Photos by Leigh Ann Chatagnier

Wing it this Thanksgiving with Citrus Herb Butter Grilled Turkey

Why do birds suddenly appear every time the end of November draws near? Tradition dictates a turkey on every table, that’s why. But food blogger, cookbook author and frequent inRegister contributor Leigh Ann Chatagnier of says it’s possible to go beyond the basic and boring in preparing this year’s formerly feathered feast.

Chatagnier suggests deviating just a little from tradition by preparing the Thanksgiving turkey on the grill instead of the oven, then finishing it with homemade herbed citrus butter.

“I know a roasted turkey is usually on everyone’s menu plan, but this method frees up oven space and gets the turkey ready from start to finish in under an hour,” says Chatagnier. “It’s so full of flavor and makes for a stunning presentation.”

Chatagnier cuts down on cooking time by buying only turkey breasts and legs instead of the whole bird. If you’re partial to the wings or thighs, she suggests having the butcher cut your whole turkey into pieces so you get all your favorite parts. Grilling only the parts you want to eat also helps when cooking for a smaller crowd, she notes.

The turkey pieces cook for five minutes over direct heat before moving to indirect heat for about 45 minutes. Shortly before removing from the grill, she brushes the beautifully browning bird with melted butter that has been combined with garlic, honey, herbs and freshly squeezed orange juice. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of room in the oven for Grandma’s carrot soufflé and whatever green bean concoction the kids will be pushing around their plates this year.

“When coated in the citrus herb butter, the meat is insanely delicious,” Chatagnier says. “It has crispy skin, juicy insides and a little bit of smoky flavor from the grill.”

Citrus Herb Butter Grilled Turkey

1 bone-in turkey breast
2 to 3 turkey legs
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 peeled and smashed garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. rosemary
1 Tbsp. sage
1 Tbsp. thyme
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp. salt, plus extra for seasoning turkey meat
1 Tsp. black pepper, plus extra for seasoning turkey meat
1 Tbsp. honey
Let turkey pieces come to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Pat dry with a paper towel and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides of the turkey. (Don’t be shy here, the turkey needs good seasoning!)
Preheat grill to 425 degrees. Place turkey pieces skin side down on the grill. Let them cook over direct heat for 5 minutes per side and then transfer to indirect heat. This can be on a top rack of your grill or on a side burner that isn’t on. Close the lid, keeping the temperature at about 400 degrees, and let turkey continue to cook for 45 minutes until it is almost cooked through. Flip twice during cook time.
While turkey cooks, melt butter, oil, garlic, herbs, citrus, honey, salt and pepper until the butter is fragrant. Turn off heat. The last 5 minutes of cooking, brush each side of turkey pieces with herbed citrus butter to infuse into meat.
When internal temperature of turkey pieces reaches 165 degrees, remove from grill. Let turkey rest for 10 minutes before serving. Slice turkey breast off of bone and place on a platter with turkey legs. Serve with extra infused butter on the side!