Friday, December 31, 2010

ATK Roasted and brined turkey breast with crisp skin


1. Here's information on how to brine the turkey.

2. Be sure you have a roasting pan or a disposable pan available!

3. Be prepared to move items from the fridge to the super-cooler in order to put turkey, stuffing, etc. in fridge. Make ice!

4. In 2010, for a 4 lb. turkey breast (half of a breast, actually, with bone-in), we used about 1 gallon plus 2 cups of apple cider for the brine, mixed with just over 2 cups of kosher salt.

5. Cooking the turkey while other dishes are also cooking or staying warm (potatoes, stuffing, etc) will slow the cooking time quite a bit. In 2011, we needed an extra hour or so to cook a 4-lb turkey breast, and we had been cooking stuffing alongside the turkey.

6. Before 2011, the one time we butterflied a turkey and rested it over stuffing, it took 2-3 hours MORE to cook than what the recipe called for. In 2010, when we placed half a bone-in turkey breast on top of a roasting pan of stuffing, the top of the turkey breast (farthest from the stuffing) was done well before the bottom. We cooked it an additional 60-90 min and the whole thing turned out fine. The brining method seems to help prevent the turkey from drying out, even when cooking for an extended time.

7. In 2011, we again prepared half of a bone-in breast, but we cooked it unstuffed and on its own. It still took extra time! The temp was boosted by covering the whole pan with aluminum foil, along with turning the heat to 350 in the final 45 min or so.

8. To aid with the poultry flavoring of the stuffing, ATK recommends putting prepared turkey wings or chicken wings on top it before roasting the turkey breast. In 2011, Jeanne brined a pound or so of chicken wings after the turkey was removed, then she roasted them over a dripping pan in a 350 degree oven (she added about 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the dripping pan). She used the juices to make additional gravy.

9. For this recipe, Cook's Illustrated removes the wish bone (if it's a whole breast) and prepares the turkey for roasting. Photos are here. If working with only half a breast--no wishbone--you can skip the butter-with-pepper part and it still tastes amazing.

10. Before setting the oven rack in the middle position, be sure the turkey can *fit* in the oven with the rack at that position.

11. After the skin has crisped up, cover the entire pan with foil--shiny side down--to boost the ability to heat the bird.


1-1/2 cups kosher salt
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar**
1 fresh, whole, bone-in, skin-on turkey breast (6- to 8-pounds), rinsed and prepared according to illustrations 1 and 2 below
4 Tbl unsalted butter: 3 tablespoons at room temperature, 1 tablespoon melted
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock (optional)

**Skip the sugar if brining in apple cider.


1. Unless you use 1-1/2 gallons of apple cider, mix salt and sugar in 1-1/2 gallons cool water in large clean bucket or stockpot until completely dissolved. Set thawed turkey breast in brine, making sure it is submerged. Cover and refrigerate 5 hours. (In 2010, we brined half a turkey breast for 8 hrs and it was fine.)

2. Twenty minutes before roasting, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix room-temperature butter with pepper in small bowl. Set aside.

3. Remove turkey breast from brine, rinse with cool/cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Prepare breast for roasting by following Cook's Illustrated's photos.

4. Place turkey breast in oven, wide neck end toward oven rear. Pour 1/2 cup water or optional white wine or stock over pan bottom to prevent drippings from burning.

5. Roast 15 minutes, then rotate roasting pan. Roast until skin turns golden, 15 minutes longer.

6. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees;* continue to roast breast, rotating pan once, about halfway through cooking until internal temperature in deepest part of breast registers 160 to 165 degrees (depending on preference), 30 to 45 minutes longer.

*In 2011, we increased the oven temp to 350 because it was taking so long for the turkey to reach 160 degrees. TOTAL TIME: 30 min at 450; 1 hr at 325; 30 min at 350.

7. Remove turkey breast from oven. Let stand 20 minutes. Carve and serve.

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