This recipe was truly a labor of love. For the second testing, I couldn’t find a turkey breast so I bought a smallish turkey to try instead. I brought it home, made the brine, and let it soak up all of the sweetness and flavor from the cider and seasonings. I pulled the turkey from the brine, rinsed it off, and lowered it into my biggest slow cooker.
IT. WAS. TOO. BIG.
Why didn’t I check to see if it would fit before I brined it?! Determined, I dropped the turkey on a large cutting board, sharpened my knife, and for the first time in my life, dismantled an entire raw turkey. Luckily, the breast fit in my slow cooker. And as it turns out, it was one of the juiciest, best-tasting turkey breasts I’ve ever eaten.
Prep time 25 minutes, plus cooling and brining time
2 quarts (1.9 liters) unsweetened apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 cup (150 g) kosher salt
1 whole turkey breast or 2 bone-in turkey breast halves
1 In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients except for the turkey. Bring to a low simmer and stir until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Feel free to add several cups of ice cubes to speed up the cooling.
2 When the brine has cooled, place the turkey breast in a large bowl or stockpot. Add brine to the container and enough water to completely cover the turkey.
3 Cover the bowl or pot containing the turkey and chill. Let it brine for 12 to 24 hours.
4 When you’re ready to cook the turkey breast, place four aluminum foil balls in the bottom of a 6-quart (5.7 liter) slow cooker.
5 Remove the turkey breast from the brine and run it under cool water for a minute or two to remove any excess brine.
6 Place the turkey, breast-side down, on top of the aluminum foil balls.
7 Cover and cook for 21/2 to 3 hours or until a meat thermometer reaches 160°F (71°C) when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
8 Remove from the cooker and cover, letting it rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.