Torrisi's Turkey

November 11, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Serves: 12

Ingredients

For brining the turkey:

  • 1 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)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 boneless turkey breasts, 3 to 4 1/2 pounds each

For the glaze:

  • 8 heads garlic, lightly smashed but intact
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (1 1/2 teaspoons if using Morton's kosher salt)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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Reviews (73) Questions (3)

73 Reviews

Victoria G. November 28, 2016
I love this recipe! My college boy is making this for us each year now and I think it needs to be in the mix more often! So, I'll make it this coming weekend to go with the leftover gravy I have in the freezer! Thanks for all the fun modifications too.
 
Victoria G. November 27, 2017
This year I followed the recipe perfectly, but, wrapped the breast in unbleached parchment before the plastic wrap. It is the best we've had. Can't wait to have it at Christmas!
 
AntoniaJames November 23, 2016
Have any of you actually broken this down, doing the wrapped immersion at low heat on one day and then finishing much later, as in on the next day?<br />I'm seeking guidance on completing the process. Here is my question on the Hotline. https://food52.com/hotline/34042-i-roasted-torrisi-s-turkey-breast-just-to-135-degrees-chilled-it-how-long-what-oven-temp-is-best-f <br />I'd really appreciate any insights from those of you who have made this recipe or are knowledgable about the process. <br /> Thanks so much, everyone! And Happy Thanksgiving to you all. ;o)
 
Kitspy November 21, 2016
I made this last night for an early Thanksgiving with my partner in crime since we spend the actual holiday with our families. I'm not sure if I followed the recipe correctly, in terms of temperature and timing, but I did my best - and it turned out excellently. There are only 2 of us and leftovers will only be consumed up to Thanksgiving day, so I had one very small turkey breast, around 1.5 lbs.<br /><br />I was uneasy about my particular brand of plastic wrap, so what I did instead was cut a roasting bag into a flat sheet and roll up my turkey in it before tightly wrapping it in foil. I discovered at the last moment that I had a broken thermometer, so I threw it in there and hoped for the best, leaving it in at 250 for about an hour. By the time I had submerged it, unwrapped, and glazed it I had a back-up thermometer. Pulled it out of the oven at 160 degrees and let it rest while I finished everything else.<br /><br />I have made us our own mini Thanksgiving dinner for the last 4 or 5 years, and this was hands-down the best one. Despite my initial skepticism and bumps in the road along the way, the turkey turned out perfectly. I made the glaze the night before and it was delicious (a little thick because I don't own a food processor and mashed the garlic by hand). Highly recommend this recipe - don't be afraid!
 
akrainey November 2, 2016
Is there a difference between a rolled turkey breast and just boned?
 
Julio C. October 18, 2016
Amazing recipe, totally a repeater. The meat was so juicy... I add 2 un punch smashed garlics, 2 bay laurel leaves to the brine... and cooked according to the directions. DELICIOUS.
 
Claire R. November 26, 2015
made this for thanksgiving and it turned out really well! thank you!
 
Nicole O. November 24, 2015
Just started my brine for this. 2nd year making it! I love this recipe because I always feel there's so much waste with a regular turkey in my house. (Husband is allergic to turkey :-( )
 
CarolineSL October 27, 2015
this didn't work for me either - I think the recipe should be revised to state that the internal temp should reach 150 - 165 during the 2nd roasting. I failed to read the intro text thoroughly (my mistake), and now have wasted a turkey breast and an afternoon of roasting it.
 
davegorf January 30, 2015
Do you think this method would work with a Veal breast?
 
Deborah January 24, 2015
Major failure with this. I followed the recipe but using only a half of a turkey breast, about 2-1/2 lbs. The oven was at 375 F, (verified by the oven thermometer that I keep in the oven). After 3 hours the probe thermometer reached 135 F. I plunged the wrapped bird in ice water for 5 minutes, unwrapped it & removed skin, glazed<br /> it, back in the oven for 20 minutes. The breast was just beyond raw in the center and not edible. Waste of time and effort (and plastic wrap and aluminum foil)! The USDA recommends 165 F as a safe temp for poultry breasts, a temperature that can't be achieved in this recipe by the additional 15-20 minutes in the hotter (425) oven. Comments, please!
 
Karen L. January 14, 2015
A classic example of pro kitchen staff including a lot of effort that makes sense for a high volume kitchen, but is a lot of unnecessary effort at home. <br /><br />Simplified home cooking directions: <br />Brine and dry.<br />Place turkey breast in a lidded roasting pan, large casserole or dutch oven. Or, cover pan tightly with a double layer of foil.<br />Slow roast as directed. <br />Take lid off, slather on glaze, finish roasting as directed. <br /><br />The individual wrapping makes sense if you are cooking half a dozen of these at once. If you are cooking one, it doesnt. It also sounds like they are trying really, really hard to mimic sous-vide. If you want to play around with one of the home sous vide gadgets they now sell, go for it. But for one turkey breast, a covered pan will do.<br /><br />The cold water bath makes sense to slow down the cooking by residual heat of multiple breasts while you deal with glazing. It also makes sense if you want to hold the multiples of par-cooked breasts cold and finish off two or three at a time, as needed, based on orders. Neither make sense for a home cook roasting one breast for serving as soon as it is done. Just open it up, glaze it, and carry on.
 
caninechef November 2, 2016
This is one of the best comments I have read on food52. I will be trying this using Karen's suggestions. They make a lot of sense to me.
 
