Thanksgiving Turkey Alternative | Brandy-Brined Turkey Breast

Thanksgiving Turkey

With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, for some people, another oven-roasted turkey or deep-fried turkey may have them screaming for the hills. Two years ago, I tasted deep-fried turkey and it was DELICIOUS! I was so used to the oven version, I didn't think that there was another way to serve turkey.

This year you too might be in the mood for something different - I was two years ago. So what are you options when it comes to turkey, aside from a Turduckin (turkey + duck)? How about a turkey marinated in Brandy?

Yeah, I thought that would get your attention. 

Turkey, especially the white meat is not an easy bird to flavor. It needs lots of seasoning and in my opinion, slow cooking is always best. So updating this traditional bird is a task. Well, now you know cognac or brandy is not just for drinking. Added to the right meat and Voila! instant hit. But before you start brining, take a minute to learn about how to choose the right brandy for your meat and since I'm not a brandy or cognac connoisseur, I found a site which breakdown which type works best for cooking. I guess not all brandys are created equal. 

Cooking with Cognac and Brandy

Check out for this great post about cognac vs. brandy with cooking.

Back to our turkey dish, what ingredients do you need?


          For the brined turkey
  • 2 quarts boiling water (1.9 liters)
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt (190 g)
  • 2 teaspoons pink curing salt (9 g), optional
  • 2 quarts ice water (1.9 liters)
  • 1/2 cup brandy or Cognac (120 ml)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 strips tangerine or orange zest (don’t fret on the size)
  • 1 whole turkey breast (5 to 6 pounds or 2.3 to 2.7 kg) , skin on, boned, rolled, and tied
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry or other hardwood chips, soaked for 30 minutes, then drained

    For the tangerine glaze
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (120 ml)
  • 1/2 cup fresh tangerine juice, from 3 tangerines (120 ml)
  • 1/3 cup honey (113 g)
  • 3 tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil (45 ml)
  • 5 strips tangerine zest (1/2 inch or 12 mm each)
  • 3 garlic cloves (about 14 g), peeled and lightly crushed with the side of a cleaver
  • 3 scallions, white parts only (about 2 ounces or 60 g), trimmed, lightly crushed with the side of a cleaver
  • 3 slices fresh ginger (1/4 inch or 6 mm thick each (about 15 g total), peeled and lightly crushed with the side of a cleaver
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches or 8 cm)
  • 1 star anise (optional)
I would definitely suggest doing a trial run before serving this at Thanksgiving. And of course because of the alcohol content, this recipe IS NOT for the kids. So if you're leaning towards making this substitute, have a smaller bird for the children. 

Check out the complete how-to, HERE.

Have a favorite alternative to the Thanksgiving turkey, send me the complete recipe and steps to

Original recipe: Adapted from Steve Raichlen | Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades | Workman, 2017. Posted by:  | photo by Matthew Benson 

Happy Planning!

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