Grilled Turkey Breast with Mango and Pepper Salsa

I’ve made this turkey before, but my Kingsford coals would petered, and I’ve always had to finish cooking it in the oven. Today, the charcoal didn’t die and the turkey turned out fantastic. The rich smokiness and odd shape convinced everybody that I was serving pork, but the lean turkey and flavorful, sweet topping made for an extremely healthy meal. Proof that healthy food can be delicious; if you have 3-1/2 hours. 4-1/4 stars with minimal mess.

So delicious you'll forget its healthy

So delicious you’ll forget its healthy


  1. When I was looking back at my past blog to make the recipe, the recipe seemed hard to follow. So today I wanted to make the recipe clear and simple. I’ve also made this recipe as deli meat for my kid’s school lunches. Last year I even tried making an herb butter for the turkey (which was a mistake).
  2. I’m not completely sure why my charcoals were successful today, when they have failed in the past. My theories are: (1) the unseasonably warm temperatures helped keep the grill hotter, (2) I emptied the coals in step 6 before they were completely covered in grey ash; i.e. after 20 minutes instead of 30 minutes. That might have helped stretch out the coals burning time. (3) Or it’s possible the Kingsford may have tweaked their formula, based upon past issues.
  3. Chris Kimball tries to explain how to tie a butcher’s knot. But watching this season’s ATK gave better advice; use a double starting knot so that you can tighten your knot without slipping as you make the second knot.
  4. The recipe for this Salsa isn’t listed under the “related recipe” of the turkey, and the exact measurements weren’t given on the ATK episode. But I finally found the recipe for Mango and Pepper Salsa here.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $13.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 2:30 PM.  Ready:  6 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

1 bone-in, skin-on turkey breast
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2-cup wood chips
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Ground black pepper

Mango and Pepper Salsa Ingredients:
1 large, ripe mango
1/2 large red bell pepper
1 small shallot
3 tablespoons lime juice , from 1 to 2 limes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Table salt
Cayenne pepper
1/4 cup unsalted pepitas

  1. Use your fingers to separate skin from meat, then use a knife to cut the whole skin from the breast, being careful that the skin stays in one piece. Set the skin aside for the time being. Use a boning knife to completely remove each breast half, cutting down along the rib cage and following the curve until the breasts are free. Discard the bones or save them for making turkey stock. (I ended up with 4 pounds of meat/bones for stock)
  2. Cut one 36″ length of kitchen twine and seven or eight 16″ lengths of kitchen twine.
  3. Evenly sprinkle both sides of each breast with a total of 4 teaspoons kosher salt (2 teaspoons per breast). Lay one breast on the cutting board with the cut-side facing up, then place the second breast with the cut-side facing down. Arrange so that the thick end of one breast is over the tapered end of the other breast, which will eventually result in a cylinder of turkey with a roughly equal diameter. Lay the turkey skin over the breast, tuck the ends underneath the turkey.
  4. First, loosely tie the 36″ length of twine lengthwise around the turkey. If you try to over tighten the turkey halves will fall apart, and you’ll have to start over. Then very firmly tie a 16″ length of twine cross-wise at the center of the roast (see note above about tying a double starter knot). The tighter you tie the center string the more evenly your roast will cook. Next firmly tie a 16″ length of twine cross-wise at both ends. Finally continue tying up the roast with kitchen twine until it is bound at 1″ intervals.
  5. Once the knots are tied, stretch the skin (which is already tied underneath) so that it covers as much of the roast as possible. Put the roast on a wire rack, set over a rimmed sheet pan. Place it uncovered in refrigerator for 1 hour. Meanwhile soak 1/2 cup of wood chips in water, so that they’ll smoke rather than burn.
  6. With about 20 minutes to go, ignite a full chimney started filled with charcoal. It should take about 20 minutes until the coals become fully ignited. Empty the coals on half the grill, leaving the other half without any coals. Drain the wood chips and sprinkle evenly over the coals. Allowing the grill to preheat for 5 minutes will make it easier to clean.
  7. Rub 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over the roast and sprinkle with pepper (it already has plenty of salt).
  8. Place the roast near the coals, but not directly over them. Cover and close the bottom vents half-way, then set the top vents 2/3rd-of-way closed. After 30 minutes rotate the roast 180-degrees. After another 40 minutes the internal temperature of the roast should reach 150-degrees.  If your internal temperature is not 150-degrees, begin to preheat your oven to 375-degrees because your charcoal won’t be enough.
  9. While the turkey is on the grill, make the salsa. Toast the pepitas in a small skillet for 4 to 5 minutes, and mix into salsa just before serving. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the mango. Cut the fruit away from the pit, and then cut into 1/4″ dice (Chris Kimball gives advice on dicing Mangoes). Remove pepper’s white core and seeds, and cut into 1/4″ dice. Mince the shallot and cilantro. Add all the ingredients except the toasted pepitas to a medium bowl (or serving bowl).
  10. Move roast to the hot-side and cook, covered, for 10 to 20 minutes, rotating every few minutes so that the skin browns evenly until the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  11. Cut away twine and slice into 1/2″-thick slices. Add the toasted pepitas to the mango salsa, and serve.

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