Brining Adds Taste To Turkey

Brining is a popular method to help add flavor and maintain moisture in your whole turkey and it is mostly used around Thanksgiving, but Chef Bobby Flay says brining turkey breast meat you put in the barbecue can result in a much more flavorful, tender meat.

On The Early Show, he demonstrates how to make Brined Grilled Turkey Breast with Red Chile Rub and Green Onion Vinaigrette and Grilled Zucchini Succotash.

While traditional brining was meant to preserve meat, the purpose of flavor brining is to improve the taste, texture, and moisture content of lean cuts of meat. This is achieved by soaking the meat in a moderately salty solution for a few hours to a few days. Flavor brining also provides a temperature cushion during cooking. If you happen to overcook the meat a little, it still will be moist.

At a minimum, flavor brine consists of water and salt. Other ingredients may include sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, fruit juices, beer, liquor, bay leaves, pickling spices, cloves, garlic, onion, chilies, citrus fruits, peppercorns, and other herbs and spices.

As for the succotash, it is a dishof lima beans and corn. But, of course, Flay's has a twist. His recipe calls for summer zucchini, which is just coming into season now.

The following are his recipes:

Brined Grilled Turkey Breast with Red Chile Rub and Green Onion Vinaigrette and Grilled Zucchini Succotash
Serves: 4

2 quarts cold water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 boneless turkey breast, 3-4 lbs
1/4 cup ancho chile powder
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Vegetable oil


  1. Place water in a large bowl or plastic container. Whisk in salt and sugar and let sit 5 minutes to dissolve. Add the turkey breast, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.
  2. Stir together the ancho powder, brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon and black pepper in small bowl.
  3. Heat grill to high. Remove turkey from the brining solution and rinse well under cold water and pat dry. Rub the skin side of the turkey with the rub. Using tongs, dip paper towels into the oil and oil the grates of the grill.
  4. Place the turkey on the grill, rub-side down, and grill until slightly charred and a crust has formed, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce the heat of the grill to medium. Turn the turkey over and continue cooking, with the lid closed for 30-40 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the breast registers 155 degrees.
  5. Remove from the heat, loosely tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Slice into 1/2-inch thick slices and drizzle with green onion vinaigrette.

Green Onion Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup chopped green onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
  • Blend vinegar, water, onion and cilantro, salt and pepper in a blender until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil.
Click on page 2 for Grilled Zucchini Succotash recipe.

Grilled Zucchini Succotash
Serves: 4

3 zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup blanched fresh lima beans, or thawed frozen lima beans
Kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn
1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 plum tomato, seeded, halved and finely diced
1 grilled poblano chile, peeled, seeded and diced
1 grilled jalapeno, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup crumbled Queso Fresco cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro


  1. Heat grill to high. Brush the cut side of the zucchini with the oil, and season each half with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Grill flesh-side down until lightly golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Turn over and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 4-5 minutes longer. Remove from the grill and cut into small dice.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan on the grates of the grill. Add the onion and cook until soft.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the lima beans, corn and stock, heavy cream and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, chiles, grilled zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, remove from the grill and fold in the cheese and cilantro.

To serve: Divide the turkey breast evenly amongst the plates, serve with some of the succotash, and drizzle some of the onion vinaigrette over the turkey breast.