Even if you are only serving the turkey to a small group, it is great to have leftovers for sandwiches. Briefly boiling the thyme and black pepper in water extracts the flavor and helps infuse the brine. If the turkey starts to brown too fast, shield with aluminum foil. Serve with mashed red potatoes and roasted baby carrots.
7 cups water, divided
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
6 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups ice cubes
1 (6-pound) whole bone-in turkey breast, skinned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)
How to Make It
Combine 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons pepper, and thyme sprigs in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Add remaining 6 cups water, salt, honey, and sugar, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour salt mixture into a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag. Add ice and turkey; seal. Refrigerate 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally. Remove turkey from bag, and discard brine. Pat turkey dry with paper towels.
Rub turkey with oil. Combine 1 tablespoon pepper and chopped thyme; rub over turkey.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Place the turkey on a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until thermometer inserted into thickest portion of the breast registers 180°. Place turkey on a platter. Cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.