In a large Dutch oven, add 1/2 cup salt, brown sugar, water, thyme, sage, bay leaves, peppercorns and lemon peel. Bring to a simmer just to dissolve the sugar and salt. Turn off the heat. Stir in the cold buttermilk and lemon juice. Add the turkey breasts. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before you’re ready to cook and allow to come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pour enough neutral oil into a large Dutch oven to fill 1/3 of the way up the sides of the pot. Heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees F.
Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, paprika, 1 tablespoon salt and poultry seasoning in a large bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of the buttermilk brine a little at a time to make small clumps.
When the oil is at 350 degrees F, remove the turkey breasts from the brine and dredge well in the flour mixture. Carefully add to the oil. (The oil temperature will drop initially, you want it to settle at about 330 degrees, so adjust the heat accordingly.) Cook, turning occasionally, until the coating is crisp and deeply browned and the internal temperature of the turkey is about 160 degrees F, 15 to 18 minutes depending on the size. (If you have larger size turkey breasts and they are brown before they are cooked through, you can finish for a few minutes in the oven at 350 degrees F .)
Remove the fried turkey to a cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Let the turkey cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes.
While still hot, sprinkle with the sumac, flaky salt and lemon zest.
Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
To serve, slice the turkey into thick slices against the grain. Serve with the cranberry mayo on the side.
Yield:Makes about 1 cup
In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, lemon juice and a healthy grinding of black pepper.
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