The key to cooking turkey is to keep it as moist as possible during cooking, and that's where foil comes in. You can consider a turkey crown a turkey without legs and wings, or two turkey breasts attached to the breastbone. Heavy-duty foil does its part after the crown goes in the oven or on the barbecue, but you can do some extra prep before cooking to prevent the breasts from drying out. The one-two punch of brining and barding works best for crowns because one increases moisture within the breasts and the other keeps them coated in fat during cooking.
Preparing the Crown
Mix a 3- or 4-gallon basic brine using 1 cup of kosher salt per gallon of water. Place the turkey crown in the brine and let it sit in the refrigerator 24 to 36 hours.
Drain the brine from the turkey crown and pat the skin dry with paper towels. Place a large piece of wide, heavy-duty foil on the work surface and set the turkey crown on top of it. You need a piece long enough to wrap the crown with, so use about 3 or 4 feet.
Make several 1-inch-long slits in the turkey skin and stuff little pieces of butter in them for barding. You can also cover the skin with fatty bacon to bard the crown.
Season the crown all over with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Coat the skin with oil.
Wrap the crown in the foil. Lift one side of the foil, wrap it over the crown then press it down firmly to fit snugly. Repeat with the other side of the foil until the turkey doesn't have any exposed areas. Use extra pieces of foil to cover any bare spots if you have to.
Place the crown on a tray or in a dish and let it sit at room temperature for about 1 hour. You want to start the crown from room temperature so it cooks evenly.
Roasting the Crown
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer through the foil and into the thickest turkey breast.
Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a deep roasting pan. Place the crown in the oven and roast it for 2 hours.
Slide the oven rack out after 2 hours of roasting and tear the foil off the crown so the skin can crisp. The meat thermometer should read about 150 F after 2 hours.
Continue roasting the crown until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F, about 30 minutes more. Take the crown out and cover it loosely with foil.
Rest the turkey 20 to 30 minutes before serving. If you used bacon for barding, you can discard or eat the bacon, but take it off the bird before serving it.
Barbecuing the Crown
Place an aluminum roasting tin in the center of the charcoal tray and pile a layer or two of lump charcoal around it. Light charcoal and let the grill heat with the lid closed for about 20 minutes.
If you have a gas grill, set the burners on one side to medium-low, place a roasting tin on the other side and close the lid to let it heat.
Sprinkle a cup of soaked hardwood chips on the coals if you want to add smoke.
Insert an oven-safe thermometer in a turkey breast and place it on the grill over the roasting tin. Close the lid.
Barbecue the crown for 1 hour and add another layer of coals. Cook the crown for another 30 minutes.
Check the temperature of the crown after 1 1/2 hours of active cooking time. The crown should measure between 150 and 160 F. Tear the foil from the crown and cover the barbecue.
Barbecue the crown for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until reaches an internal temperature of 165 F. Take the crown off the grill and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Rest the crown 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
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A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.