Bourbon Brined Turkey Breast with Bourbon Turkey Gravy

December 20, 2014

This turkey breast is so juicy, tender, and full of flavor you’ll want to serve it year round, not just during the holidays! It’s brined overnight in a Maker’s Mark bourbon-spiced brine, then roasted with herbs and spices, aromatics and apples. This dish is simply heaven!

Maker’s Mark® Bourbon Brined Turkey Breast
Courtesy of Lee Anne Wong, Chef and Maker’s Mark® Cookbook Editor
Serves 6-8

Prep time: 8 hours
Cook time: 2½- 3 hours
Level: Intermediate

1 brined whole turkey breast, 6-8 lbs (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ cup apple juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
½ lb slab bacon, cut into ¼-inch thick pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick pieces
1 head fennel, cut into ¼-inch thick slices vertically
1 large red onion, cut into ½ inch thick slices/rings
10 cloves whole garlic
1 gala or granny smith apple, pitted, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
4-5 fresh bay leaves
Salt and fresh black pepper
1 recipe Maker’s Mark® Bourbon Turkey Gravy (recipe follows)

Step 1.  Preheat the oven to 400F. Remove the turkey breast from the brine and pat the outside and inner cavity dry. Season generously with salt and pepper, and the minced thyme inside and out.

Step 2.  In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, Maker’s Mark® Bourbon, vinegar, apple juice, brown sugar, and rosemary, whisking until well combined.

Step 3.  In the bottom of a small roasting pan/large casserole dish, arrange the bacon pieces, carrot slices, fennel, onion, garlic, apple slices, and bay leaves. Pour the marinade over the vegetables and then place the turkey breast on top, breast side up.
Step 4.  Roast the turkey for an hour at 400F, basting occasionally with pan liquid. Reduce the heat to 350F and continue to cook until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 158F and the skin is golden brown, about an hour and a half more.

Step 5.  Allow the turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes, tented in foil. The meat will continue to cook as it rests. Slice the turkey breast and serve over the confit of vegetables with the Maker’s Mark® Bourbon turkey gravy.

Bourbon Brine

½ cup Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup sugar
6 cups water
1 piece cinnamon stick
10 pieces allspice berries
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
1 whole turkey breast, 6-8 lbs

Step 1.  Combine everything except the turkey breast in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolves. Simmer for 10 minutes then remove from the heat. Allow the brine to cool down completely.

Step 2.  Place the turkey breast (breast side down) into the brine in a large container. (Or you can put the turkey in a triple layered plastic bag and pour the brine in, tying the bag at the top). Allow the turkey to cure for 6-8 hours, then remove from the brine.

Bourbon Turkey Gravy
Makes 1 quart

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pieces turkey wings, chopped into 2-inch pieces
1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig sage
¼ cup flour
¼ cup Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
½ cup red wine
3 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Splash red wine vinegar, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Step 1.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over high heat. Brown the turkey wing pieces in the pot, then add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and sage. Reduce the heat to medium-high, then sauté the aromatics with the turkey wings until they begin to soften and color, about 10 minutes, then sprinkle the flour on top, stirring to coat well.

Step 2.  Cook out the flour for 2 minutes then add the Maker’s Mark® Bourbon, red wine, stock, and brown sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon until well combined. Continue to stir the gravy. It will thicken as the liquid begins to heat up. Once the gravy has thickened, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the gravy for at least 30 minutes, until the alcohol has cooked off and the gravy is flavorful. Add water or stock as necessary for desired consistency and season to taste with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Strain the gravy before serving.