Charcoal-Grill-Roasted Turkey Breast

Published September 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.

Why this recipe works:

Grill-roasting a turkey breast makes a nice change from the same old oven-roasted holiday bird. And unleashing the smoky fire of the grill on mild-mannered turkey breast is bound to add great flavor. The problem is that unlike fatty pork butt or brisket, which turns moist and tender after a… read more

Grill-roasting a turkey breast makes a nice change from the same old oven-roasted holiday bird. And unleashing the smoky fire of the grill on mild-mannered turkey breast is bound to add great flavor. The problem is that unlike fatty pork butt or brisket, which turns moist and tender after a stint on the grill, ultra-lean turkey breast easily dries out. Plus its irregular shape can lead to uneven cooking. We wanted to develop a recipe that would deliver a grill-roasted breast with all the richness and juiciness we associate with the thighs and legs, along with crisp, well-rendered skin, and meat that was moist all the way through. We began by salting our turkey breast. Salting, much like brining, imparts flavor and moisture to the meat. When meat is salted, its juices are initially drawn out of the flesh and beads of liquid pool on its surface. Eventually, the salty liquid slowly migrates back into the meat, keeping it moist as it cooks. We grill-roasted the turkey breast over a modified two-level fire, starting the meat over the cool side of the grill and later moving it to the hot side to finish cooking. Although most of the meat turned out moist and flavorful, there were still desiccated spots on the tapered ends of the breast and in places where the skin didn’t completely cover the meat. Inspired by a restaurant technique, we reshaped our turkey breast like a roulade so that it would cook through evenly. After carefully removing the skin, we rolled the boneless turkey breast into a tight cylinder. Then we rewrapped the skin around the roulade of meat to completely cover and protect it. Our roast held its shape beautifully on the grill and, once carved, the roulade revealed moist, evenly cooked meat and crisp skin.

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Serves 6 to 8

Make sure to purchase a 5 1/2 to 7 pound turkey breast; anything larger may require that additional coals be added to the grill to keep the temperature high enough. When brining, use a container that rises at least 4 inches above the turkey once the breast is placed inside. This way, the brine can completely cover the turkey. If you are buying a frozen turkey breast, be sure to buy the turkey 3 days ahead; it takes 2 days to defrost in the refrigerator and should be brined overnight before grill-roasting.

Ingredients

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