While my family always celebrates Turkey Day with a traditional dinner, with all the pomp and circumstances leading up to the moment when the oven-roasted and well-rested turkey gets carved and served, there are many folks, both novice and experienced cooks, (single men and women, young couples, elderly couples, etc.) who neither need nor want, or, don't have the time for an entire turkey. There are other folks, for whatever the reason, simply want to eat some turkey for the sake of the day and move on. That's why I'm talking about turkey tenderloins.
While we're all familiar with whole, bone-in turkey and whole bone-in turkey breast or breast halves, we're not all as familiar with turkey breast tenderloins. Weighing anywhere from 8-ounces to 1-pound each, these 7 1/2"-8" long, plump pieces of turkey are the tenderest part of the turkey. I love them, and use them occasionally, because, quite frankly, an entire turkey or a turkey breast all-to-often yields more turkey than needed, or takes more time to cook than I've got. There's more. Trust me, a roasted turkey tenderloin sliced and served with mashed potatoes, gravy, a green vegetable and cranberry sauce is as wonderful as any oven-roasted whole turkey dinner.
That said, unlike its cute cousin the chicken tender, turkey tenderloin, because of its larger size, is not quite as versatile. When it comes to cooking turkey tenderloins, any method that works for a bone-in or boneless chicken breast half can be adapted to work for a turkey tenderloin. My two favorite methods of preparing it are oven-roasting or stovetop poaching, but, it's worth mention I've had excellent results marinating it or applying a dry rub to it to grill it outdoors too.
Poaching vs. Roasting = Low Moist Heat vs. High Dry Heat.
Poaching = 30-40 minutes. Roasting = 1-1 1/4 hours.
Loosely defined for modern times, roasting implies food items, like meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables that "stand on their own", meaning, they have an independent structure prior to being roasted -- unlike baking, they are not dependent on a vessel to attain their shape during the cooking process. Like baking (a casserole for example), roasting can be done, covered or uncovered or a combination of both, but unlike baking, roasted foods are placed on a rack so they do not cook or stew in their own juices. Typically, the desired end roasting result is a brown crust, which requires fat, either provided naturally by the item being roasted, or, applied by hand. In the case of roasting turkey tenderloins, open roasting to attain browning is not ideal in that they emerge dried out -- they do not have the body mass to support a moist end result no matter how much fat one apples. Please trust me on this point, or, do your own experiment at your own risk.
Place 2, large 3/4-1 pound turkey tenderloins on a rack in a small (disposable aluminum) roasting pan to which 2 cups chicken stock, 1/2 cup diced yellow onion, 1/2 cup diced carrot, 1/2 cup diced celery, and, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary sprigs (or 2 thyme sprigs or bay leaves depending on what you're making/serving with tenderloins) have been added.
Special Equipment List: 3" x 9" x 4" disposable aluminum roasting pan; cooling rack; cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; pastry brush; aluminum foil; plastic wrap
Cook's Note: Looking for an all-purpose gravy that goes well on almost anything? I've got one. One basic recipe, made with a few pantry staples, and, in a few minutes: a great gravy that carnivores and vegetarians can sit down to enjoy, together. Got pan drippings? Just add them to my ~ Vegetarian Herb Gravy for Whatever Floats the Boat ~ along with the stock. Like a chameleon adjusts its color to blend in, this gravy graciously accepts any carnivorous flavor you've got to add.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)