina. Then Ina had moved on, her assistant still laughing at my audacity and not so Montauk blonde hair. Nancy’s bangs made it in the photo – see I told you she was wonderful.
How Easy Was That! We left without air kisses, without personalized autographs, and without exchanging phone numbers. Call me. What I left with instead, and likely the only real reason I went to the book signing, was to have a stolen moment with Nancy…and I got a few good recipes to boot.
Now, we can talk turkey. Your reward for making it to the end of this arduous post, is an easy herbed turkey recipe from Ina’s cookbook that I went through painstaking hell to bring to you. It was all worth it because this recipe, Barefoot tested (gross), is outstanding and soooooo easy, just like the title promises.
How easy is that? No brining, no basting, no trussing, no stressing. I was going to rely on my trusted 20 calorie a tablespoon, gluten free turkey gravy from WF, but the drippings were so abundant with this recipe, that I had to make the real stuff. Ina suggests just serving with the pan juices but I thickened using only 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (mixed in with a small amount of the drippings before adding it to the pan to thicken all of it).
This recipe is lower in calories without butter basting, lower in sodium and sugars without brining, and yet, it is succulent and moist, even as leftovers. BT dubs, as teenage daughter would say but sounds desperate coming from her mother…don’t just have turkey for thxgvg (texting now). It’s a good lean protein that holds up for days in the refrigerator. And, I suggest the gingered cranberries as a turkey topping instead of gravy, if you can stand it. Shaa!
herbed turkey breast & a brush with ina
1 whole turkey breast (6 1/2 – 7 lbs)
2 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 t dry mustard
1 T chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 T chopped fresh sage leaves
1 t fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 t salt, the good stuff people – kosher or sea salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
3/4 c white wine
Preheat oven to 325°.
Combine the all the seasonings in a small bowl.
Place the turkey, skin side up, in a roasting pan. Rub the mixture all over the skin and put about 1/4 of it under the skin.
Pour the wine in the bottom of the pan.
Roast the turkey for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. I roasted my 6.75 lb breast for 1 3/4 hours and it probably could have stayed in another 10-15 minutes. The skin should be golden brown and 165° in the thickest part of the meat. Check after about an hour and if the skin is getting to brown, put aluminum foil over the top loosely.
When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and cover it with foil. Let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.
recipe barely adapted from Ina Garten’s How Easy is That and provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com