Posted by: gbdub | August 30, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Turkey… “Funky Bird” Brined Turkey Breast


Some people will tell you that roasted turkey is only for thanksgiving. Those people are dumb. Some people will tell you that if you live by yourself, you shouldn’t cook a 6 lb. turkey breast unless you want to eat nothing but turkey for a week. Those people have something of a point. But for you, dear readers, I was willing to take on the challenge of 7 days of turkey sandwiches – and enjoyed every bit of it.

If you’ve never brined a turkey before, you need to. This recipe produces an amazingly juicy bird with a beautifully crisped skin. The brine marinade adds a rich flavor of citrus and spice with a bit of kick to the meat, while still allowing the essential flavor of the turkey shine through.


Ingredients.¬† Note that the turkey breast is “natural”. Seriously, DO NOT get a pre-brined or pre-marinated turkey breast. You will end up with an inedibly salty disaster that will cause your family to disown you. And you don’t want your poor mom to be that lady on TV saying “I just don’t know where he went wrong!” and sobbing uncontrollably. Well, anonymous reader’s mom, using pre-brined turkey was where he went wrong. I told him not to.


Making brine is easy. Just cut everything up and mix it together. The hard part is finding a container big enough to fit a turkey breast and well over a gallon of this stuff. Be creative; anything clean and plastic¬† will do (or glass, but not metal – it will react and taste nasty). I used my refrigerator’s crisper drawer lined with a garbage bag. Hey, only the best on this blog.

Anyway, drop the bird in the brine and leave it in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Turn it over now and then to make sure it’s evenly marinated.


Rub your turkey breast with vegetable oil and “Essence of Emeril” or similar creole seasoning. Don’t just sprinkle, rub it in. This will ensure a nicely browned, crispy skin. Sort of like tanning oil, but with more paprika.


After 1.75 hours in the oven at 375 degrees, it should look something like this. It’s okay to drool a little. Just clean up after yourself. Let the meat rest a bit before carving.


Delicious. Please remind me to buy some dark plates so you can actually see the meat next time I cook turkey.

This is a great turkey recipe, but note that the original recipe from Emeril includes a “poblano chocolate mole”. I whipped this up but can’t really recommend it. Maybe I made it wrong, but the chocolate was overpowering and it didn’t really meld with the turkey. Also the pine nuts gave me “pine mouth” (which is apparently a real condition). At any rate, this turkey is more than good enough on its own. If you must put something on it, some kind of sweet and spicy salsa or relish might do well (like say, mango habanero salsa?).

“Funky Bird” Brined Turkey Breast (from Food Network ):



  1. 1 cup lemon juice
  2. 3/4 cup orange juice
  3. 1 cup kosher salt
  4. 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  5. 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  6. 2 oranges, quartered
  7. 2 serrano chiles, minced (with seeds)
  8. 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  9. 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  10. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  11. 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  12. 1 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican, if you’ve got it)
  13. 1 gallon cold water
  14. 1 (6 1/2 pound) whole turkey breast
  15. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  16. ~ 1 tablespoon essence (recipe below, or buy pre mixed)

Combine brine ingredients 1-13 in a large, non-reactive container. Stir to dissolve all of the sugar and salt. Rinse your turkey breast, then add to the brine. Marinate in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Remove turkey from brine, pat dry with paper towels, and rub with oil and Essence seasoning. Place in a roasting pan and cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until a thermometer in the thickest part of the meat reads 165 degrees F. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.


  1. 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  2. 2 tablespoons salt
  3. 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  4. 1 tablespoon black pepper
  5. 1 tablespoon onion powder
  6. 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  7. 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  8. 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine ingredients and store in an airtight container.

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