Dry brining has become my absolute favorite way of ensuring juicy tender poultry. Just like traditional “wet brining”, dry brining uses salt to deeply season and introduce more moisture into the meat. Contrary to what we have been led to believe, all meats benefit from a generous early salting. It won’t dry them out, trust me. Without getting too technical, it is true that the salt will initially pull the moisture from the meat. However, the effect of reverse-osmosis then pulls that flavorful moisture back into the meat seasoning it throughout. Additionally, the salt will help break down tougher muscle proteins and make the meat deliciously tender.
Dry brining turkey for the holidays has really gained in popularity the past couple years. Probably because of the relative ease doing it, that plus the fact that it takes up far less space. The only negative that I can come up with, is that it takes 2 to 3 days. I encourage you, whether cooking a breast or a whole turkey, to try dry brining the meat. The flavor of dry brined turkey is so perfectly savory and deeply seasoned throughout every bite.
In the past few “health-conscious” years, dark meat has gotten a bad rap… even though it is the most flavorful and moist part of the turkey. So, if your family only really eats the breast meat, consider grilling one or two whole bone-in turkey breast instead of ending up with leftovers that no one is going to eat.
The Coriander & Herb Dry Brine recipe is written as a ratio to every 5-pounds of turkey making it easily adaptable for using on a whole turkey… You’re welcome! 😉
Cook’s Note: Fresh turkey breast works the best. However, a thawed frozen turkey will do as long as it has not been enhanced with a salt solution. The added solution will make the meat too salty if also brined.
Coriander and Herb Dry Brined Turkey Breast
serves six to twelve
One 5 to 12 pound whole, bone-in turkey breast (see Cook’s Note above)
Dry brine for every 5-pounds of turkey:
1 tablespoon Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal) per 5 pounds of turkey or roughly 3/4 teaspoon per pound
1 tablespoon ground coriander + a pinch for grilling
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme per tablespoon of salt + a pinch for grilling
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage or marjoram or dried crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper per tablespoon of salt + a more for grilling
Extras: Plastic wrap and aluminum foil
Method: Dry brining technique and indirect grilling
Trim away excess skin and fat from turkey breast. Smooth out the skin and set aside. Stir together the dry brine ingredients. Sprinkle a couple teaspoons of the mix over the cavity and sprinkle the remainder over the top of the breast using more where the meat is thicker. Wrap the breast tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator on a tray or in a shallow bowl for 2 to 3 days (I did three).
Remove turkey from refrigerator, unwrap and thoroughly rinse with cold water to remove any excess salt. Smooth down skin (I hold the skin in place with T-pins to keep it from pulling back) and drizzle with olive oil. Season with coriander, freshly ground black pepper and more thyme, if desired.
Set up grill for indirect cooking with medium low heat. Place a drip pan below where the turkey breast will sit. Brush and oil grate before grilling.
Place turkey on grill over drip pan. I like to use a digital probe thermometer to take a lot of the guesswork out.
Close cover and cook for 30 minutes. Check on how the breast is browning – brined meats brown very quickly.
If it is already a nice color, cover with foil and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 155°F. Or like mine, the top was browning faster than the lower half; I covered just the portion was browning.
The turkey is actually cooked at 165°F, but carryover cooking will raise the temperature another 10 degrees (I promise). I pulled mine at 155°F and reached 167°F. Let it stand tented with aluminum foil for 20 minutes while the juices repose before carving – otherwise they all run out and you have dry turkey.
Carve, serve, and enjoy! If it just isn’t turkey without the gravy, try my In-A-Pinch Poultry Gravy!
Cheers and Happy Grilling!