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Apple Cider Turkey Breast, Cranberry Sauce and Butternut Squash with Sage Butter

Cider-brined turkey breast stars as the centerpiece of this turkey dinner. Serve with wilted spinach or sautéed kale alongside.


For the brine:

  • 4 cups apple cider (1 quart)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • A small handful of sage leaves
  • A small handful of thyme sprigs
  • A handful of parsley
  • 1 large shallot or small onion, quartered
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 orange, sliced

For the turkey breast:

  • 7-8 pounds fresh turkey breast
  • A few handfuls of apple or hickory wood chips (optional)
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper

For the butternut squash and cranberry sauce:

  • 1 large butternut squash, halved, seeded and cut into slices 1/2-inch thick (skin left on)
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 bag fresh cranberries (12 ounces)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 24 sage leaves


For the brine, heat the ingredients in a saucepot to dissolve the sugar and salt, then cool completely.

Place the turkey in 2.5-gallon sealable plastic bag and add the brine. Let rest for several hours, preferably overnight.

If cooking on an outdoor grill or smoker, soak the wood chips. For a smoker, add the chips to charcoal briquettes or make a foil pouch for a gas grill. If using a conventional oven, set turkey on a metal rack placed over a rimmed baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 325ºF. Heat a smoker or grill to 300ºF-325ºF.

Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry. Rub the skin with oil and season with ground pepper. Smoke or roast, 15 minutes per pound.

For the squash, pre-heat the oven to 425ºF.

Arrange the squash on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and roast the slices for 25-30 minutes, until golden.

Boil the cranberries with sugar, a pinch of salt and 1 cup of water until they burst. Transfer to a dish and cool to room temperature.

Melt the butter. When it foams, fry the sage leaves to crisp, remove to drain, then chop. Brown the butter until nutty and fragrant. Turn the squash in the brown butter and top with sage.

Serve the sliced smoked turkey with the cranberry sauce and squash and wilted spinach or sautéed kale alongside.

Rachael Ray