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A split turkey breast refers to a cut of turkey in which the breast portion of the bird is cut into two pieces for a smaller serving size. It is generally removed by cutting vertically down the breastbone of the turkey to make two halves. The bones may be left in or removed prior to packaging or cooking. Turkey breast is lean, white meat that is lower in fat compared to the dark meat of the legs, and may require a more careful cooking technique to ensure the meat does not dry out and become tough and flavorless.
Although a split turkey breast may be cooked as is without additional prep, it is often recommended to brine it to add more moisture and flavor to the white meat. Brining is a process in which a food item is soaked in a combination of water, salt, and preferred spices or seasonings, for a long period of time, often four hours up to overnight. The salt is generally considered to help draw out the natural moisture from the meat and help it better absorb the flavors of the spices or seasonings.
One of the most common ways of cooking a split turkey breast is roasting. Roasting tends to be thought of by many as one of the most basic methods of preparing turkey in general because it is mostly inactive and hands-off while the turkey is in the oven. Cooking the turkey breast in the oven helps give the skin a crispy texture and golden appearance. If it is roasted for even a small amount of time too long, the meat may become dried out quickly; therefore, it is often advised to use a meat thermometer to determine the internal temperature rather than relying on a recipe’s estimated cooking time. It is typically recommended to roast turkey until its internal temperature reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit (76.67 degrees Celsius) because it may continue to cook even after being removed from the oven.
Split turkey breast may also be cooked over high heat, such as by grilling or deep frying. Using high heat may make the meat more prone to drying out, so cooks often take additional measures beyond brining to add moisture. Oil or melted butter is often rubbed on the outside of the turkey, underneath the skin on the meat, or injected into the meat with a culinary syringe-like tool, to moisten the meat as it cooks. With these cooking methods, it is still generally recommended to ensure the meat reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit (76.67 degrees Celsius) before consuming.