Way back when I was a nascent food blogger (of a now defunct blog more embarrassing to look at than middle school photos), only just discovering the wonderful world of culinary media, I was a member of Daring Bakers. It was an amazing community that pushed me to try things I had yet to make like flourless chocolate cake and tuiles (neither of which are nearly as intimidating now as they were then). But then I got a job – my dream job, where I professionally lived and breathed food – and my blog fell to the wayside, along with my membership to Daring Bakers. You can imagine my excitement when I began blogging again to see that not only was Daring Bakers still around (and my, how it has grown!), but they had expanded to Daring Cooks. Now there’s something I could really get into.
So after a many year hiatus, I’m back in the Daring community and excited to be taking part in my first Daring Cooks challenge. Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry. As an aside, you may recognize Simply Cooked as the founder of the awesome Kitchen Reader online book club I recently joined. But back to the challenge, how fun is this?
Sarah provided three possible recipes we could try, which all looked amazing: tea eggs (which I’ve always kind of wanted to make), a lovely green tea and tofu soup, and a tempting stew. But I started to look up recipes and got a little over excited. I considered Tea-Soaked Chicken, Green Tea Teriyaki Chicken, and Green Tea Rice from here and here before settling on this Oolong-Brined Turkey Breast. It’s from a book called Culinary Tea by Cynthia Gold and Lisa Stern (who knew there were so many tea cookbooks?!), much of which is available for free preview on Google Books.
I settled on this recipe because I knew I wanted to use Oolong tea. My wonderful friend Beth brought me back Da Hong Pao tea from her trip to China this summer, and a bit of research told me that this is one of the most renowned Chinese teas and one of the most special kinds of oolong tea available. I had never thought to use tea as a marinade, but what a brilliant idea. It imparts a lovely, delicate flavor to the meat.
The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of salt as well to make this a brine instead of a marinade, but in Israel our kosher birds are already plenty salty. I don’t believe the turkey breast needs the salt as the marinade is flavorful enough on its own, but use your judgement. Know your meat.
This would make a lovely addition to the Thanksgiving table, something a little simpler – and different – than roasting an entire turkey. I roasted sweet potatoes in the pan alongside the turkey for a festive, filling one-pot meal.
- 2 quarts water
- ¼ cup loose oolong tea leaves
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ½ tablespoon mustard seeds
- 2 star anise
- 1 (4- to 6- pound/1.8- to 2.7-kilogram) boneless turkey breast
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Heat the water in a large pot or saucepan until steaming but not quite boiling. Add the tea and brown sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the peppercorns, ginger, cloves, mustard seeds, and star anise.
- Remove from the heat and allow the marinade cool to room temperature (be sure it is cool before adding the turkey - you don't want to cook it. If you're in a rush put it in the fridge.).
- Put the turkey breast in a large bowl and pour the marinade over (or, to save dishes, add the turkey breast to the pot).
- Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
- When ready to roast the turkey, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the turkey breast and sear until golden-brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- Remove the turkey from the pan and place it on a rack in a roasting pan.
- Bake until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F/70°C on an instant-read thermometer. The time required for this will depend on the weight of the breast, roughly 15 minutes per pound/455 grams, or 60 to 90 minutes.
- Remove the turkey from the oven. Allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.
Linked up at Tastetastic Thursdays over at A Little Nosh