Welcome to my 2015 Thanksgiving Q&A series. I will be answering questions asked by the readers of my blog. You can check out all the posts in this series by clicking on the Thanksgiving Q&A 2015 tag.
Question - Do You Have to Brine a Natural Bone-In Turkey Breast?
Thanks in much part to Alton Brown, brining has become a big thing in turkeys. So much so that you now find turkeys that are brined for you or you find brining kits in the store (both of which I wouldn't waste my money on). I love brining. It makes for a really flavorful, juicy turkey. I had someone ask if it was necessary. Do I have to brine my turkey, particularly if I am just doing a turkey breast.
The answer is no. You can still produce a fine, tasty bird without brining. I believe there is one thing that is more important that the brine. Temperature. The best thing you can do for your turkey is cook it to the proper temperature. For turkey breast that is 165 degrees. If you cook the turkey to that temperature, they you will have a perfectly juicing turkey each and every time.
If cooking to the proper temperature produces a juicy turkey why take the time and effort to brine. First, I look as brining as being insurance. You have more leeway when it comes to temperature when you brine. A turkey that is cooked to 175 that is brined will be noticeably juicier than one that wasn't. Of course a brine adds flavor, deep into the meat.
Flavor Without the Brine
You can still add flavor without the brine. Place fresh, chopped herbs or spices under the skin. Or make a really killer gravy. If you take the time to season properly then you can have a tasty turkey even if you do not choose to brine.