This simple turkey breast is dripping with flavor and moisture from the simple act of placing it in salt water about 8 hours prior to cooking. The brine penetrates the entire roast and seasons the meat from the inside. It also makes the meat more forigiving if you cook it a few minutes too long.
There are a few things to know about brining a boneless turkey breast. if you don’t have 6 or 7 hours in which to brine, use a little more salt. Do not, however, brine this breast overnight–it will get too salty. If you have a couple of additional hours after the breast has brined, a useful step is to wipe it dry, place it on a rack over a baking sheet and let it dry thoroughly, uncovered in the fridge for a few more hours–this will help it brown better once it goes into the oven. If you don’t have that additional couple of hours, simply dry it well with paper towels right before roasting.
The only additional step is to saute 3 or 4 onions in olive oil about an hour before you’re ready to roast. Add marsala and reduce, then allow the onions to cool. Place the roast on top of the onions, season with pepper, rosemary and rub with olive oil. These onions will get darker and darker (and sweeter and sweeter) as the breast roasts. Keep adding a bit of water to the pan if they begin burning at any point. What these onions provide is a ready-made sauce for the meat that’s absolutely complex and delicious.
After the roast is finished, allow it to rest about 10 minutes before carving. It makes terrific leftovers or sandwiches for lunch, therefore, don’t carve more than you need to serve at any one time–it stays much moister if any leftovers are left unsliced (then sliced when you are about to use them the next day).
To accompany the turkey, I’m serving quinoa with cauliflower and mint. Tune in tomorrow for that recipe!
Brined Boneless Turkey Breast
serves 4 with leftovers
4-5 lb boneless turkey breast, tied into a roast (your butcher can do this for you)
1/2 c salt
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 tbls olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
3 -4 small onions, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ slices
1/4 c dry marsala
In a large mixing bowl (small enough to fit in the fridge), melt sugar and salt in a small amount of hot water from the tap. Stir the paste until it’s melted, then add cold water to fill the bowl, leaving room for the meat. Add the turkey breast and cover; refrigerate for 6 – 7 hours.
Remove from water and dry with paper towels. Place on rack over sheet pan and return to fridge for 2 hours (up to 4 hours). If you don’t have time for this step–omit and just remove from brine and dry well with paper towels.
In an ovenproof skillet large enough to eventually hold the turkey breast, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil , then add onions. Saute for about 10 minutes on low heat until onions have begun to caramelize. Add marsala and reduce until wine has evaporated (maybe 3 – 4 minutes). Set aside and cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place turkey breast on top of onions and rub with rosemary, black pepper and remainder of olive oil. Place skillet in the oven and roast, uncovered, for about an hour, or until internal temperature is about 160 – 165 degrees. Baste every 10 minutes or so, then add a couple of tablespoons of water from time to time, to prevent onions from burning and to keep some moisture in the pan.
Let rest for 10 minutes before carving, and try not to carve more than you’re serving at any one time–it will stay moister for leftovers if it’s freshly sliced to order.