Brining a 15-pound turkey for a Thanksgiving crowd requires a little more finessing of fridge space than this smaller turkey breast for six people. Once you have the orange, honey, and herb brine combined and cooled, just pour it into a resealable bag, add the turkey breast, and let it hang out in a 13-by-9-inch dish in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to cook, add extra flavor with a fresh thyme rub, and roast first on high to get a deep golden skin, then on low for the juiciest meat ever. Serve all the classic Thanksgiving dishes on the side.
Special equipment: You’ll need a 2- to 2-1/2-gallon resealable food-safe bag for brining the turkey.
- 1Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the oranges in wide strips, avoiding the white pith; place it in a medium saucepan. Juice the oranges and set aside 1/2 cup of the juice (save the rest for another use).
- 2Add 1 cup of the measured water, the salt, honey, thyme, bay leaves, shallots, and pepper to the saucepan, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the salt and honey have completely dissolved, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof 2-quart container and add the remaining 3 cups of water and the reserved orange juice. Let cool for 45 minutes.
- 3Fill a 2-cup measuring cup with ice and add enough water to measure 2 cups. Pour it into the cooled brine mixture and stir to combine.
- 4Place a 2- to 2-1/2-gallon resealable bag in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and open the bag. Pour in the brine and place the turkey breast in the bag, skin-side down. Seal the bag, place the dish in the refrigerator, and brine for at least 8 hours and up to 16 hours.
For roasting the turkey breast:
- 1Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Combine the oil, thyme, and pepper in a small bowl; set aside.
- 2Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels; discard the brine. Place the turkey skin-side up in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Rub the thyme mixture all over the top and sides of the turkey.
- 3Roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the breast registers 160°F and the juices run clear, about 75 minutes more. (Check the turkey after 1 hour and if the skin starts to get too brown before the meat is done, loosely cover the breast with foil.)
- 4Place the roasting pan on a wire rack and let the turkey rest at least 10 minutes before carving.