Brined Roast Turkey Breast

If you think of turkey breasts as dry meat that needs gobs of gravy, you probably wouldn't think of roasting a whole breast.  But after trying a slew of different brines, I've finally found a mixture that actually makes the meat moist; plus, it gives it fabulous flavor.  A rolled breast with no bones is also a no brainer to carve and very low in fat. Hopefully I've convinced you to try it.

To begin, you need to purchase a whole boned and rolled turkey breast with the skin that weighs between 4 to 6 pounds. I bought the one for my class from Whole Foods. 

The marinade recipe comes from chef extraordinaire, Jan Birnbaum. Year's ago I ate the best turkey breast I'd ever tasted at one of his restaurants and he was kind enough to give me the recipe. I came across it in an old file and decided to give it a try, after being frustrated with so many other attempts that didn't add enough moisture or flavor. .

You'll want to make the marinade in a large pot.  Bring it to a boil and cool it completely before using. Put the turkey into a large stock pot or a 3 gallon zipper bag. If using a zipper bag, line a large pot with the bag, add the turkey and then slowly pour in the cool marinade. You will need to add weight to keep the turkey submerged.  Refrigerate a 4 pound breast for 8 hours and a larger one for 10. 

If you like a crispy skin, you can leave the roast uncovered in a roasting pan in the fridge overnight.  Although it does give the roast a more golden sheen and the skin becomes crisper, it is completely optional. 

At my class I served the roast with a tangy Warm Port, Cranberry, Orange Sauce that beautifully balances the flavors in the turkey.  Look up the cranberry sauce recipe.   

Brined Roast Turkey Breast

1 boned rolled turkey breast with skin (4 to 5 lbs.)

Brine
½ gallon (8 cups) water
½ cup white vinegar
1½ cups kosher salt
1½ cups golden brown sugar
1 small onion, cut into eighths
2 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1 bay leaf, crumbled½
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed

Roast
1 cup chicken stock or white wine
1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter

To brine: Bring all brine ingredients to a boil. Remove from heat and cool completely. 

Place roast in large plastic bag or large saucepan and pour marinade over. It must cover the roast completely.  Seal securely or cover and refrigerate for 8 to 10 hours.

  1. Remove from marinade and pat dry.

  2. To roast: Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place the turkey in a roasting pan that it will fit in comfortably. If it is too big, the drippings will burn. Pour stock or wine into bottom of pan. Brush turkey with melted butter. Roast for 20 minutes per pound. (About 80 minutes for 4 lbs.) If the turkey gets too brown, cover loosely with foil. The turkey is done when it reaches 160°F.

  3. Remove to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Let rest 20 minutes. Cut off strings and carve the turkey into 1/3-inch thick slices.

Serves 8 to 10.

 Here I am carving with an electric knife the turkey breast I roasted in a class for Foster City Village. Carving was so easy it was actually fun.   

Here I am carving with an electric knife the turkey breast I roasted in a class for Foster City Village. Carving was so easy it was actually fun.   

 During the class we forgot to get a close up picture of the whole turkey when it came out of the oven, but we did get some with it sliced. It is shown here with  Cornbread Stuffing Muffins  from the class. 

During the class we forgot to get a close up picture of the whole turkey when it came out of the oven, but we did get some with it sliced. It is shown here with Cornbread Stuffing Muffins from the class. 

 Turkey Breast with Warm Port, Cranberry, Orange Sauce  cranberry sauce recipe . and  Cornbread Stuffing Muffins

Turkey Breast with Warm Port, Cranberry, Orange Sauce cranberry sauce recipe. and Cornbread Stuffing Muffins

 
 This is a whole turkey breast boned and rolled weighing 6 pounds.  Whole Foods rolled and tied it for me at no extra charge. . 

This is a whole turkey breast boned and rolled weighing 6 pounds.  Whole Foods rolled and tied it for me at no extra charge. . 

 Here is the roast in a bag filled with the marinade. The turkey floats to the top. 

Here is the roast in a bag filled with the marinade. The turkey floats to the top. 

 A large can on the top keeps the turkey under the marinade so it is completely submerged.   

A large can on the top keeps the turkey under the marinade so it is completely submerged.   

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