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Hazelnut-Pesto Turkey Breast


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  • 4 cups apple or cherry wood chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts or almonds, toasted
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut oil, almond oil, or cooking oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1 fresh turkey breast half with bone (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
  • Cooking oil



Step 1

Cover wood chips with water; soak at least 1 hour before grilling.

For pesto, place hazelnuts or almonds in a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until very finely chopped. Add egg yolk, spinach, basil, the 1 tablespoon of oil, and the garlic. Cover and blend or process until nearly smooth. If necessary, stop processor and scrape container sides. Stir in the Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Remove bone from turkey, if desired. To loosen turkey skin, slip fingers under, leaving skin attached at one long edge. Spread the pesto over the meat under the skin. Fold the skin over pesto. Secure with wooden skewers or toothpicks. If bone is removed, tuck thinner portion of breast under thicker portion; tie with string. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest portion of turkey breast, without touching bone, if present.

Drain wood chips. In a covered grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Pour 1 inch of water into drip pan. Sprinkle half of the wood chips onto the coals. Test for medium heat above the pan. Place turkey breast, pesto-stuffed side up, on the grill rack over the drip pan but not over the coals. Brush skin with cooking oil.

Cover and grill until meat thermometer registers 170 degrees, allowing 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hours for breast with bone and 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours for boneless breast. During grilling, add more coals, drained wood chips, and water as necessary. Remove turkey from grill; let turkey stand, covered for 10 minutes before slicing.


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