Alas, it’s true, for most of us in Minnesota we just can’t grill year round. My husband claims it’s possible, but somehow we never get around to shoveling a path through the snow to the grill. It’s just too cozy inside by the stove. So, to celebrate our final grilling weekend, we invited a few friends over and made a Brined Chipotle Orange Turkey Breast.
I’d never brined meat before, and had been intrigued by the idea. Suffice it to say that it does indeed create incredibly moist, flavorful turkey. There’s a little more effort than just popping it onto the grill, but it’s well worth the few minutes required to chop up some onions and garlic and gather some spices and salt. Most of the time needed for this recipe is spent waiting for the bird to marinate for 6 hours in the brine.
Start by chopping your onion and garlic, zesting your orange, and gathering all the ingredients you need for the brine.
I happened to have some dried chilies on hand, so I added a few to the brine water. The chiles were Ancho, I believe, but any sort will work. Of course, this is optional!
I just chopped off the ends, shook out the seeds, and dropped them into the water. The recipe calls for warm water, but I used boiling water to help extract extra flavor from the dried chilies.
Next, add your other brine ingredients and mix.
Place your turkey breast in the large oven roasting bag – you can find these near the foil and plastic food wrap in the grocery store – and enlist some help to pour the marinade into the bag.
If you don’t have a helper nearby, you could ladle the brine into the bag without too much trouble.
Then just tie off the bag and place it in an extra large bowl.
Here comes the easy part … put the bowl into the fridge for 6 hours or overnight. You can turn it over and around a few times, but if you seal your bag without too much air, your turkey should be getting a nice, thorough bath in the brine.
When you’re ready to grill, take a look at the instructions for using indirect heat in your grill. Every grill is different. We have two grills and one requires a ceramic disk to grill indirectly. The other grill, a Holland, is a special grill that always uses indirect heat. So I used the Holland, which was perfect for this meal.
While the grill is heating up, pull the turkey out of the brine and discard the brine. Pat the bird dry with a couple paper towels. By now, it has soaked up some juicy delicious flavor from the brine.
Now melt 6 tablespoons butter in a small pan and add 4 teaspoons of chipotle or regular chili powder. This is a beautiful orange-red color that makes for a beautiful grilled turkey breast. You’ll see …
Now, place your turkey on the grill and, after 15 minutes, brush generously with the chili butter. The small amount of grilling before brushing seems to create a dry palette that the chili butter adheres to nicely.
Close the grill and continue cooking, turning and basting occasionally. I used a large pair of tongs to turn my turkey every time I basted and it worked well.
My husband, our primary griller, wasn’t even home at this point so I was feeling pretty good about how all this was going! As I basted every 30 minutes or so, the color became more and more gorgeous.
After 90 minutes, I inserted a grill thermometer to keep track of when the turkey reached 170°. To get the most accurate temperature reading, place the thermometer into the center of the fleshiest part of the breast, making sure not to touch a bone. Next to the bone, the temperature may be higher than in the center of the breast.
Wow! I was amazed at the beautiful color. My husband arrived just as the turkey made it to 170° and was ready for carving. Just in time to behold my wonderful work!
We let the turkey set for a few minutes while we got the table ready. Joe carved the bird and it smelled delicious.
The golden red-orange color seemed to welcome fall and winter, and was beautiful on the plate with our assorted peppers and basil pesto on baguette slices.
A perfect way to celebrate the close of a wonderful grilling season and to get ready for winter and indoor cooking. Before we know it, we’ll be grilling again! If you’re lucky enough to still have warm weather, be sure to try this Brined Chipotle Turkey Breast before your grilling season ends.
Check back in a few days when Amanda makes Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding.
Liz is paid to write for the Land O'Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.