I love turkey. A lot. In fact, it’s pretty much a year-round item for me, not just around the holidays. A lot of times I just like to purchase a bone-in turkey breast. It’s much easier to handle and cook, and I prefer it for sandwiches and snacks. However, as we all know turkey breasts have a tendency to be dry. Proper cooking techniques can rectify a good bit of the dryness, but I’ve also developed a good injection recipe that adds flavor and moisture to the meat. My recipe for Ghee Injected Turkey Breast will have you cooking them more often throughout the year!
What is Ghee?
Ghee, a staple in Indian cuisine, is very similar to clarified butter. Regular butter burns very easily when cooking because of the milk solids in the butter. When you “clarify butter,” you melt it and then scoop out the milk solids. The result is clarified butter, which has a much higher smoke point than regular butter and can be used to even fry foods. Now, cook a bit longer so the clarified butter gains a bit of a nutty flavor, and you have ghee. You can purchase ghee, or make it yourself. It makes for a wonderful cooking oil and I use it often.
Adding ghee to the injection will provide a nutty, buttery note to the turkey. But also, the fats in the ghee will help keep everything moist and juicy.
Why a turkey breast
From an economic standpoint, purchasing a stand-alone bone-in turkey breast usually costs almost as much as purchasing a whole turkey. However, for a smaller gathering, or just a quick cook for sandwich meat and snacks, you just can’t beat buying a turkey breast by itself. I look for sales and will purchase several and leave in the freezer. For me, the space savings, the ease of cooking, and the higher yield you get from a turkey breast more than make up any cost differential. By injecting them, I also get a moist, delicious turkey breast that can make meals for several days.
For this recipe, I seasoned the turkey breast with my Garlic Blend and Lucky 7 Seasoning. It gave the turkey a wonderful flavor and results in a beautiful color. To keep your turkey from darkening, wrap in foil when the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees, or the color you want is achieved. I pull the turkey breast when the internal temperature is 160, then let it rest and ensure the temp goes to above 165 degrees.
There’s no substitute for proper cooking times and temperatures
People erroneously believe that turkey is bound to be dry. It really doesn’t have to be if you cook it right. This injection recipe will help, as well as adding flavor. However, no amount of brining or injecting will save a poorly cooked bird. First, control your temperature in your smoker. Large fluctuations won’t help things. Secondly, have a good meat thermometer. Cook poultry to the safe zone (165) and pull it (I pull a few degrees early and let it rest to the safe temp.) Overcooking is over-drying. Third, and most importantly for BBQ folks, poultry doesn’t need “low and slow.” Turkey, and poultry in general, doesn’t have the connective tissue and collagens that pork and beef have. You don’t need to transform poultry from super-tough to mouth tender. You just need to get it cooked properly, so I cook poultry at higher temperatures- 275 is my go-to number.
About that Thermometer
I have always used thermometers. After decades of cooking BBQ professionally, I can tell by looks and touch when meat is properly done, yet I still use thermometers. First, I want to be exact. Everything has a range at when it will be perfectly cooked. I want to know exactly when that is reached. Secondly, it’s a heck of a lot easier to look at my phone and tell what temperature my meat is at than to have to open smokers and go prodding around with fingers and temperature probes. So, I’m super pleased to announce a partnership with MEATER thermometers. They are simply the best wireless thermometers available. I was an original purchaser back when they were on Kickstarter, and I’ve been a fan since then. They will tell you the internal temp, the cooker temp, and give you an idea of the cook time remaining. And, they’re always focused on improving, which is a big deal to me.
Need other turkey help?
- Meat injector
- 1/4 cup ghee
- 3/4 cup chicken stock low sodium
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup crushed ice
- 1 TBS Melissa's Garlic Blend Seasoning
- 1 TBS Melissa's Lucky 7 seasoning
- Add all ingredients except ice to small saucepan and bring to a simmer while whisking. Add ice to cool down, and then pour into a blender. Pulse for 15 seconds.
- Trying not to pierce the skin more than once in each breast, inject 2-3 ml/spot, trying to cover as much of the breast as possible. Go from under the skin when possible.
- Prepare a smoker to run at 275 degrees. Use a small number of wood chunks, such as apple or pecan.
- Season turkey breast with Garlic Blend seasoning and Lucky 7 Seasoning, or your favorite seasoning blends. Place on the smoker.
- When turkey breast reaches 130 degrees, wrap breast in foil. Cook until it reaches 160 degrees, then remove from the smoker and allow to rest. Monitor breast to ensure it cooks above 165 degrees.