Scored, seasoned with herbs and spices, rolled up and smoked, this turkey porchetta will take your Thanksgiving table (or any table) to the next level!
**Post written by The BBQ Brothers. For all meat prep, grill set up, temperature and humidity control, recommended tools, and techniques for The BBQ Brothers recipes, check out The BBQ Brothers Beginner’s Guide To Grilling first, then get to cookin!
Alright boys and girls, it’s getting close to the big turkey day, and I know you all have visions of Norman Rockwell paintings in your head with the big perfect looking turkey on the table, surrounded by a picturesque family, just waiting to dig in. Well this isn’t that turkey recipe. While we are never going to hate on a traditional turkey with all the trimmings, we do want to take a look into something a little outside the box.
Our Thanksgiving gatherings have turned into smaller affairs with people being out of town with their own families, or Friendsgiving with a few close pals, and the whole big bird isn’t always necessary. So, with some inspiration from the great J. Kenji López-Alt over at Serious Eats, we looked at doing a riff on his Turkey Porchetta (aka Turchetta) with a couple different spins on it.
What you need:
- 1 whole turkey breast, with skin
- Fennel seed
- Red pepper flakes
- Olive oil
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SMOKED TURKEY PORCHETTA
So first of all, what the hell is Porchetta let alone Turkey Porchetta? Porchetta is pork belly that has been scored, seasoned with herbs and spices, rolled up and roasted. It really is one of the most decadent meals out there and you better believe that at some point we will tackle that bad boy. But, as you can imagine, pork belly and turkey breast are quite a bit different so that leads to some interesting strategies to make it work.
The main difference is that, physically, pork belly lends itself to being rolled up with the skin on the outside that leads to perfect crispy skin after being exposed to the most direct heat while cooking. Well, unfortunately turkey breast doesn’t work that way, which leads us to our first divergence, and in my opinion biggest pain in the ass: deboning our turkey breast.
There are lots of guides out there that make it seem super easy but for whatever reason I had a heck of a time getting this going. First thing we need to do is remove the skin and set it aside for later. I found that the easiest and best way to do it without tearing is to get your fingers in-between the skin and the flesh and to just work your hand in there separating the two.
After that you’ll want to debone the breast and, in my experience, you’re just going to want to carve the breast bone from the flesh. I wish I had some tricks or secrets but for me it was a time-consuming process.Once you get that, you’ll butterfly your breast out and flatten it out on top of that lovely skin that we have. After that we’re going to score the breast so that our herb mixture can get in there as much as possible.Speaking of herb mixtures, we should probably make one, shouldn’t we? For your herbs, you can use any kind of Thanksgiving type herbs. I went with parsley (1 C), (since I still have some in my garden), fennel seed (1/2 Tbsp), peppercorns (1 Tbsp), salt (1/2 Tbsp), a little red pepper flake to taste, and some olive oil (1 Tbsp). You could easily use something like sage as well.
You’ll want to mix it up in a food processor or high-powered blender until it’s almost a pesto like consistency. Once you have that all processed just go ahead and rub it into the scored side of the turkey breast.Now we’ll get to rollin’. You’ll need to roll up the breast on its own and get it nice and tight making sure we get as much of that mixture in there as we can. After you’re rolled up, you roll it up again, this time with the skin, so we have a nice packet of meat under the skin. Make sure you keep all of the skin on the outside of the breast. Next, you’ll want to tie this bad boy up with butcher’s twine , so it stays all together. Now would be the time to use any fancy butcher’s knots that you’ve learned over the years.We dusted the outside with a little rub which was just the herb mixture minus the parsley, oil and chili flakes, so basically fennel, salt and pepper.Now it’s time to get smoking. Set up your smoker to 250-275F. When you put your turkey on, add a little bit of wood (we used apple, but any mild fruit wood would be fine). You’ll want to get the internal temp up to 145-150F which should take about 2 hours or so. When you get close to your internal temp, you can crank up your temperature to crisp up that skin on the outside.Once you’re all done, pull it from the smoker and let it rest for a few minutes to let juices redistribute. After that, all that’s left is to snip your twine and carve it up. Now enjoy that pretty cross-section and get ready for a tryptophan induced nap. Find yourself craving all the Thanksgiving fixin’s after looking at this turkey porchetta? Check out our Thanksgiving Bacon Explosion, loaded with mashed potatoes and stuffing, then topped with a cranberry bourbon glaze!
Looking for something simpler? Check out this Easy Double Smoked Turkey recipe!
BBQ ESSENTIALS (Smoked Turkey Porchetta Edition)
Meat used: 1 turkey whole breast, with skin
Seasoning: Parsley (1 C), fennel seed (1/2 Tbsp), peppercorns (1 Tbsp), salt (1/2 Tbsp), a little red pepper flake to taste, and some olive oil (1 Tbsp).
Wood Used: Apple
Grill Temperature: ~250-275 F, indirect heat
Meat Temperature: 145-150 F
Smoke time: ~2 hours
- Prep the turkey by removing the skin (and setting aside for later), deboning, butterflying and scoring it.
- Add seasonings and olive oil into a food processor or high-powered blender until pesto consistency, then rub into scored side of turkey breast.
- Roll the turkey breast up tight, then roll it again inside of the skin (make sure you keep all of the skin on the outside of the breast).
- Tie the turkey breast up using butcher’s twine.
- Dust the outside of the turkey with fennel, salt and pepper.
- When you get close to your internal temp, you can crank up your temperature to crisp up that skin on the outside.
- Once done, allow to rest for a few minutes to redistribute the juices, then snip off and remove the twine, carve and serve.
So let us know what you think….did this recipe smoke the competition or go up in flames?