Bacon makes everything better…so why not try it out with a turkey breast? While we’re at it, let’s butterfly, pound, and then stuff (with cauliflower “rice”) that turkey breast first. Then let’s wrap it with the bacon. Finally, let’s throw it on the grill to cook. Yes, folks, now we’re talking about something worth taking a little time to make right – because this will take a little time to make. But it’s definitely worth it, so plan this one for a day when you won’t be rushed to make dinner and can reap the rewards. If you’re lucky, there might even be enough leftovers for lunch the next day…
- 1 large turkey breast, fully thawed. If you can get a free range one, bonus! You need skinless & boneless, but that’s easy enough to do if you end up with one that has the bone and the skin like mine above
- 1 lb bacon. Again, pastured if you can.
- 1 small head cauliflower
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped fine (discard the stem)
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped fine (discard the stem)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- zest of 1/4 lemon
Start out by steaming the cauliflower and “rice” it (you can follow the directions here for how to do this). The only difference is that we are going to put the lemon zest in the water that we use for steaming the cauliflower. Don’t leave this out – it gives the stuffing a subtle lemony flavor that goes well with the herbs. Once you’ve got the cauliflower riced in the food processor, add to it the garlic, rosemary, oregano, sea salt, and white pepper and mix well. Set it aside for now.
While the cauliflower is steaming and before you start the below steps, get the grill started. If using gas or charcoal, get a cheap aluminum pan (or make one out of foil) in place under the grate in the middle as a drip pan (bacon fires are NOT fun). If you’ve got a pellet burner, just make sure your grease pan is in place. Set up the grill for indirect high heat (around 450-degrees).
Next we need to prep the turkey breast. Start by removing the skin and cutting the breast away from the bone (if it didn’t come that way). Remove the inner breast “tenderloin”, and then trim out the ligament that runs through the middle. The best way I’ve found to do this is with a sharp fillet knife running with the blade “flat” against the ligament and progressively shaving through the meat until I’ve fully cut it out. Don’t worry about this smaller tenderloin ending up in a couple even smaller pieces…we’ll deal with that. It is important for the main breast piece to remain intact.
Now, we need to butterfly the larger breast so we’ve got something a little thinner to start with. Just be sure to keep the two halves consistent in thickness, starting at the thinner side of the breast, and to leave adequate “hinge” on the thick edge (about the same as the thickness of the slice at that point). Unfold it, arrange the smaller pieces next to it on a large cutting board, and then lay a piece of plastic wrap over the whole thing. Hammer the large piece with a meat mallet to an even thickness of about 1/2″ or so, and into a roughly rectangular shape, and the smaller pieces into about the same thickness and whatever shape they end up. Take note of the hints in this recipe regarding how aggressive to be with the mallet – keeping in mind that the turkey breast will take a bit more coercion than was needed for the chicken.
Spread your stuffing across the large flattened breast. Lay the small pieces on top of the stuffing running the long direction (if yours happens to be rectangular instead of square like mine). Grab a long edge and roll it up into big log, trying to keep as much of the stuffing inside as you can (you may need three or four hands to do this successfully…just warning you). Set it aside.
Lay out the bacon in parallel rows, overlapping the ends by a couple of inches. Set the turkey “roll-up” in the middle across the strips. Here is where you can finally put those mad basket-weaving skills you practiced in summer camp to good use! If you’ve got more rows of bacon than you’ve got length of turkey (like in the above photo at the top end), then take one extra and lay them over the ends of the roll parallel to the length to cover up the ends. Then, start at one end and pull up an end of the bacon across the top diagonally. Take the open end from the opposite side and lay it diagonally the other way. Alternate back and forth until you’ve woven the bacon across the entire roll.
As you can see here, basket weaving was NOT one of my activity choices at camp… When you’re finished with the weaving, tie up the ‘roast’ with some butcher’s string¹. If you were a Boy Scout, and paid attention at ALL during a half-dozen different merit badges, you should be able to handle this. It’s nothing but a series of half-hitches in series – sometimes known as a “chain hitch.” And if all this talk of hitches has you flustered…just start wrapping the string around it and tying it randomly until you are sure that the thing won’t fall apart.
Put the roast on the grill. Poke a meat thermometer into one end so it is reading the center. Keep the lid on as much as possible. Turn the roast a quarter turn about once every 10 minutes to cook the bacon evenly until you’ve turned it to all four sides. Continue cooking until the meat thermometer just reads 165 degrees – around 55 to 70 minutes.
Transfer to a cutting board and let it “rest” for another 5 to 10 minutes. If you’ve been screwing off for the last hour while it was cooking, then use this time to hastily throw together a side salad and maybe some steamed carrots or something. Remove the string, then carve into 3/4″ thick slices. Serve, and enjoy!