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Turkey Breast Ideas

avak123's picture

Does anyone have a T & T turkey breast recipe. I picked up a 5 lb. breast and want to do something "healthy" with it.  All of the South Beach discussions have inspired me to cut back on the fat, calories, and sugar for a few weeks!

Thought of brining or smoking...



Gretchen's picture

(post #33028, reply #1 of 45)

Will you eat/use it all up if you fix it whole?  I often get the butcher to cut one in half and cook them at different times/ways.

I use turkey breast for "chicken" salad if I need to make a lot. But simmering it to cook the meat and then using in different chopped dishes is one way to use a half.

Otherwise, I just roast, after liberally salting and peppering.  No brine here.

avak123's picture

(post #33028, reply #2 of 45)

I can always roast it, I was just in search of trying something new. Anything to alleviate diet boredom!

Great suggestion to divide it.


unbaked's picture

(post #33028, reply #3 of 45)

I use Meanie's maple brine and then cook it on the rotisserie on the BBQ. I did it for New Year's Dinner a couple of years ago and my father, who despises the white meat of any fowl, took 3 helpings. It made the most wonderful sandwiches.


I suppose Mole Poblano wouldn't be on South Beach.

'The desire to make an effort to improve the lives of those around you does not yet live in everyone, but it does live in everyone who cooks.' -Bill Penzey, one magazine

'The desire to make an effort to improve the lives of those around you does not yet live in everyone, but it does live in everyone who cooks.' -Bill Penzey, one magazine

avak123's picture

(post #33028, reply #4 of 45)

How long did you brine it for? That sounds yummy.

I am also thinking about injecting it, then using a rub and smoking it.

I wonder how brining and smoking would work together? I know brining and grilling works beautifully, but have never brined and smoked. I have a new smoker that I love playing with.

Anyone ever tried brining and smoking - together?

Wolvie's picture

(post #33028, reply #5 of 45)

I use various rubs, either mine or purchased, to change up tb. I ususally roti it as well. Easier to do that with boneless breasts, but it can be done with bone in.

this is a recipe I tried awhile back and everyone enjoyed:


I used a skin on boneless breast, around 3 pounds, IIRC, and the roti. Made the sauce from turkey stock , drippings from the pan under the roti, and added the necessary seasonings.


"The neo-Darwinists are just like the very religious,"  "They spend all their time defending silly doctrine."

James Lovelock


avak123's picture

(post #33028, reply #9 of 45)

Sounds yummy! Will give it a try. I am always looking for a way to use up my chiles.



transona5's picture

(post #33028, reply #14 of 45)

When I would brine a whole bone-in turkey breast I left it in for 8 hours. Always came out perfectly. And the leftovers were TDF.



unbaked's picture

(post #33028, reply #21 of 45)

Excellent question that I would answer if I could remember.

I'm going to say that I brined it no more than 12 hours. I'd think that with just a bone in breast, even 8 hours should do it. I haven't read along to see if Meanie has answered yet as to the correct amount of time, but I'm pretty sure I did it the night before and then let it air dry in the fridge for a few hours the day I cooked it.


'The desire to make an effort to improve the lives of those around you does not yet live in everyone, but it does live in everyone who cooks.' -Bill Penzey, one magazine

'The desire to make an effort to improve the lives of those around you does not yet live in everyone, but it does live in everyone who cooks.' -Bill Penzey, one magazine

marie-louise's picture

(post #33028, reply #6 of 45)

I have tried lots of ways but I prefer to roast it plain & then dress it up when I use it. I love to grill whole (butterflied) turkeys on the grill, but find that a breast gets too smokey. And I do not like what brining does to the texture.

I like to use it in sandwiches and salads. I have also been known to make Turkey Tetrazzini; despite what cafeterias have done to it over the years, it can be quite good! (I'm guessing it is not on the South Beach diet, though.)

courgette's picture

(post #33028, reply #7 of 45)

I used to make an awesome tettrazzini years ago. Thanks for the reminder. I wonder if we will still like.

Sometimes when I go back to old recipes that we liked they just aren't what we like anymore.


Gretchen's picture

(post #33028, reply #8 of 45)

Ah, ML, I KNEW it would be good that you would come back and reinforce those few of us here that don't like to brine!!  Welcome, welcome!!  ;o)


macy's picture

(post #33028, reply #17 of 45)

"And I do not like what brining does to the texture."

