For Turkey Breast With A Ham-Like Quality, Brine It In Sugar

Ham has a fleshy, sweet taste that's often hard to replicate with other kinds of meat. It makes sandwiches, pizzas, and casseroles much more flavorful, and when you can't eat it, it feels like nothing else will do the trick. If you avoid eating ham for health, religious, or personal reasons, all you need is a little sugar and some turkey breast for a similar taste.

Ham is much more succulent than turkey, a bird known for its deceptively juicy skin and dry flesh. While turkey certainly has a reputation for being a hard meat to make tender, it's not totally irredeemable — sugar can revive it. At times, the sweet granules could be the reason why smoked turkey legs at the fair taste like pork. Sugar is an excellent tenderizer for meat and can caramelize your turkey breast as well.

In the oven, sugar browns and oxidizes, giving the turkey breast that golden, crispy skin that's associated with a great cut of smoked ham. Wet brining turkey infuses it with moisture and a sumptuous, sweet flavor. Add water to a shallow pot and sprinkle in salt and plenty of sugar (white works fine, but brown sugar has a richer flavor). Stir the water until the granules dissolve, then add fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme. You can also add a few slices of fresh lemons and oranges for a citrusy boost. Place the turkey in the fridge and leave it for 24 hours before roasting.

Can you dry brine turkey with sugar?

Wet brines work to infuse turkey with moisture and flavor quickly, but some people prefer a dry brine since it's a mess-free method and gives the turkey a stronger flavor. It's possible to dry brine a turkey with sugar, but it's important that salt is present since it'll be doing more of the heavy lifting. The mineral works to pull moisture from the turkey, which gives the poultry a juicy finish. The sugar is really there to balance out the flavors and provide the delicious caramelization that makes turkey breast akin to ham.

For an easy way to dry brine turkey, mix the sugar and salt together along with some dried herbs and spices. Pat the turkey dry and rub the brine mix onto the turkey, making sure to coat every inch of the skin. To get the most flavor, you'll need to let your turkey sit for a minimum of 24 hours, but you can definitely aim for longer. If you do, encase it in plastic wrap or cheesecloth to prevent moisture loss. The method works well for roasted and smoke-brined turkey since the bird remains dry the whole time, leading to crispier skin for the finished product.