Method: Brined Turkey Breast

Delicious, tender, moist gluten-free turkey

Delicious, tender, moist gluten-free turkey

Here at Ye Olde Gluten Free Blogge, the holidays are always killer.  We’re busier than ever and have less and less time to get more and more things accomplished.  Now that they are over, I’m posting some of my better finds/creations.  I hope you enjoy! 🙂

For the most moist turkey you’ve ever had in your life, a brine is necessary.  On Good Eats, Alton Brown discusses what a brine actually does: when the salt in the brine starts to permiate the turkey in order to balance osmotic pressure, it takes other stuff in with it, like liquid and flavor.  Here’s how I do it.

Ingredients (Part 1):
1 turkey breast, bone-in (7-10 lbs)
1 lb. table salt
1 lb. brown sugar
water (a whole lot!)

Directions (Part 1):
1)  After thawing your turkey breast (or buying fresh), remove the bags from the cavity and toss them in the trash can.

2)  In bowl, bucket or sink large enough to submerge turkey breast, put salt and sugar.  Fill about 1/2 way with cool water and stir until salt and sugar are mostly dissolved.  Put in turkey, meat down (or however it will fit best, but be sure the meat is submerged) and fill the rest of the way with water.  Try very, very hard to cover the breast.  However, if it can’t be done, be sure that the meat part is submerged.  The side with the cavity is mostly skin and nasty, so it’s not the end of the world if it sticks out a bit.

This is my turkey breast, meat submerged.

This is my raw turkey, meat submerged.

3)  Allow to brine about 6 hours.  Much longer and you risk the cold water getting too warm.  It will be plenty long, I promise.  If you have a cat who has a bad habit of trying to steal meat twice his size, be sure to put a heavy pot lid on top or be prepared to watch your brine!!!!


If your cat is eyeing your turkey, you may be in trouble!!! Safely on his favorite perch, Gaius is trying to figure out how to wrestle this turkey breast from the sink...

Ingredients (Part 2):
1 or 2 onions, cut into wedges
2-4 apples, mixed varieties, cut into wedges
3-4 tangerines, wedged and skin-on
3-5 ribs of celery, trimmed to fit in and around turkey
peppercorns, to taste
granulated garlic, to taste
fresh rosemary, to taste
fresh thyme, to taste
1 cup warm water
high smoke point oil (corn, canola, peanut, etc… whatever you’d use for deep frying)

Directions (Part 2):
1)  Remove turkey breast from brine, turn cavity down and allow to drain, 5-10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2)  Pour 1 cup warm water into a 12-inch cast iron skillet (please use cast iron, you’ll thank me later).  Place turkey breast cavity up (meat down) in the skillet.  Stuff about half of your veggies, fruits and seasonings into the cavity (do the best you can).  Layer the rest around the turkey in the skillet.  It really will all fit.  Rub all your exposed breast parts with your oil.  Poke an oven-safe thermometer into the center of the deepest part of your turkey, taking care not to touch the bone (it will throw off your reading).  Tent with foil to prevent burning (not shown) and slide into oven.

Here's my turkey breast, dressed up for it's date with the oven.

Here's my turkey breast, dressed up for it's date with the oven.

3)  When thermometer hits about 150 degrees F, remove turkey breast from oven.  Allow to rest for at least a half hour (carry-over will continue to cook the breast for a little bit and make sure it gets to a safe 160 degrees F).


I like to double-check my thermometer to be sure that my turkey is safe.

4)  After turkey breast has rested, remove to a large cutting board (preferably over the sink to contain the mess) and carve.  I always pull off the skin and toss it into a LARGE stock pot and do the same with any meat I don’t like the looks of and, of course, the carcass.


Carcass in a stock pot.

5)  Put about a cup of water into the stock pot, clamp a lid on and let it simmer for 2-4 hours or until the bones are thin and break easily.  Strain out the bones and skin and things, let cool and store in freezer for delicious turkey stock.

6)  While you’re doing the stock, you might as well take that cast iron skillet full of turkey juice and goodies and put it over medium heat.  Simmer it down until the veggies and fruits practically turn to mush.  Strain them out and put the juice back on the stove.  Salt if needed and thicken with a little corn starch or flour.  This makes excellent turkey gravy!!!!!!


Turkey gravy fodder.


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