A fresh and bright side dish that's perfectly matched with grilled meats.
Grilled turkey breast with Worcerstershire butter
This recipe uses the grill like a charcoal-flavored oven, to grill-roast the turkey nice and slowly to retain maximum juiciness.
A simple flavored butter plus the char-roasted flavor of the grill is all you need to create this delicious holiday-worthy meal. The Worcestershire butter helps lacquer the turkey skin to mahogany brown perfection, and imparts a perfectly savory buttery flavor.
How to choose the turkey breast meat for grilling:
Choosing the right meat is pretty crucial, because it affects your final cook time. There are a number of ways “turkey breast” are sold in grocery stores. These include: boneless half breast, whole bone-in breast with some wing and back sections, and boneless whole breast. It’s good to be aware that some meat sold as “boneless breast roast” can actually be made up of several large pieces of turkey breast meat, that are held together with netting. This is definitely not what you want for this recipe, so try to avoid that. I’ve had the most luck buying the bone-in breast with the extra sections, then carefully cutting off the double breast using a boning knife. Note that compared to the cook times in this recipe, bone-in will take longer to cook, and a half breast will have a shorter cook time. In both cases, the turkey should be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165f.
How do you know when to brine your turkey?
This is another REALLY important pro tip! Most turkey breasts are already enhanced with a water, salt and spice solution (essentially a pre-brine) to keep them juicy during cooking. If your turkey is enhanced it will say so on the packaging. In may also say something like “self basting” or “added water”. Just read the declaration at the front carefully, and the ingredients too, and you’ll quickly figure out if your turkey has been enhanced or not. If this is the case, you must skip the brine step. If you brine twice, you will end up with product that has an unpleasant mushy texture and is far too salty.
How important is using a charcoal grill?
Look, I know you might want a recipe that will tell you “hey, if you don’t have a grill, here’s how to make it in your instant pot” or, “it’s totally fine to make this in a propane grill too! Here’s how!”. But the truth is, sometimes the method is key to the final result. And that is certainly true with this recipe. I don’t believe it can be substituted. The point of roasting this on your grill is to get the unmistakable flavor that only comes from charcoal. I use Kingsford original briquets for all my grilling, because I know exactly how hot they will get and how long they will burn for. Consistency is key!
Set your grill up for turkey roasting success:
You’re going to want to set your grill up for two zone cooking. That means, you’re going to put your coals all to one side, creating a hot and a cool zone. You’re going to put a water pan on the indirect side, and this is what the turkey breast will sit above. This is the key to cooking your turkey to a safe internal temperature, AND letting the skin render to golden perfection without overcooking. The water pan also helps keep the cooking chamber nice and moist.
Take the guesswork out of doneness with a quality meat thermometer.
Turkey has a specific safe temperature it needs to be cooked to, which is 165f. Cooking past this temp is what can leave you with dry and pasty-textured meat. Why risk doing that?! The best tool you can own as a meat cook is a quality instant read meat thermometer. I use and recommend the Thermapen. That way, you can monitor the temperature as the turkey gets close to being done, and remove it at exactly the right time.
Grilled turkey breast with Worcerstershire butter
- Brine ingredients: 1 gallon cold water, 1 cup kosher salt, 1 cup brown sugar, 6-8 cloves, peel of one orange
- 1 x whole boneless turkey breast, about 6 lb.
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 4 oz salted butter (one stick)
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cups water
- To brine the turkey: place half the water in a saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Dissolve over low heat, and allow to cool completely. Add salted water to remaining water, then add the cloves and orange peel. Immerse the turkey breast and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
- Allow the butter to soften to room temperature. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the Worcestershire sauce, and stir to combine.
- Set up a grill for two zone or indirect cooking. Place a foil pan with 4 cups of water on one side of the grill, then light a half-chimney of coals and dump them on the other side of the grill, creating a hot and cool zone. The grill should be between 300-350f.
- Remove turkey breast and discard the brine. Pat the turkey dry on both sides using a paper towel, ensuring it is well dried. Season the under (non-skin) side with the remaining kosher salt, then turn the turkey over. Use 1/3 of the butter, and smear across the skin/top of the turkey breast in a thin coating. Place remaining butter in a small saucepan and melt over low heat for basting.
- Set the turkey over the water pan skin side up, with the thickest part of the breast facing towards the coals. Close lid and allow to cook.
- Maintain a grill temp of around 325f, adding more coals as needed to sustain heat. You can use 2-3 small chunks of wood to add extra smoke flavor, but it’s not recommended to add too much, as the smoke can cause excessive darkening of the skin.
- Baste the turkey with the remaining butter every 20 minutes during the cook, which should take 2-2.5 hours total.
- f you are developing browning on one side, you can gently turn the turkey during the cook to expose different sides to the coals and even out the color.
- The turkey is ready when it reads 165f in the thickest part of the breast. Remove it from the grill, cover loosely with foil and rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. You can also hold the turkey in a 200f oven until you are ready to eat, but be aware that this may slowly dry out the meat.
- Slice the breast down the middle to form two halves, then slice each half into serving size pieces.
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