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Author Notes: With this just-crazy-enough-to-work technique, you won't dry out the edges of the turkey waiting for the middle to cook through, and literally none of the turkey's juices are squandered. Admittedly, there are a lot of oven temps to work around -- here's how to actually pull it off on your oven's busiest day of the year: Make the glaze the night (or a few nights) before. Start the roast a bit earlier than you think you need to, and just tent it with foil if it comes out early -- it will hold its internal temperature for a good while (and it can be served hot, warm, or even cold). See the article on Food52 for why this technique works, but if you want to be extra safe, you can bring the roast up to 165° F -- thanks to the slow-building temperature and the effects of the brine, the roast is also really hard to overcook. Note: The recipe halves well, but you will probably want to make the full recipe of brine to be able to fully submerge the breast (as long as the ratio stays the same, it won't be overseasoned). If you need to convert for another type of salt, see this New York Times article. Recipe adapted slightly from Torrisi Italian Specialties in New York, NY via The New York Times. —Genius Recipes
For brining the turkey:
cup kosher salt (we used Diamond Crystal, which is 135 grams/cup -- if using Morton's kosher salt, use 1/2 cup, or see headnote for other types of salt)
boneless turkey breasts, 3 to 4 1/2 pounds each
For the glaze:
heads garlic, lightly smashed but intact
teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (1 1/2 teaspoons if using Morton's kosher salt)
tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
tablespoon thyme leaves
- To brine the turkey: In a medium saucepan, bring 1 quart water to a boil with the salt and sugar. Pour into a large pot, and add 3 quarts cold water. Once the brine is cool, submerge the turkey breasts and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.
- To make the glaze: Heat oven to 375° F. Toss the garlic heads with the olive oil in a small casserole dish, cover and roast until the garlic is soft, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Leave covered until cool enough to handle, then squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins into a food processor and purée. Add the honey, salt, and pepper and blend once more. Cover until ready to use.
- To cook the turkey: Heat oven to 250° F. Remove the breasts from the brine, pat dry, and wrap each one four times in plastic wrap and once in aluminum foil. Insert an oven-safe thermometer into the center of one breast and place both on a wire rack in a roasting pan. Add water to reach to just below the rack. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 135° F, 2 to 3 hours. Near the end of cooking time, fill a large bowl halfway with ice water.
- Remove the turkey from oven and raise temperature to 425° F. Without removing thermometer or wrapping, submerge the turkey in the ice bath for 5 minutes. Remove foil, plastic wrap, and turkey skin. Pat dry and brush glaze liberally on all sides of the breasts. Roast until glaze is golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh thyme and serve thinly sliced, hot or cold.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!