Brining a turkey has long been on my bucket list, and what better way to ring in the New Year and all its resolutions than by tackling something I've always wanted to try?
Okay, so I actually made this on Christmas Eve. Anyway, I haven't yet tried brining a turkey -- or even eating a brined turkey -- because there really hasn't been much of an opportunity for it. We've only hosted the holidays a few times. We typically need drippings for gravy. You don't want to try it and accidentally screw up the sole main course.
This is a Betty Crocker recipe, and I decided to try with a turkey breast. It's a good introduction to brining because it fits in the fridge and is just easier to handle. Plus, my dad was already planning to bring a ham, so there wasn't a lot at stake. If the turkey was awful, we surely wouldn't starve.
One problem I had was finding a turkey breast that wasn't packed in some sort of salt solution. We don't have access to a lot of fresh turkeys in these parts, so I ended up going with the salt-soaked variety. That made the outside pieces of the meat a bit saltier than I'm used to, but not terribly so. Overall, the turkey was incredibly juicy and was infused with great flavor, even if the skin didn't brown and crisp as much as I'd have preferred.
I wasn't positive if the end result was worth the extra effort, but my mother said it was amazing. She even took home leftovers. And Mom knows best.
Brined Turkey Breast
Makes 8-12 servings
9 cups hot water, plus more to cover turkey breast, if needed
3/4 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 4- to 6-pound bone-in turkey breast, thawed, if frozen
1 onion, cut in eight wedges
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 dried bay leaves
Salt and pepper
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup dry white wine
1. The day before, mix water, salt, and sugar in a large container or stockpot. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add turkey. Cover and refrigerate 12-24 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
3. Remove turkey from brine. Rinse it thoroughly and pat it dry before placing in roasting pan.
4. Fill cavity with onion, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf. If necessary, tie some string around it to keep everything together.
5. Place turkey breast side up and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6. Combine butter and wine. Soak a 16" square piece of cheesecloth in the butter mixture and drape over the turkey.
7. Bake 90 minutes.
8. Remove cheesecloth from turkey. Remove onion and herbs, but leave them in the pan. Bake 30-60 minutes longer, or until a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees F in the thickest part of the turkey.
9. Let rest before carving.