Timing your turkey can be the most nerve-racking part of your holiday dinner, so stress less and make it 100 percent ahead! Brining the breast makes it extra moist and flavorful. Roast and freeze it, then simply thaw, slice and reheat with an herbed butter. Keep the wishbone and use it to hope for something really fun (you’ve got the relaxed dinner thing covered).
Special equipment: An extra-large pot, a roasting pan and rack, a meat thermometerCook’s NoteYou can eat the turkey breast right away instead of freezing it. After roasting, let it rest for at least 20 minutes, then remove the breast from the bone and slice. Melt the reserved frozen butter, and drizzle it over the turkey.
Bring 1 quart water, 3/4 cup salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves and lemon zest to a boil in an extra-large pot (large enough to hold the turkey breast). Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, and add 4 quarts water. Let cool to room temperature.
Add the turkey breast to the pot (use a plate to help submerge it if needed), cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.
Remove the turkey breast from the pot, and discard the brine. Blot the breast dry all over with paper towels.
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350ºF. Pulse the butter, parsley, sage, thyme, paprika and cayenne in a food processor to combine. Rub half the herbed butter under and over the skin of the turkey breast; roll the rest into a log, and freeze. Place the breast on a rack set in a roasting pan, and roast, rotating as needed to ensure even browning, until the deepest part of the breast registers an internal temperature of 165ºF, 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours.
Let the turkey breast cool completely. Wrap it well with plastic wrap and foil, label and date, and freeze, deep in the freezer, for up to 2 weeks.
Two days before you plan to serve it, put the turkey breast in a baking dish and transfer it to the refrigerator to thaw.
To serve, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the breast from the bone, and slice. Shingle the slices onto a large baking dish, pour in the stock and dot the turkey with slices of the frozen herbed butter. Wrap the dish tightly with foil, and reheat in the oven until the turkey is hot and the butter is melted, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a platter, and drizzle with some of the pan liquid.