Thank you, thank you! I thought I was the only one.

Gretchen's picture

(post #33028, reply #18 of 45)

Oh, no. We are now up to four, I think. You two, Wolvie and me.


macy's picture

(post #33028, reply #19 of 45)

It's good to know there are others :-)

Heather's picture

(post #33028, reply #23 of 45)

>>Oh, no. We are now up to four, I think. You two, Wolvie and me.<<<

And me--that makes 5.

Fledge's picture

(post #33028, reply #42 of 45)

oh... 6!

"Let it be, let be....whisper words of wisdom, let it be."

The Beatles

You don't scare me

I have an African Grey

dixie's picture

(post #33028, reply #26 of 45)

Make it five. I only tried brining once, and none of us liked it as much as plain roasted turkey. It was also a pain to find a container large enough that would fit in fridge to hold the turkey in all that brine. Just not worth the trouble.

marie-louise's picture

(post #33028, reply #27 of 45)

Actually, Dixie, you make six! More, if we include my friends who don't frequent this board, LOL.

I think it all depends on whether or not you care for/ can tolerate the texture of processed turkey roll and other deli meats. That's what brining reminds me of-moist, yes, flavorful, yes, but at the same time, sort of wet & slippery in the same way that a turkey roll is. Personally, I can barely choke down any sandwich made w/ processed meat. I tried brining once or twice about five years ago, using different brines, but each time, we threw it out before we ate all the leftovers. Sorry, that texture makes me want to gag.

Gretchen's picture

(post #33028, reply #28 of 45)

You have absolutely hit the nail on the head for the texture.  And for my part, I have never had a problem having a delicious moist roast turkey or chicken.


marie-louise's picture

(post #33028, reply #29 of 45)

Yes. I LIKE the taste & texture of plain roast turkey, assuming it is not overdone. It is one of my favorite sandwiches (leftover pork tenderloin being another.)

This is how I do mine & it is never dry:

Arrange breast side up in a shallow pan on a rack. Brush the turkey skin w/ melted butter. Roast at 325 degrees until the skin is brown, the meat releases clear juices, and the internal temperature is 160 degrees. (This takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.)

I don't eat the skin once it's cold, but the butter helps keep the turkey moist while it is roasting. I also use Diestal turkey breasts; they are available year-round here.

butterfingers's picture

(post #33028, reply #30 of 45)

I watched Julia Child spatchcock a turkey on one of her shows, and I have always wanted to try it. I spatchcock chicken religiously. But I have never done it with turkey because you can't stuff it. ( I KNOW the warnings and dangers about stuffing a turkey, but generations of Americans have survived this "dangerous" practice every November without incident and it is my personal belief that this is a case of food paranoia gone awry -- just my 2 cents).

A few months ago, I had purchased some truffle butter from Wegman's on a whim and was feeling creative. I spatchcocked a chicken and spread the softened truffle butter under the skin, gave it a good coating of kosher salt, and high-heat roasted it over some halved onions. It was, quite likely, the best chicken I have ever made. And I made a reduction sauce with the drippings and some Reisling. I have considered trying this with a turkey for Thanksgiving, but I can't stuff it (and putting the spatchcocked bird over the stuffing isn't the same -- I've tried it.)

Anyway, this has been my standby turkey recipe every Thanksgiving for the past 7 years, and it's unlikely to change. Mostly because it is now "tradition" and is now expected. It's a really good recipe too.


The fruity flavors of pear nectar and Port enchance a sage-accented gravy. Pour a rich Pinot Noir throughout the meal.

Watch how to prepare and carve your bird with our streaming video demonstration.

4 cups pear nectar
2 cups tawny Port
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

Turkey and Gravy
1 20-pound turkey, patted dry Sausage, Leek and Currant Stuffing
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1/4 cup pear nectar

4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Assorted fresh herbs (optional)

For glaze:
Boil all ingredients in heavy large saucepan until reduced to 2 cups, about 40 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For turkey and gravy:
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place turkey on rack in roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon 7 cups stuffing into main turkey cavity and 2 cups into neck cavity. Tuck wings under turkey body. Tie legs together. Add 1 egg and 1/4 cup pear nectar to remaining stuffing in bowl and toss well. Transfer to buttered 13x9x2-inch baking dish; cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate.

