I know everyone has moved away from holiday cooking but I wanted to make a post about this technique for making the most super moist turkey breast for next year’s holiday cooking bonanza. I have spent many years trying to figure out a way to make a turkey breast in the oven without drying it out. I find it takes a surprisingly long time to cook because of the bones but because it is not THAT big a piece of meat, by the time it is cooked through it ends up being very dry.
My friend Wayne told me about his friend Barry C. Parsons’ brining technique which I divided in half since I was not cooking a whole turkey. Wayne then also recommended I cook it in a cast iron Dutch oven covered to keep the moisture inside. Genius! I took all the intel and came up with this approach. I hope you find it just as delicious as we did this Christmas.
Making The Turkey Breast Brine
For this recipe you will need 2 quarts of water (more to cover), 1/4 cup kosher salt (I only had sea salt), 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tbsp honey, 4 whole cloves, 1/2 large sliced onion , 2 cloves garlic sliced thin, zest and juice of 1 large orange, 1 1/2 tbsp whole black peppercorns, oil for browning…
1 (6 lb) bone-in turkey breast, 2 tbsp room temperature butter, freshly ground black pepper, 2 tsp dried sage, vegetable oil, 2 large onions cut into chunks (I was running out so I used a shallot), 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, 3 cups chicken broth, 2 chopped carrots and 1 chopped celery stick.
In a large pot warm everything together and bring to a slight simmer until the sugar and the salt have dissolved.
Strain into a large bowl and cool to room temperature.
Wash the turkey breast well and completely submerge in the brine. Place in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap overnight or for at least 6 – 8 hours.
Roasting The Turkey Breast
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove turkey breast from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Do not rinse.
Rub the turkey breast inside and out with the butter. Generously sprinkle with pepper (no salt because of the brine) and sage.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the turkey, breast side down and cook until the skin is dark golden brown on all sides, 7-10 minutes.
Using tongs, lift out the turkey breast and set aside. I went a little too high with the heat but no big deal, we do not usually eat the skin. If you do, make sure it is just medium high heat.
Scatter the onion and rosemary on the bottom of the pan.
Return the turkey, breast side up, to the pan.
Pour 3/4 cup of the broth into the pan.
Cover and cook for 1 hour.
Add carrots and celery. Cover and bake for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours until cooked through (160 degrees).
Glorious!!! I mean look at that! I removed the turkey breast and let it rest. I strained the juices and made a gravy with it.
This was one of the best pieces of turkey breast I have ever had.
And that homemade mushroom gravy made with the drippings?! Outstanding!
So there you go. From now on I will be making my turkey breast this way. Brining helped get all that flavour and moisture in there and cooking it in a Dutch oven prevented it from drying out. Brilliant!
Finally, the perfect turkey breast. That only took OMG so many, MANY years… Thank you Wayne and Barry!
Debra She Who Seeks says
I love your photo of the cloves, peppercorns, orange, garlic etc. Actually all your photos are good for this post — makes me want to eat turkey again, a mere two weeks after Christmas!
Suzie the Foodie says
Wow, that means so much to me, thank you Debra!!! Makes me feel like I did a good job and I know, now that I know just how good it can be I want to make it more often. And it isn’t hard at all, just takes time. No problem…
What a great job adapting the recipe Suzie. Your Color turned out as good as mine did with my full bird.
Genius (as usual) !!!!
Suzie the Foodie says
Thanks Wayne, you helped a lot and so glad your full turkey turned out fabulous as well!
When I want a recipe I don’t need all the pretty pictures. I don’t want the labor pains just give me the baby.