Published July 1, 2009.
Cooking a lean, delicate turkey breast over the intense heat of a grill is asking for trouble. Could an old-fashioned restaurant technique save the day?
Unlike fatty pork butt or brisket, which turn moist and tender after a stint on the grill, ultra-lean turkey breast easily dries out. Plus there’s the matter of its irregular shape (thick on one end and tapered on the other) that can lead to uneven cooking.
We wanted a grill-roasted breast with all the richness and juiciness usually associated with thighs and legs, along with crisp, well-rendered skin and meat moist all the way through.
We started with a whole bone-in, skin-on breast and pulled the skin off before removing the breasts from the bone. We also sprinkled them with salt to ensure the meat would remain moist as it cooked. Next, we arranged the breasts so that the thick end of one was pressed against the tapered end of the other, creating an even thickness throughout. We then draped a large piece of skin around the meat, leaving no areas uncovered save for a narrow seam on the underside. We secured the package with twine, coated the skin lightly with vegetable oil, and proceeded to the grill. Grill-roasting typically requires a modified two-level fire, in which all the coals are pushed to one side of the grill to create two temperature zones. We started by cooking the breast slowly on the cooler side of the grill until its internal temperature reached 150 degrees. By this time, the meat was moist, and though its skin was not yet crisp, most of its fat had rendered. A quick sear on the hotter side of the grill took care of the skin, and after resting, the breast reached the ideal serving temperature. With our basic recipe established, we played around with flavorings. Sprinkling wood chips over the hot coals lent a touch of smokiness to the mild meat. We also came up with a fresh herb butter to slather onto the breasts before tying.list of recipes