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Christmas Turkey Soaked in Brine

Asked by Liz9. Answered on 15th October 2011

Full question

Can the soaking in brine method be used for a boneless turkey crown and what would be the estimated cooking times for crown weight of 2kg? We are having our Christmas meal in 2 weeks as my daughter is leaving for Australia for 1yr - so I want the meal to be extra special! Many thanks. Liz

Our answer

All white meats and poultry benefit from a soak in brine as they actually absorb some water during the process. When the turkey is roasted some liquid comes out but as some has been added during the brining process it means that the meat remains juicy, as well as being perfectly seasoned.

For a turkey breast crown the cooking time is a lot shorter so there is less risk of the meat drying out and brining isn't stricly necessary. But it can still benefit a little from a short soak in brine if you prefer to do this. You won't need to make as much of the brining solution as for a whole turkey so find a pan or bowl large enough for the turkey breast and you can just quickly cover it with water to find out the volume of brine you will need. If you are not sure how to scale down the recipe then just make up a half quantity of Nigella's christmas turkey brine (Christmas, p115) and discard any excess. A boneless breast should only be brined for 5 to 6 hours and make sure it is kept cold during the brining process.

The brining can be done the day before and you can remove the turkey from the brine, pat it dry with kitchen paper (paper towels) and leave it covered in the fridge until you are ready to cook. Make sure that your turkey (whole or crown) is kept very cold during the soaking period. Smear some butter into the cavity between the skin and breast meat and drizzle some oil and seasoning over the skin to make sure the breast remains moist.

For a boneless (and also an on the bone) crown we would suggest you preheat the oven to 190c/375F and cook for 45 minutes per kg/20 minutes per lb. However if the breast is cooked from room temperature then the cooking time will be a little shorter. You could start checking the turkey crown 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time; either insert a sharp knife and see if the juices are running clear or use a digital (instant read) thermometer for the most accurate results. Poultry should be cooked to 74c/165F but you could remove the turkey once it reaches 70c/160F and give it a good rest as the internal temperature wil continue to rise as it stands.

We would like to caution that the pan juices from a brinded turkey can be too salty to make a gravy so you should make the gravy separately.


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