Grilled Herb-Marinated Turkey “Flank Steak”
Turkey is overlooked and under-appreciated most of the year. Grilled turkey breast is a simple and ideal addition to your backyard barbecue repertoire. A boneless turkey breast is too thick to grill. The outside would become dry and charred before the interior cooked through. But by simply slicing a breast into “flank steaks” and giving it a good marinade, the turkey breast becomes both grill-worthy and grill-friendly.
There are several variables in grilling your turkey “flank steak.” These include how hot the grill – it should be medium-hot, and the variable thickness of the breast. It is very helpful to use an instant read thermometer. I live in a Center City Philadelphia apartment and do not have an outdoor grill. But I do have a grill pan and I am always prepared to grill — rain or shine. The photos in this recipe use my grill pan, but apply to your outdoor grill.
This recipes uses fresh tarragon. Tarragon has a particular affinity for turkey. But you could really use any fresh herb. You will need about the same amount of other fresh leafy herbs like basil or oregano, a bit less sage as sage is very strong and lots less fresh thyme. There are a dozen marinade recipes in At Home’s Chapter 9 — Easy Entrees: From the Grill and any of these will work. Take care when using a marinade with sugar as the long grilling time needed for the turkey could cause the marinade to burn. Try cooking over a more moderate heat or finish cooking turkey in a 350 degree oven once it is nicely charred on both sides on the grill. At Home also features a recipe for Grilled Turkey “Flank Steak” seasoned with mustard and soy — a Frog Commissary summertime staple — on Page 195.
Turkey also benefits from a condiment. See At Home’s Chapter 9: Cold Sauces & Condiments.
Do ahead You can marinate up to two days in advance. As with most things grilled, it best to eat shortly after removing from the grill and prior to refrigeration.
4 tablespoons chopped garlic
3/4 cup tarragon leaves chopped, about 3 tablespoons for marinade
plus 2 tablespoons to add after slicing
1 lemon plus 6-8 lemon wedges, trimmed
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 pounds boneless turkey breast
1 – 2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1. With a sharp knife, cut turkey breast in half cutting parallel to cutting surface. Rinse and pat dry.
2. In a dish large enough to hold breast, combine garlic, 3 tablespoons tarragon and olive oil. Add pieces of breast, one at a time and coat well with marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours but ideally 6-8 hours.
3. Preheat grill of grill pan to medium high.
4. Remove breasts from marinade, lightly scraping away some of the garlic and tarragon. The breast will take some time to cook and the chopped garlic will burn. Having a bit is fine, but you don’t want your breast covered with charred garlic.
5. Place breast on grill or in grill pan and cook first side for about 8-10 minutes. Turn and cook until thermometer reads about 155 degrees in thickest part of breast, about another 8-10 minutes.
6. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Cut into about 1/4-inch thick slices against the natural grain of breast.
7. Squeeze lemon over sliced turkey. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons tarragon. Serve with lemon wedges.
Serves 6 -8
If your breast is skin-on, just peel away skin.
You will need a sharp knife. Place breast flat onto cutting surface.
Moving your knife parallel to cutting surface, cut breast in half.
You will have two thinner “steaks.”
One side may naturally break into two pieces. This is fine.
Rinse and pat dry.
Measure tarragon leaves into cup measure. A bit more or less really doesn’t matter much. Chop the tarragon.
Add garlic, chopped tarragon and olive oil to a dish large enough to hold breasts.
Add turkey “steaks” and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and ideally 6-8 hours. It is best not to cook from cold — especially when grilling something thick. By removing turkey from refrigerator and allowing it to reach room temperature, you are getting a head start on cooking by bringing the temperature from the 40 degrees of the refrigerator to the 70 degrees of a room. If you don’t do this, your turkey will require additional cooking time that could cause you to over-cook the outside while waiting for the inside to reach temperature. Ideally, remove from refrigerator three or four hours before grilling.
Pre-heat grill or grill pan over moderate-high heat. Add turkey. These are the two smaller “steaks.” Cook 6-8 minutes.
Turn and cook another 8-10 minutes — depending on level of heat and thickness of “steak.”
This is the larger “steak” cooking. Place thermometer in thickest part to check temperature as you go. The internal temperature of the turkey will continue to rise even after you take it off the heat. The recommended cooking temperature for turkey breast is 165-170 degrees. I find this takes the breast too far and dries it out. Your goal is no pink or just the barest amount of pink when you slice the breast. Removing turkey at about 150-155 degrees should accomplish this. Remember that your “steak” is probably not of equal thickness so it will not all be cooked exactly the same.
Here are the three pieces. Looks pretty good! Any grilled meat will benefit from resting at least 10 minutes before slicing. Slicing too soon causes the natural juices that need to settle in after cooking to drain away. Be patient.
Try to find the direction of the natural grain of the turkey and cut across it rather than parallel.
Here it is on the left, sliced and ready to go. Sprinkle with fresh tarragon, add salt and pepper — after slicing so the salt and pepper can get to the slices, squeeze lemon and serve with lemon wedges.