Spiced Turkey Breast with Persian Golden Prunes

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 40 min
  • Active: 1 hr 10 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
Roasted in a rich sauce made from tomatoes, barberries and Persian golden prunes, this spiced turkey breast is bursting with flavor in every bite. It makes a delicious addition to a Thanksgiving spread and is ideal for a smaller crowd at the table. Golden prunes are slightly sour and are commonly paired with poultry and lamb in Persian cuisine. Here they lend a welcome brightness to the sweet-tart sauce. They are typically served with the pits intact so be sure to let your guests know before they dig in.



  1. Pat dry the turkey breast. Gently separate the skin from the meat using your fingers. Set the turkey breast aside.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, coriander, ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon each of the cumin, paprika and turmeric in a small bowl. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spoon this mixture all over the turkey breast, then spread under the skin with your fingers (you may want to wear gloves).  
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Place the turkey breast skin-side down in the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high. Sear the turkey breast without disturbing until the skin is almost crispy and golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, flip the turkey breast and sear the other side until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the turkey breast to a plate and set it aside.  
  4. Reduce the heat to medium. If the skillet seems dry, add about 1 tablespoon more vegetable oil. Add the garlic and onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, remaining 1/2 teaspoon each cumin, paprika and turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant and darkened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add 2 cups water, the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods to the sauce, then reduce the heat to medium-low and bring the sauce to a low simmer. 
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a small pan over medium-low heat and saute the prunes until they’re shiny and glazed on all sides, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the prunes to a bowl and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the same small pan. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the barberries and saute until they’re shiny and glazed, about 4 minutes.  
  6. Add the prunes, barberries and 1/4 cup of water to the tomato sauce in the large skillet and stir to combine, making sure the prunes are fully submerged in the sauce. Return the turkey to the skillet and roast in the oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone) reads 165 degrees F, 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. Let the turkey sit for 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute before slicing and serving with the sauce, over rice if desired. 

Cook’s Note

Searing the prunes on the stovetop helps them keep their shape so they don't fall apart while roasting in the oven. These prunes contain pits so be careful when eating.