At the end of last summer, my husband and I put 3 beautiful homegrown turkeys into our freezer. One large goal was to come up with some creative ideas to use the meat in ways other than the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. On my radar was the thought of creating my own version of Oven Roasted, Deli-Style Turkey Breast Lunch Meat.
I found numerous recipes online but they all seemed so complicated. They had varying degrees of oven temperatures, dry rubs, basting liquids and so on, taking more attention than I was willing to give. In an effort to reduce the turkey breast’s neediness while still keeping it flavorful and juicy, I turned to brine, olive oil and a single temperature cooking process.
IT STARTS WITH THE BRINE
While brining is nothing new, it’s rarely used in the average kitchen due to our rushed lives and lack of excess time. But, let me tell you this – it is worth it! Your socks will be blown off with the incredible flavor and juiciness of the finished product. My first experience was brining an entire Thanksgiving turkey and now I’ll never go back to anything else!
- 2 Quarts Cool Water
- 1/4 Cup Salt
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
- 1 Tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- 2 tsp Italian Seasoning Herbs
- 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flake
Mix all ingredients in a container large enough to hold the brine AND the meat you wish to process. I typically use a 2-gallon bucket with a lid or a large bowl covered with plastic wrap or foil. The meat needs to be totally submerged in the brine to soak up all the goodness. Refrigerate and allow your meat to brine for 24-48 hours minimum. I let mine soak for 4 days!
THEN COMES THE RUB
Once your brining time has elapsed you will be ready to prepare the meat for oven roasting. Taking a cue from store-bought deli meat, I created this Sun Dried Tomato Wet Rub to impart even more flavor into my turkey breast. Before whipping up the rub, set your oven to 275 degrees to preheat.
Sun Dried Tomato Wet Rub
- 1/4 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes
- 1/4 cup or handful of Fresh Basil
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- 2 Drops Liquid Smoke
- 1/4-1/2 cup Olive Oil
Combine all of the above ingredients into a blender or use an immersion blender to reduce everything to a slightly chunky, almost pesto consistency. Remove the meat from the brine and rub this mixture all over your turkey breast, into every nook and cranny! Wrap your newly seasoned breast tightly with foil and place in a bread loaf pan or similar.
BRING ON THE HEAT LOW & SLOW
The key to really juicy turkey is not only in the brine but also the manner in which you cook it. Low and slow is the key to retaining the flavors and moisture. Roast your turkey for 2 hours or until the internal temperature of your breast reaches 165 degrees.
Once complete, wrap the turkey breast (which probably has poke holes from the thermometer) in another layer of foil. Allow to rest 15-20 minutes at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.
A SLICE OF HEAVEN…ON A SANDWICH
If you have a rotary slicer then you are one step ahead of me! If not, then like me, use a sharp knife to slice your turkey against the grain, to the desired thickness. You’ll end up with plenty of flavorful lunch meat with NO fillers and NO ingredients you can’t pronounce. The final product does freeze well. However, this stuff is so good…it probably won’t last long!