Turkey and Grilling- Today's Hot New Trends

April 1, 2003


CONTACT: Sherrie Rosenblatt
Director of Public Relations
202-898-0100 x233
E-mail: srosenblatt@turkeyfed.org


Springtime marks the celebration of "June is Turkey Lovers'® Month," and it's the perfect opportunity to blend two of America's favorite summer treats-turkey and grilling. Last year, Americans ate 18 pounds of turkey per person and fired up their grills more than three billion times as grilling and turkey came together to make the leap from seasonal specialties to year-round staples.

With society's increasing demand for great food without a lot of work, it is easy to see why turkey and grilling are growing in popularity. Turkey, for instance, is more convenient than ever. The variety of turkey products available in the local grocery store keeps increasing. Turkey tenderloins, steaks, boneless breasts and drums are a delicious, economical way to enjoy the great taste of turkey throughout the year. These cuts are perfect for the grill, and leftovers (if there are any) are ideal for summer picnics and making great salads, sandwiches and snacks.

As for the increased interest in grilling, the simple fact is that, like turkey, it is convenient and tastes great. According to the Barbecue Industry Association, 85 percent of households in the United States own at least one grill. Many own more than one and use them more than four times per month during the barbecue season. The new, upgraded grill options offer expanded capabilities, like side burners, larger cooking surfaces and grease catchers that make grilling easier and more convenient all year. And, as always, grilling cuts the clean-up time so you have more time to relax, enjoy the summer weather or get back to work.

According to Stephanie Richardson, spokesperson for the Barbecue Industry Association, "Turkey products are versatile because they can be served as is, or seasoned to suit anyone's taste. And, they are convenient because they cook so quickly on the grill. When you consider that just more than half of all barbecue grills are used year-round, it's easy to see why turkey on the grill is a natural."

Whether you have a gas or a charcoal grill, the results will be juicy and delicious when you take advantage of these two rising superstars. Turkey is so versatile that it can be grilled with barbecue sauce or dressed up as in the following recipes for Apple Turkey Burgers, Turkey Yakitori, Tandoori Turkey Wraps and Grilled Jamaican Turkey Cutlets with Vegetables. Each of these recipes combines turkey products with special spices, fresh summer produce and other unique ingredients for easy, fresh grilling sensations.

Unable to use your grill in the off season? Never fear! There is one more new trend that can help you enjoy these flavors even in inclement weather-stovetop grill pans. Once thought to be a specialty kitchen piece, these pans can now be purchased almost anywhere and are modestly priced. The concept is simple-the food in the pan is raised on the rack so that dry heat gets beneath and around it for delicious, roasted flavor that tastes like summer.

Because there is no need to grease many of these pans, and you are not frying the food, stovetop grill pans offer the added benefit of keeping you turkey low in fat while you enjoy the gourmet flavors of the grill.

Grilling is easy as long as you keep a few tips in mind. First, be sure to follow the grill manufacturer's suggestions for direct and indirect heat cooking. Direct heat is fine for smaller portions of meat, but indirect heat is often best for larger cuts of turkey, like bone-in breasts. Hot air circulating around the meat locks in the juices and flavor while allowing the meat to cook thoroughly without becoming too dry. Second, remember to prepare extra marinade for basting and to use as a serving sauce. Never serve used marinade as a sauce. Finally, cooking times vary depending on the thickness of the cut of turkey. Rely on a meat thermometer, inserted in the thickest portion of the meat away from the bone, to tell when the meat is ready. White meat is ready at 170 degrees F., dark meat at 180 degrees F., and ground turkey, such as turkey burgers, at 165 degrees F.

Turkey on the grill, whether indoors or out, is a convenient way to eat tasty meals all year long. Use these recipes as a start, but then try experimenting on your own. Grilling highlights turkey's unique flavor and brings recipes to life in a whole new way.


The National Turkey Federation is the advocate for all segments of the U.S. turkey industry. It's award winning web site www.eatturkey.com offers successful on-line professional chef cooking demonstrations and a searchable database of more than 300 recipes that exhibit turkey's versatility as a profit-building item, which enhances menus in all meal occasions during every season of the year. Operators can also go to www.eatturkey.com to sign up for the RecipE-mail program to register and receive unique recipe ideas that add flair to holiday and special occasion menus year-round.