Smoke-roasted turkey breast

Fresh, bone-in turkey is abundant in good supermarkets & butcher shops during the year-end holidays…I especially like bone-in breasts for the high yield, low mess, and overall flavor.  I found split breasts a few days ago, which cook a bit faster than whole ones; a half-breast yields just enough turkey for two or three meals (so no suffering through a week of all-turkey-leftovers, a fate grim enough to make an otherwise sane person loathe turkey).  So after a much-needed thorough vacuuming of my Big Green Egg, I set out to smoke-roast some turkey.

Smoke-roasting is exactly what it sounds like:  a combination of light smoking and medium-heat roasting.  The technique is great for poultry, as the leaner birds absorb far more smoke than beef or pork.  (I often find smoked turkey tasting unpleasantly woody.)  A handful of applewood chips (or try cherry or pecan) sprinkled atop a charcoal fire will provide 15-20 minutes of flavoring smoke, then the turkey can continue to roast, smoke-free, until it reaches the desired temperature (around 175 degrees, to my taste, plus resting time).

Prior to roasting, I rubbed the turkey with a blend of 1 teaspoon sea salt, 3 teaspoons herbes de provence, 2 teaspoons finely grated meyer lemon zest, and beaucoup freshly ground cracked pepper (I just cranked the grinder ’til my arm got tired), all mixed with enough olive oil to make a paste.  The seasoned breast roasted at 350 for roughly 90 minutes, then it rested 20-25 minutes before slicing.

Some of the leftovers transmogrified into turkey tetrazzini, others into turkey sandwiches on walnut whole wheat bread.  A nubbin still hangs on–it will probably end up as turkey salad.

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4 thoughts on “Smoke-roasted turkey breast

  1. That is a gorgeous looking breast! Perfectly cooked without being overcooked.

    Once the cooking temps get up a bit and I’m still cooking indirect, I never know whether to call it “smoke roasted”, “wood fire roasted”, or “high temp smoked”.

    • Hmmm…I generally call higher-temp smoking “smoke roasting”…..I’d probably only call it wood-fire roasted if I started with hardwood rather than lump charcoal. When I think of wood-fire cooking, it’s a live fire inside a brick oven, or direct cooking over an open flame, rather than coals.

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