Reserve 1 cup glaze for gravy. Brush some of remaining glaze over turkey. Pour 1 cup chicken stock into bottom of pan. Cover turkey completely with foil. Place turkey in oven and roast 45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. and continue roasting 2 hours, basting every 30 minutes with glaze and keeping turkey covered. Uncover, baste turkey and roast until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F. and turkey is golden, about 15 minutes longer. (Place stuffing in covered baking dish in oven for last 50 minutes.) Transfer turkey to platter. Tent with aluminum foil.

Pour pan juices into heavy large saucepan. Degrease pan juices. Place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add degreased pan juices and remaining 3 cups stock and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Strain mixture back into saucepan, pressing on solids. Add reserved 1 cup glaze and simmer 5 minutes. Mix flour and butter to paste in small bowl; whisk in 1/2 cup stock mixture. Return mixture to remaining stock mixture in saucepan and boil until thick enough to coat spoon, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes.

Garnish turkey with fresh herbs if desired. Serve turkey and stuffing, passing gravy separately.

Serves 10.

Bon Appé####
December 1992

Gretchen's picture

(post #33028, reply #31 of 45)

Mean did it--and maybe/probably Glenys.


TracyK's picture

(post #33028, reply #32 of 45)

I've brined turkeys and chickens dozens of times and I've never once experienced a wet or slippery texture even vaguely resembling turkey roll or deli meat, LOL.

I like brining, especially for rotisserie chickens (since Peruvian-style is my goal), but I don't find it the be-all end-all of poultry preparation. I'm just as happy with a non-brined bird.

CT poster in bad standing since 2000.

avak123's picture

(post #33028, reply #33 of 45)

Thanks to everyone for all of the great ideas. I am definitely getting into turkey mode.

However, I was running a little short on time and didn't have the luxury of being too creative.  I ended up trying the "dry-brine" method from FC #74. I have no clue why Pam Anderson calls it a brine, but it worked beautifully. Yesterday A.M. I applied quite a bit of Kosher salt to the 5 lb. bone-in breast. Left it uncovered in the fridge until late yesterday afternoon. Let sit at room temp for one hour, applied pepper and oil/butter. Popped it in at 350 degrees for 1 hr, 15 minutes, temp at 160 degrees, let the beautiful brown bird rest for 20 minutes, and voila. Absolute simple perfection - juicy, flavorful, and not too salty.



Gretchen's picture

(post #33028, reply #34 of 45)

It's been a while since I roasted a turkey breast but I am surprised it was done in that length of time.

And "dry brine" = the way I have roasted poultry for decades, without the wait.  Just into the oven, nice crisp crust.

avak123's picture

(post #33028, reply #35 of 45)

Well, the breast was closer to 4.75 lbs. and at a little over 15 minutes/per pound it was a perfect 160. I did let it come to room temp for 1 hour, and my oven also may be cooking a little hot. 

This is the way I always roast my big chicks, don't know why I was so surprised about the turkey!

marie-louise's picture

(post #33028, reply #36 of 45)

I know that many people feel as you do. It is obviously one of those things that some of us perceive and others don't. I measured my ingredients, so I know that's not the problem. I do use those fancy [expensive] turkeys, but I have no idea if that makes a difference in how they would take up brine. (I kinda doubt it.)

I do trust all of you who say they like it. I don't agree w/ you, but I know it's not because you can't taste the difference between a turkey roll and a freshly roasted turkey, LOL.

transona5's picture

(post #33028, reply #37 of 45)

Woo, I saw Michael Chiarello brine a 2 1/2 -3 lb chicken this afternoon in a brine of 7 CUPS of kosher salt to a gallon of water. It was brined for four hours. Can we say inedible?



Gretchen's picture

(post #33028, reply #39 of 45)

He was making "cured" chicken!!


Gretchen's picture

(post #33028, reply #38 of 45)

I know that many people feel as you do. It is obviously one of those things that some of us perceive and others don't.

Exactly. I have said before, brined poultry is mushy to me.  It doesn't bother me that others love to brine. I don't, and am sometimes amused that "I must have been mistaken in what I tasted" -- or didn't do it right.