AntoniaJames November 5, 2016
caninechef, I couldn't agree more. I woke up this morning thinking that I'll do the same, but will run a test - one (half breast) in a lidded pan, the other wrapped as instructed. Stay tuned . . . . ;o)
 
Alexandra November 9, 2016
Please keep us updated on your test, AntoniaJames. I've had this recipe on my to-try list for two years and have never worked up the gumption to do it! I agree that Karen's suggestions are fantastic, and I always seem to stumble upon YOUR comments and ideas on other recipes. I like to think that we're kindred cooking spirits, making many of the same dishes :)
 
Renée (. December 8, 2014
Worked out here, brilliantly! I did have to do things a little differently, though. It's difficult to find kosher boneless turkey breast. Here, anyway. Kosher poultry is soaked and salted before it can be sold as kosher, and therefore does not require brining. I took a half turkey breast, on the bone, and wrapped it in plastic wrap and foil, and roasted it exactly as described in the recipe. I did not shock it in ice water, nor did I remove the skin after unwrapping it. I also didn't make the glaze, because we were having gravy and I thought the flavors might clash. So I just sprinkled it with a bit of sea salt, pepper, and Hungarian paprika. It took about 30 minutes to come up to temperature (I assume because of the bone). It was gorgeous, juicy, and delicious. I was skeptical and scared, but I'm now a convert!
 
Rinkey November 28, 2014
Joyce- It didn't work out for me either.
 
Kristen M. November 28, 2014
Rinkey, I'm very sorry to hear this. What went wrong?
 
Joyce W. November 28, 2014
This just did not work out at all. So disappointed
 
Kristen M. November 28, 2014
I am so sorry to hear this -- what trouble did you run into?
 
Rinkey November 26, 2014
Eeyore's idea of chopping off the top of the heads of garlic rather than smashing them is a brilliant one! Saved me lots of time removing the garlic...
 
foodynewty November 25, 2014
Would the cooking time be longer for a bone-in breast?<br />
 
Kristen M. November 25, 2014
I haven't tested this with a bone-in breast, and there's a chance it might not cook evenly. You can ask your butcher to bone it out for you -- or do it yourself, preferably with a sharp boning knife. (I happen to find DIY butchery therapeutic.)
 
Rinkey November 25, 2014
I have the same question as bakeaholic- have a 7 lb. turkey breast. Longer baking time?
 
Kristen M. November 25, 2014
Yes, definitely -- it's hard to say how much longer, since the temperature creeps up slowly on this one (a good thing!) so I would start early.
 
Rinkey November 25, 2014
Thanks Kristen- I'm going to shoot for 4 hours at 250F degrees with the boneless 7 lbs. breast. If the internal temp doesn't get high enough before my noon deadline of taking it out of the oven I can always up the oven temp to 350.<br /> I'll let you know how it works out with the timing! I think this is going to be an outstanding turkey!
 
Molly November 25, 2014
Any potential problems with using a 6 lb. turkey breast instead of 3-4? I wasn't able to find the right size at my overrun grocery store.
 
Kass B. November 25, 2014
I got my 5-7 lb turkey breast with rib meat today at Walmart. I thought I saw Kristen answer a similar question below. I think the time would be longer, just need to keep an eye on the thermometer for the suggested cooking temperatures. You could probably cut it in half, which would shorten the cooking time. I've seen whole turkey's cooked this way probably to reduce the cooking time.<br /><br />I just bought Saran wrap too since my Glad plastic wrap said not to touch the food. It did not list what it was made out of, but it did say Microwave safe. I saw oven bags too, but they were more $$ and I wanted to follow the wrapping method specified in the recipe.
 
Kristen M. November 25, 2014
Yes, definitely just allow more time -- check out my note to Rinkey above. Thanks for weighing in, Kass!
 
meghan November 24, 2014
I've gone to 3 grocery stores and none of them carry boneless turkey breasts. Is that not a common thing?
 
Kristen M. November 25, 2014
We've always gotten ours at Whole Foods, and a lot of butchers and butcher counters will bone the breast for you. Hope that helps!
 
meghan November 25, 2014
Thanks Kristen! I used instacart, which ships to BK from Whole Foods & Fairway and had free delivery for first time users. Just a tip for NYers! :)
 
Kristen M. November 25, 2014
Great to know!
 
Kass B. November 24, 2014
The glaze calls for 8 heads of garlic. However one of the pictures shows 4 heads of garlic. Is it 4 heads for each turkey breast and 1 tsp olive oil for each head?
 
Kristen M. November 26, 2014
Sorry I missed this, Kass -- I halved the recipe in the photos, which worked out well.
 
Kass B. November 26, 2014
That's what I thought you may have done. Since the recipe says two 2-3 lb turkey breasts, I assumed you would wrap them separately and place the two side by side in the roasting pan. Then you'd stick a thermometer in each, right?
 
Kristen M. November 26, 2014
Yep!
 
Kristen M. November 26, 2014
Just be sure to leave space between them in the pan for the hot air to circulate and cook them evenly.