Monday, December 5, 2011

Grilled Turkey Breast

I know.  You just got over your turkey overdose.  Why in the world would I be making turkey now?  Because I didn't get to at Thanksgiving. 

Normally I like to brine my poultry but this breast was one of those "packaged with up to X% with a solution" so it was already pre-brined so brining it was not an option.  Instead I came up with an injection to build flavor. 
charcoal grilled turkey breast

This turned out to be my favorite injection I have come up with for turkey and the family readily agreed.  The clarified butter has a cleaner texture, the infused herbs bring the flavor, and the sweet agave comes through in the final product. 

Turkey Injection
servings:  1 cup, enough for 1 turkey breast

  • 3/4 cup clarified butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup Agave Amber Nectar

  1. Heat clarified butter to simmering.
  2. Add the garlic cloves, sage leaves, thyme, and peppercorns and poach for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove and reserve the sage and thyme.  Discard the garlic and pepper corns.
  4. Add the wine, Agave nectar, and salt.  Stir to mix.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before using.
Note:  Our local grocery store carries Agave Nectar.  If you can't find it, you could substitute honey and a little brown sugar.  But agave has much better flavor, in my opinion.

Grilled Turkey Breast
Servings:  6-8

    • bone in, skin on turkey breast
    • 1 cup turkey injection
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • Sage and thyme reserved from cooking the injection.

    1. Preheat your grill to 325 - 350f set up for indirect heat.  I was using a Smoke Hollow combo grill with 40 lit briquettes divided to each side with drip pans in the middle.  See pictures below for example.
    2. Inject the turkey in several areas with the injection from inside the rib cage (the back side of the breast).  [For tips on injecting, see Five Tips:  Injecting Meat]
    3. Make a rub with the salt, paprika, pepper, thyme and sage.  The thyme and sage should crumble easily.
    4. Rub the breasts over and under the skin.
    5. Place the breast on the grill over the drip pan, skin side facing up.  Grill for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the breast reaches an internal temperature of 155 to 160f.  Add a half dozen or so briquettes to each side occasionally as needed to maintain the grill temperature at 325 to 350f.  
    6. Allow to rest 15 minutes before slicing.
    • I used Kingsford Briquettes with Hickory (green bag) to get a little smoke flavor.
    • Here's my time/temps chart.  [Update]  The grill temps listed were actual temps, not my target temperatures.  I was trying to hold a temp of 325f, which is much easier in my Eggs.

    Time Internal Temp Grill Temp Notes
    0 46f 325f Started with 20 lit coals on each side of a dripping pan
    15 min 48f 300f Added 8 unlit coals per side
    30 min 61f 340f

    45 min 84f 320f Added 8 coals left side, 4 coals right side
    1 hr 97f 320f

    1 hr 15 m 120f 300f Added 12 coals left side, 8 coals right side
    1 hr 30 m 134f 325f

    1 hr 45 m 145f 350f

    2 hr 156f 315f Removed turkey from grill
    Poaching the garlic and herbs in butter draws out their flavor.

    Kingsford with Hickory adds a kiss of smoke.

    Injecting from the rib side (inside) avoids tearing and poking holes in the skin.

    Indirect set up, coals pushed to the side to create a void, above which rests the meat.

    Look how juicy!  I carve off half the breast and then slice that on a cutting board.

    This disappeared quickly but I did manage to save some scraps for KY Hot Browns today.

    Don't forget to entry the Drapers BBQ Gift Pack giveaway HERE.

    [Standard Disclaimer]  I receive no compensation for this post from any of the brand names listed.


    1. oh man, talk about taking turkey to the next level! delicious!

    2. oh my gosh, you truly have mastered turkey. I now want one of those injectors for myself!

    3. That turkey looks perfect and mosit,Chris!The injection sounds delicious...and full of flavor.

    4. That turkey looks so moist and delicious. The flavor injection is such a great idea!

    5. Looks delicious, Chris. I love the injection recipe you came up with. I have been looking for Agave syrup locally... gotta get my hands on some. It's showing up in more and more recipes lately.

      Also, I've not tried the Kingsford Hickory yet, and this looks like a great excuse to get some, because I, too, didn't get to cook a turkey for the holidays yet, and I love a smoked turkey breast. Thanks for the great post.

    6. I'm almost ashamed to say that I still have not tried the injection method yet! Must rectify that soon! The turkey breast looks fantastic.. and the flavors sound amazing.

    7. I rarely inject and probably just need to practice, but the couple of times I tried turkey, I ended up with pockets of flavor. Yours looks prefect - great skin color, and moist meat and I can imagine how flavorful the injection made it. I don't believe I've ever seen a non-enhanced turkey breast in the store.

    8. I should have paid better attention to math and science when I was in school. On the other hand, I'll just stick my turkey breast in the oven and say several "hail Marys" over it.

    9. Thank you for reminding me that I meant to look for an injection thingy.

    10. StephenC, I'm with you...who knew that this was so scientific?!

    11. Maybe I should try to convince my parents they need to make another turkey so that I can practice giving injections....that IS what this post is trying to tell me, right?

    12. That looks great. Agave syrup is one of my new favorite ingredients. It is sweeter than traditional sugar.

    13. Man that looks good. I smoked a 13 pound turkey on thanks given this year and it turned out wonderful. Now I'm hooked.

    14. That looks way better than the turkey we had...I demand a do-over!

    15. Grilled turkey breast has been on my to do list for a long time and I just couldn't "get into it".
      I'm now properly inspired and can cheat and copy you. Looks great.
      (I wonder what a 5 year old would do if I came at him with that injector in the office... Just thinking...)

    16. I never had a grilled turkey before! That looks absolutely incredible and I love hot browns! So jealous right now.

    17. This is the only part of the turkey that I like.
      Yours came out looking delicious. Great explanation.



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