Orange-Brined Turkey BreastSteven Raichlen
Turkey breast is brined in orange juice for 24 hours before it is smoked to perfection. Slice and serve or make sandwiches using rye bread and orange-flavored mayonnaise!
More Smoked Turkey Recipes:
Orange-Brined Turkey Breast
- Advance Prep: 24 hours for brining the turkey
- Method: Smoking/ indirect grilling
- Equipment: trussing string (3 to 4 feet); about 5 cups soaked, drained hardwood chips or chunks
For the brine:
- 1-1/2 cups kosher salt
- 1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 gallon cool water
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 strips orange zest (removed with a vegetable peeler)
- Juice of one orange
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 bone-in or boneless turkey breast (5 to 7 pounds)
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted, for basting
- 12 slices good-quality rye bread
- Orange-Mayo Sandwich Sauce
Step 1: Make the brine: Place the salt, sugar, and the water in a large stockpot or clean bucket. Pin the bay leaves to the orange zest strips with cloves. Add them, the onion, cinnamon, black peppercorns, and orange juice to the brine.
Step 2: Wash the turkey breast with cold running water, then place it in the bucket with the brine. (It should be fully submerged. If not, add a bit more water.) Place a heavy weight, like a saucepan or a resalable plastic bag filled with ice, on top to keep it submerged. Brine-cure the turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Step 3: Drain the turkey breast well and blot dry.
Step 4: Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 275 degrees. (See below if you don’t own a smoker; you can also indirect grill the turkey.) Place the turkey in the smoker, meaty side up, if using bone-in turkey breast. Smoke the turkey until dark golden brown and cooked through; the internal temperature of the meat in the deepest part of the thigh should be 165 degrees F. Another test for done-ness: pierce the side of the thigh with a slender skewer: the juices should run clear. Depending on your smoker and the temperature outside, this will take 4 to 6 hours. Start basting the turkey with butter after 3 hours and baste every 30 minutes.
Step 5: If using a charcoal grill, set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-low (300 degrees F). Place the turkey, breast side up, on the grate over the drip pan. Add 3/4 cups wood chips or chunks to each mound of coals. Smoke-roast the turkey until dark golden brown and cooked through; the internal temperature of the meat in the deepest part of the thigh should be 165 degrees F. Another test for done-ness: pierce the side of the thigh with a slender skewer: the juices should run clear. This will take 3 to 3-1/2 hours, and you’ll need to replenish the charcoal every hour. Add another batch of wood chips after the first and second hours, but not the third. Start basting the turkey with melted butter after 2-1/2 hours and baste every 20 or 30 minutes.
Step 6: Transfer the turkey to a platter and remove the trussing string. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes, loosely tented with foil. Slice and serve, or make sandwiches using rye bread and the below sauce.