Herb & Buttermilk-Brined Turkey Breast

Warning: The following recipe may forever change your relationship with deli meat.

Perhaps you can relate. With Thanksgiving just a few weeks out, I felt a restless need to jump start my turkey game. Plus, I’ve always wanted to try Samin Nosrat’s recipe for Buttermilk-Brined Turkey, a method featured in The New York Times a while back. The acid in buttermilk helps tenderize the meat, Nosrat explains, and the sugars help create a deeply flavored golden brown skin.

For me, buttermilk always conjures thoughts of ranch dressing, so I added herby Potato Slayer seasoning to the simple marinade. The following day, I grill-roasted the breast over a charcoal fire (indirect heat) for about 50 minutes. Some recipes call for roasting turkey at higher temperatures, but I think turkey, white meat in particular, benefits from a gentler heat, so I maintained a steady temp of 350℉.

This ridiculously easy method delivered extraordinary results. The breast was beautifully browned and exceptionally moist. As someone who thinks the best part of Thanksgiving is the day after sandwiches, I’ll be making this recipe well beyond the holiday season. You may never buy the deli stuff again.

Herb & Buttermilk-Brined Turkey Breast

Makes about 4 servings

Time: 1 hour, plus 24 to 36 hours brining time

One or two days before you plan to cook, combine the buttermilk, Potato Slayer seasoning and salt in a gallon-size resealable bag, and stir to dissolve the salt. Place the turkey breast in the bag and seal tightly, expelling all the air. Use your hands to squish the bag and distribute the brine evenly, and then refrigerate for 24-36 hours. (To ensure the entire cut gets evenly marinated, flip the bag a few times while it’s in the fridge.)

Two hours before you plan to grill, remove the turkey from the bag, and allow excess marinade to drip off the cut. Place the breast on a plate and allow it to come to room temperature.

Thirty minutes before you plan to grill, build a medium-high fire and prepare the grill for two-zone cooking. Clean and oil the grill grates. Season the turkey breast with a light sprinkle of Potato Slayer. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, place the turkey breast skin-side up over indirect heat. Close the grill, vent the grill for smoking and cook until the thickest part of the breast registers 150℉ on an instant-read thermometer, about 50 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a rimmed baking sheet, tent with foil and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Grill-side banter provided by food writer, cookbook author and grilling enthusiast, Paula Disbrowe.

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