Talking turkey: Consider firing up the barbecue grill

Lemon Garlic Turkey Kebabs
Photo courtesy Jennie-O
Story by Amy K. Stewart
(Standard-Examiner correspondent)
Mon, Jun 25, 2012
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Turkey — it’s not just for Thanksgiving anymore.

Just in time for grilling season, local grocers are stocking various cuts of turkey for easy summer meal preparations.

Harmons recently contracted with Moroni Feed Company in central Utah to provide fresh, natural turkey for its stores. Cuts include whole breasts, drums, wings, thighs, breast meat strips, chops, cubes and freshly ground turkey.

“The thing that is great about turkey is how lean it is,” said Jessica LaRoche, dietitian at Harmons in Farmington.

When comparing three ounces of breast meat, chicken has 3.6 grams of fat; turkey breast has only 1 gram of fat, according to Harmons officials.

However, many people think about turkey only when it comes to the winter holidays. Turkey is sometimes overlooked when it comes to summer grilling.

“I think a lot of people only associate turkey with Thanksgiving — that’s the only time of year it comes to mind,” LaRoche said. “And turkey cuts aren’t as available at some places other times of the year.”

Further, whipping up a meal on the grill is an optimum choice to using the kitchen stove as summer temperatures heat up.

“Just throw some vegetables on the grill right beside the turkey meat so it’s all a meal in one,” LaRoche said. “Grilled asparagus is just one nice choice.”

The trick to successfully grilling turkey is to use a sauce or marinade, and be careful not to overcook, since the meat can be dry. “You will end up with a super-lean product since you’re not adding fat to it,” LaRoche said.

Shane Marberger, meat manager at Fresh Market, said one idea to add moisture to the turkey is to wrap the meat in bacon, especially if making turkey kebabs. “Use a turkey filet or a turkey tender cut, add olive oil and seasoning, and wrap with bacon,” Marberger said. “The bacon keeps the turkey moist and gives it a really good flavor so your finished product is wonderful — a lot more moist and seasoned.”

Grill the turkey at a low temperature and turn the meat often.

“The key is to be patient,” Marberger said. “Don’t just toss turkey on the grill and put the lid on it. You kind of have to baby-sit it. If you have a marinade, keep basting it.”

Otto McFarland, a salad and entrée chef with Smith’s grocery, says a rub or marinade is perfect for grilling turkey. A quick and easy rub consists of olive oil, kosher salt, cracked pepper and Herbes de Provence, which is a mix of dry herbs, typically including savory, fennel, basil, thyme and lavender.

For a spicy twist in a marinade, McFarland’s co-worker suggests his own Rudy’s Soy Sauce Marinade,which is 1 1/2 cups soy sauce, 1/4 tablespoon garlic powder, 2 1/4 cups water and a pinch of crushed red pepper.

Teresa Hunsaker, family and consumer sciences educator for the Utah State University Extension, said her favorite turkey marinade is one part soy sauce and two parts Sprite or 7-Up. She places the turkey cuts in a plastic bag with the marinade and lets the mixture sit for a few hours.

She sometimes freezes the turkey right in the marinade, “which is a perfect way to get those flavors right into the meat,” Hunsaker said.

These recipes come from the Jennie-O brand.

Cranberry Horseradish Turkey Burger

4 lean turkey burger patties

4 burger buns, split and toasted

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

4 slices Swiss cheese

1/4 cup wholeberry cranberry sauce

8 arugula leaves

Cook the patties as specified on the package. Always cook to well-done, 165 degrees as measured by a meat thermometer.

Spread cut sides of bun with horseradish. Top with cheese, patty, cranberry sauce, arugula, and top of bun.

Lemon Garlic Turkey Kebabs

1/2 cup light Italian dressing

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

24 ounce lemon garlic turkey tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks

1 small red onion, cut into wedges

Cherry tomatoes, if desired

Pineapple chunks, if desired

Prepare marinade by mixing first 6 ingredients. Set aside a small amount of marinade to brush on kebabs while grilling or broiling. Marinate 1 package lemon garlic turkey breast tenderloin, cut into 1 1/4-inch cubes, with the last four ingredients. Prepare grill or preheat broiler. Drain the turkey, vegetables and fruit; discard marinade. Thread turkey and vegetables and fruit onto skewers. Brush reserved marinade over kebabs. Grill or broil about 5 inches from heat source for 6 minutes, turning occasionally for even cooking. Turn and brush with remaining marinade and continue grilling for 7 to 8 minutes or until the turkey is well-done, 165 degrees as measured by a meat thermometer. Serve with rice, if desired.


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