Ok, so making a turkey can be a daunting task for the holiday time. But you shouldn’t be scared of it! Just by using a few simple techniques and some necessary tools, you will have a perfectly juicy, golden brown, roasted turkey in no time!
Perfect for the Thanksgiving or any time during the holidays!
But here’s my first secret….I don’t make a whole turkey. I only roast the turkey breast on the bone, and this is for a couple of reasons:
- No one in my family really likes the dark meat.
- It is a million times easier to make a perfect turkey only using the turkey breast.
Why is it easier? Well, for the dark meat to be cooked completely, you need to bring the leg and thigh meat to a higher temperature than you would for the white meat. Higher temperature = dry white meat = no bueno. My family would rather have juicy white meat over dark meat any day! And perfectly cooked white and dark meat is much more difficult to do when you roast the whole bird. So we just stick to the turkey breast!
The first step in making a perfectly roasted turkey is to bathe the bird in a brine! Well what’s a brine you ask?
- A brine, in its most basic form, is a salt solution. But to amp up the turkey flavor, I like to add more flavorful liquid to the brine as well.
Here’s the brine recipe I used this year!
Apple Cider Brine for Turkey
*Note: this recipe was created for a 7 – 9 pound turkey breast. A larger bird may need more liquid to cover, depending on the size vessel you have*
- 1 gallon water (hot)
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 32 oz. apple cider
- 32 oz. chicken stock
- 2 oranges, quartered
- 1 onion, quartered
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 4 springs rosemary
Dissolve the salt in the water in a large pot (I used a 2 gallon pasta pot). Add oranges, onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, and rosemary to the solution. Let the solution cool down a little before adding the turkey. Allow the turkey to sit in the brine overnight.
The rest of the cooking process is a piece of cake! But you really do need one necessary tool in order to make the perfect turkey:
This will be the best investment you make in your kitchen. A probe thermometer is THE best way to make sure the turkey is cooked all the way through without over or undercooking the bird! And the next steps to cooking the turkey as super easy once you have this nifty gadget.
So here are the steps to cooking the perfect holiday turkey breast!
- Brine the turkey overnight
- When ready to cook, place turkey in a roasting pan and pat dry
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
- Rub the outside of the turkey with 3 – 4 tablespoons of butter
- Pour about 2 – 3 cups of chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting pan
- Insert the probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, making sure you don’t hit the bones
- Set the probe alert temperature to 160 degrees F
- Place turkey in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook turkey until the probe beeps, alerting you that the internal temperature of the turkey has reached 160 degrees F (For an 8 – 9 pound turkey breast, it will take about 1.5 hours to cook completely).
- Remove turkey from the oven and cover loosely with foil. Allow the bird to rest for 15 – 20 minutes before carving.
- WHAT EVER YOU DO, DO NOT REMOVE THE PROBE THERMOMETER UNTIL FULLY RESTED. Otherwise you will have a dry turkey on your hands.
And really that’s it! Carve the turkey and get ready to eat the best turkey of your life! I promise it will be worth it!
Gravy is optional, but encouraged!