You won't find a turkey breast more moist or flavorful than this one. The extra step of air-drying in the refrigerator helps keep the skin crisp. This method can be used for one 12-pound whole turkey as well.
Make Ahead: The turkey breast needs to be brined for 16 to 24 hours, then air-dried in the refrigerator for 24 to 30 hours.
Servings: 12 - 16
- 1 gallon water
- 2 cups kosher or coarse sea salt
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 5 ounces (1 bottle) Pickapeppa hot sauce
- 2 fresh or defrosted whole turkey breasts (about 12 pounds total; may substitute one 12-pound turkey, gizzards removed)
Combine the water, sea salt, brown sugar, black peppercorns and hot sauce in a container large enough to hold both turkey breasts; stir to dissolve the salt.
Rinse the turkey breasts under cool running water, then place them in the brine. Add water as needed so the meat is completely covered. Refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.
Remove the turkey breasts from the brine, discarding the brine. Rinse well under cool running water, then pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey breasts on a baking rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 to 30 hours, allowing air to circulate around them.
Set up a smoker for direct heat; add a drip pan with a cup or two of water in it (to prevent drippings from smoking). Add enough coals or wood to preheat to low (250 degrees).
When ready to cook, brush and oil the grate(s). Place the turkey breasts in the smoker over the drip pan and cook for at least 3 hours (and at least 4 hours for a whole turkey), stoking the coals or wood and adding water to the drip pan as necessary, until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees on a meat thermometer (and 175 for dark meat on the whole bird). The skin on the turkey breasts will be crisp and browned.
Transfer the turkey breasts to a platter and let them rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
From Oakton resident Tim Artz.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick and David Hagedorn.
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