This Thanksgiving, I give thanks to Zuni Café culinary goddess, Judy Rodgers, for turning me on to dry salt curing.
I had wet brined poultry and pork for years before trying the salt curing process Chef Rodgers describes in The Zuni Café Cookbook.
To compare the two methods, I conducted several tests, and to my palate, salt-curing wins. Although both methods have advantages, you just can’t beat salt-curing for ease and juiciness of the cooked meat.
However, I discovered a caveat later. My tests involved only three ingredients: salt, sugar, and water. For the dry cured tests, I used salt only. For the wet brined tests, I used salt, sugar, and water to cover.
What I had not considered was the effect of swapping water for apple cider or other flavorful liquid. Apple Cider-Brined Tenderloin of Pork with Rhubarb Deglazing Sauce is a case in point. Imagine pork tenderloin infused with the flavor of apple cider. Dry curing won’t produce that result.
So now, I choose the technique based on the effect I am going for. Both techniques produce amazing, yet slightly different, results.
Because turkey is humungous, I almost always choose to dry cure it. It’s easier, requires less room in the frig, and produces excellent results.
But for a breast of turkey, the options are wide open.
I decided to try a salt and pepper cure combined with an herb paste rub. As expected, the texture and flavor are out of this world.
Dry-Cured Breast of Turkey Roulade with Autumn Herbs
You will love this festive turkey roulade, slathered with a zippy fresh herb and mustard paste. Pretty on the plate, this is an great choice for a small Thanksgiving gathering.
one whole breast of turkey, skin, tendons, and fat removed
coarse sea salt in a grinder
black pepper in a grinder
Autumn Herb Paste
1½ ounces fresh herbs: equal amounts of rosemary, thyme, and sage, stems removed (¾ ounce trimmed)
1 ounce fresh parsley, stems removed (¼ ounce trimmed)
4 cloves garlic, peeled, and minced or pressed
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- To make the herb paste, in a processor fitted with the steel knife, mince the rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, lemon zest, and garlic until very fine. Add the mustard and pulse to combine. Then with the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and add the salt to taste. Reserve. (Makes ½ cup herb paste.)
- On a sheet of foil, lay the two breast halves, top-side-down, side-by-side lengthwise, overlapping the touching sides slightly.
- Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the breast halves and using a mallet, flatten the thick portions slightly to an even depth. Remove the plastic wrap.
- Grind salt and pepper liberally over the joined breast halves, and then spread the Autumn Herb Paste evenly over the flesh, leaving ½-inch of one long side clear of paste.
- Roll the roast lengthwise and tie at 1-inch intervals with kitchen twine.
Wrap in plastic wrap and frig for 1-3 days.
- In a large sauté pan, heat oil and sauté roast to brown all sides. This will
take about 15 minutes.
- Transfer roast to an edged baking sheet or roasting pan, and roast at 375°
until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast reads
165, about 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15
- To serve, cut into crosswise slices.
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Copyright 2012 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.