Grilled Turkey Tenderloin Tandoori with Cranberry Chutney and Cucumber Rata

When you think of grilling, you immediately conjure images of sizzling beef or thick pork chops, barbecued chicken legs and the perennial favorites: hamburgers and hotdogs. With their high fat content or protective layer of skin, these meats are perfect for the grill. There is little chance your chicken legs will fall apart when you turn them, or your fresh-ground ribeye hamburger patty will end up as a tough briquette of carbonized char unless of course, you are completely inept at grilling. And make no mistake, many are. From frequent flippers to compulsive checkers, flame-timid neophytes to the cataclysmically drunk, a lot of damage can be wrought on the unsuspecting piece of protein.

But you’re here, and you know how to grill. So lets put a piece of meat on the grill that you might not have thought to ever use in such a way. Turkey tenderloins get a chance to shine on your grill. With this spicy Indian yogurt marinade and a tangy cranberry chutney topper, you’ll wonder why you’ve never thought to grill these before. We do have a few things to consider when grilling these ultra-lean and tender strips of protein. They will stick; it’s inevitable, unless you are using a non-stick grill pan, which would be the perfect use for such a pan. But it’s difficult to get a grill pan hot enough to properly sear the meat where it touches the metal and crust the marinade where it doesn’t without smoking out your house.

So we’re back to the grill. It’s vitally imperative to completely clean the grates before you begin grilling. You can do this by heating the grill and scrubbing the hot grates, letting the grates heat some more and then scrubbing them again just before you are ready to grill. Lastly, the grates need a coating of oil rubbed on them either with a paper towel dipped in oil, or a dish cloth rolled and dipped in oil. The cloth will leave less lint, but unless you plan to throw it out will need to be cleaned, probably by hand. The paper towel can just be tossed. As for the meat, a quick spritz of cooking spray on both sides before placing the tenderloins on the grates will also help with sticking.

Ultimately you’ll need to use a thin metal hamburger flipping spatula, preferably one with a long handle since the grill will be quite hot. Carefully scrape under the tenderloin to help release the meat before turning it over. We’ll also grill these tenderloins on low after we’ve preheated the grill on high. Without fat, they can’t take the high heat that traditional grilling meats require.

Topped with the spicy cranberry chutney and served with sides of sweet potato purée and crisp cucumber rata, turkey no longer is relegated to Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey Tenderloin Tandoori

Cranberry Chutney

  • 1⅓ cups cranberries, frozen or fresh
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • ⅓ cup chopped dried apricots
  • ⅓ cup golden raisins
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • pinch of finely ground kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cranberry juice 

Heat all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the mixture is thick and bubbly and the cranberries have “popped” stirring continuously. Let cool to room temperature. Do not refrigerate before serving. Leftovers should be refrigerated. Reheat before using again.

Cucumber Rata

  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced into half-moons
  • ½ cup plain Greek whole fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoon fresh or 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • 1 tablespoon honey or to taste
  • finely ground kosher salt to taste 

Mix the yogurt, mint, salt and honey until smooth, fold the cucumbers into the sauce. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

The Marinade

  • ¼ cup plain Greek whole fat yogurt
  • ¼ cup whole fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons each of brown sugar, cumin, garam masala, paprika, and tumeric
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoon fresh minced gingerroot
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 3 turkey tenderloins, halved diagonally
  • 3-4 tablespoons melted butter 

Mix all the ingredients above, except the tenderloins and butter, until they are evenly incorporated. Add the tenderloins and turn to coat, set aside at room temperature while you preheat the grill on high.

On clean and oiled grates, spray both sides of the tenderloin and then grill them on low for 3-4 minutes a side, carefully scraping them to release the meat before turning. Remove the tenderloins to a platter and allow them to rest for a few minutes before serving. Brush each tenderloin with the melted butter using a silicone brush.

Top each tenderloin with the warm chutney when serving.