Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Smoked Turkey Breast (for all the right reasons)

Turkey meat that is super-juicy, tender, well seasoned, and perfectly prepared is a treat.  So, why is it so hard to get it exactly right, every single time?  Well, turkeys present a bit of a conundrum...

Here's the problem... White meat is done at 160 degrees F.  Dark meat isn't safely cooked until it hits 180 degrees.  Why would anyone overcook (and dry out) the white-meat by 20 degrees, just to get the legs and thighs up to the proper temperature?  I say... "Don't!"

You Will Need:
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 Cup apple cider
  • 3/4 Cup honey
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1/2 Cup Tony Chachere's Creole Spice
  • 1/2 Cup olive oil
  • 3 Fresh (or thawed) Turkey Breasts

A quick word about the Turkey Breasts... do NOT get the "Turkey Roast" or "Turkey Loaf" pack from the store.  You want the twin breasts, with bones, just as they came from the Turkey. The label should say something like "Turkey Breast with some back and wing meat."  I find that three of these will fit very nicely into one of those full sized foil pans you can get for $1.
When you get your breasts home, thaw them out.  Once they are thawed, open them up and drain them, then rinse them well and pat them dry.  Notice that they haven't been split open... this makes them wobbly and they have a hard time standing up on their own.  Splitting them open increases the surface area for cooking, and helps them be more stable in the pan.
Rotate the breast so that the narrow end is pointing up (shown here, at the right).  With a good pair of poultry or kitchen-sheers, snip out the remnant of the backbone that's left. Grab the two vertical plates from the ribs (one in each hand) and lay the breast down, pressing on both sides.  You'll hear a "POP" as the wishbone breaks and the breasts split open and away from the keel bone.  
Once it's been split, you can lay it down (skin side up).  Repeat the process for all of the breasts and get them situated in the pan.  Snug them up next to each other so they can commiserate in their misfortune!  Wash your hands and grab a couple of beers, one for you and one for the injection...

Mix all of the ingredients for the injection together in a bowl.  I use a whisk and I mix very thoroughly!  Don't expect the seasonings to dissolve and don't expect the mixture to come together into a nice homogeneous liquid.  It won't!  You'll need to whisk and mix every time you fill the injection syringe!

Fill the syringe (available at most any grocery store, Amazon, etc) and start shooting up your breasts!  This is "Breast Augmentation" of the finest order!  If you over-inject and some leaks out into the bottom of the pan, worry not, you'll be pouring the rest of the injection into the bottom of the pan!  I give a total of 4 injections (2 on the left, and 2 on the right) to each breast.

Now, once your breasts have been injected, pour the rest of the liquid over the breasts and into the pan.  Insert a probe thermometer into each breast (if you have that many probes, do it!), or into the largest breast if you only have one probe.  Place the pan into your oven or smoker, and bring the heat to 250 degrees.  The trick is to slow-cook these wonders up to 160 degrees, AND NOT A SINGLE DEGREE MORE!!

When they hit 160, pull them out and cover everything with foil.  Let them sit there, nice and quiet (away from the reach of your hound-dog, if you have one like mine).  They'll probably carry-over to 163 or so, no big deal.  After 30 minutes, you should be able to carve them up.  Cut them right down the middle, then cut each breast laterally, so that a juicy piece of the skin goes with each bite, as shown (below).  You will LOVE this turkey!  I've been told by several families that I've cooked this for, that "It was the best turkey they had ever eaten!"

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