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Show 412:
Breast Man

Pit masters are obsessed with breasts. (Chicken and turkey breasts, that is.) This week, BBQ U Professor Steven Raichlen takes on America’s most popular cut of poultry. It's all about how to keep white meat juicy when grilling and barbecuing. First, from . Balthazar, the boisterous, "see-and-be-seen" bistro in Lower Manhattan, come easy and fabulous Tarragon Chicken Paillards, which are pounded paper thin and smokily seared on the grill. And then Maple-Smoked Turkey Breast gets a triple-blast of flavor from maple sugar rub, a maple syrup glaze, and a long slow smoke over…you guessed it…maple wood.

TARRAGON CHICKEN PAILLARDS
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BBQ USA  
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Source: BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)
Method: Direct
Yield: Serves 4
Advance Preparation: 30 minutes for marinating the chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (each 6 to 8 ounces)
1 clove garlic, minced,
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup grape or baby cherry tomatoes (cut cherry tomatoes in half)
6 to 8 cups mesclun, rinsed and spun dry
4 fresh tarragon sprigs, for garnish
4 lemon wedges, for serving

You’ll also need:
2 cups wood chips or chunks (optional; preferably oak), unsoaked

1. Trim any sinews or excess fat off the breasts and discard. Rinse the breasts under cold running water, then drain (don’t blot dry; the breasts should be damp). Place each breast between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound it out into a broad flat sheet 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick, using a scallopini pounder or the side of a heavy cleaver. Repeat with the remaining breasts. Place the breasts on a rimmed nonstick baking sheet.

2. Place the garlic, salt, black pepper, and hot red pepper flakes in the bottom of a large nonreactive mixing bowl and mash to a paste with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the mustard, 1 tablespoon of the chopped tarragon, and the lemon juice and vinegar, and whisk to mix. Gradually whisk in the olive oil; the mixture will thicken. Pour a quarter of this vinaigrette over the chicken breasts, patting it onto the chicken with a fork. Turn the breasts over, pour another quarter of the vinaigrette on top, and pat it onto the chicken with a fork. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 30 minutes. Set the remaining vinaigrette aside. You’ll use it to dress the salad.

3. Just before you set up the grill, place the tomatoes, mesclun, and the remaining chopped tarragon, in that order, in the bowl with the remaining dressing, but don’t toss them together.

4. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks, if desired, in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to high, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks, if desired, on the coals.

5. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the paillards on the hot grate, placing them on a diagonal to the bars. Grill the paillards until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side, rotating each a quarter turn after 1 minute to create an attractive crosshatch of grill marks, if desired (use a long, wide spatula to turn over the paillards). To test for doneness, poke a paillard with your finger; it should feel firm to the touch.

6. Transfer the grilled paillards to a platter or plates. Quickly toss the salad and mound it on top of the paillards. Garnish with the tarragon sprigs and serve at once with the lemon wedges.

MAPLE-SMOKED TURKEY BREAST
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BBQ USA  
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Source: BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)
Method: Indirect
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
Advance Preparation: 12 hours for curing the turkey

FOR THE RUB AND THE TURKEY
2 tablespoons maple sugar or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 bone-in turkey breast (about 5 pounds)

FOR THE MAPLE BUTTER BASTING MIXTURE
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, melted

You’ll also need:
Poultry shears; 2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably maple), soaked for 1 hour in cold water to cover, then drained

1. MAKE THE RUB: Place the maple sugar, paprika, black pepper, coarse salt, celery salt, garlic and onion powders, cayenne, and mustard in a small bowl and stir to mix.

2. Rinse the turkey breast under cold running water, then drain and blot dry with paper towels. Using poultry shears or a large knife, cut out the ribs so the turkey breast lies flat.

Trim off and discard any excess fat. Sprinkle the rub over the turkey on all sides, patting it onto the meat with your fingertips. Place the breast in a covered bowl or resealable plastic bag and let cure overnight in the refrigerator.

3. MAKE THE BASTING MIXTURE: Combine the maple syrup and melted butter in a small saucepan.

4. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center, preheat the grill to medium, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

5. When ready to cook, place the turkey breast in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the turkey until cooked through, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. To test for doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer: The internal temperature should be about 170 degrees F. After 45 minutes, brush the turkey breast with some of the maple butter basting mixture. Baste the turkey 2 or 3 more times with the maple butter. If using a charcoal grill, after 1 hour you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals to each side.

6. Transfer the grilled turkey breast to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then carve. Or refrigerate the turkey until completely chilled and serve it cold.

VARIATION: While I call for a turkey breast here, you could certainly smoke a whole turkey the same way. For a 10-pound turkey, you’d need a double batch of the rub and basting mixture. The cooking time would be 2-1/2 to 3 hours.


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