Cajun Tradition and a Roasted Dirty Bird

I’m cajun. Not the pretend kind of cajun that claims the heritage becuase they spell words like “go” with an “-eaux”. I’m the real deal – born and raised on Bayou Lafourche. I spent most of my childhood hating the place, but now that I’m grown and gone, I’m very nostalgic about certain things. In the Cajun tradition, three things are very important family, faith and food. They’re all intertwined and revolve around each other.

One of the most important traditions is what is known as “Sunday dinner.”

Growing up in our family,  this is what Sunday dinner was all about…

Every Sunday, after church, everyone gathered at Maw Maw’s house for lunch .  When you arrived, you were typically greeted with smells of gumbo roux, roast, fried chicken and cake. An average Sunday dinner consisted of gumbo and rice, roast or beef stew, fried or baked chicken, potato salad and cake (this is why it’s called Sunday dinner, you eat a noon, and are full until the next day.) You had to fill your plate with one of everything, and it was offensive if you only served yourself once. After lunch was family time, in the fall and winter we watched football, in the spring and summer we played outside before slipping into a carbohydrate/blood sugar coma.

This tradition is still preserved in my family. Almost every Sunday we gather at my mom’s house after church, we have lunch (albeit, a much smaller version of what Maw Maw used to cook), spend the afternoon together, enjoy each others company, and occasionally slip off into a carbohydrate coma – Sunday is most definitely cheat meal day.

Occasionally, I get to host Sunday dinner, and when I do, I like to try to impress my family. This past Sunday, I was lucky to host my brother and his lovely girlfriend, and in honor of the New Orleans Saints season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, we ate roasted dirty bird (turkey breast).

Here’s my recipe:

Citrus Roasted Turkey Breast


1 turkey breast (thawed and sliced into cutlets). From a safety standpoint it is best to thaw turkey breast in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours.

1 naval orange (sliced)

1 lemon (sliced)

2 -4 tablespoons of coconut oil, butter or ghee (depending on the size of the breast)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons all purpose seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash, but use whatever your family likes – rosemary is also very good!)

1 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic

Let’s cook:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a roasting pan, place the slices of orange and lemon on the bottom of the pan.

After the turkey breast is thawed and sliced, placed the slice of turkey on top of the citrus slices (you don’t have to be perfect, just lay them on top).

Melt butter, ghee or coconut oil. After melted, add olive olive, seasonings, and garlic. Stir to mix well.

With a basting brush, brush the turkey cutlets with the seasoning mixture – reserve any leftover mixture.

Bake for 40 minutes. Remove pan from oven, flip cutlets over, baste with any dripping and leftover seasoning mixture, and place pan back in the oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove from oven. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature – which should be 165 degrees.

dirty bird

I’m really picky about turkey, because I often find it to be too dry for my liking. This turkey is not! It’s so yummy, and a great fall meal since citrus is in season.

We served the turkey with oven roasted veggies (brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots and onions – all fall veggies) and salad.

Unfortunately the Saints lost, but the bird was good!

For questions or comments, please email

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