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Old 07-06-2007, 05:28 PM   #1
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Attempting to grill a turkey

Hello all,
We cleaned out the freezer today and I have a turkey that is taking up way to much room! We thought we'd try grilling it Sunday (it's thawing currently) but aren't really sure how to start. DH is thinking indirect heat ... beyond that, not really sure. Any helpful hints? I am concerned about it drying out so any suggestions about keeping it moist would be appreciated!
Thank you in advance!


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Old 07-06-2007, 06:06 PM   #2
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If you can defrost it quickly (cold water, change every couple hours) then tomorrow put in a brine of apple juice (1 gallon) to cover (you can add water to make up difference but straight apple juice is the best) and add a couple fresh limes (squeezed and dropped in) about 10 cloves of smashed garlic, a couple bunches of fresh thyme, a few long sprigs of fresh rosemary, a small palm of whole black peppercorns, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 3/4 cup brown sugar. Bring all of this to a simmer in a pot or just make sure it's hot enough for the salt and sugar to dissolve. COOL COMPLETELY before adding turkey.

Put turkey in a stock pot and cover with cooled/cold mixture.

Remove from stock pot, rinse, and dry off. Coat with oil. Use the indirect heat method rotating turkey several times for even cooking. The apple juice gives the turkey a WONDERFUL flavor. If you really want gravy finish cooking in a roasting pan in the oven the last couple hours.

I smoked a 24-lb. turkey last thanksgiving and it took a good 20 hours to cook so go from there. Indirect heat will take longer than straight grilling. The brine will keep it NICE and moist.


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Old 07-06-2007, 06:12 PM   #3
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A lot depends on what kind of grill you use and how big your bird is.

My husband has cooked several turkeys on the Webber grill. His advice is to brine the bird first, to help keep the moisture in. Rinse with cold water before cooking, then rub the outside with olive oil and season to your taste.

Do not put the turkey over direct fire. Put a drip pan under the turkey, and arrange the coals around the outside. Start off at 350 until bird is heated up, then lower temp to about 250-300. Time depends on side of bird.

Check your bird's internal temp before you take itoff the fire. The USDA has lowered it's recommended temperature for safe turkey from 180 to 165 degrees.

Let your turkey stand for 15 minutes or so before you slice it. That will help it to re-hydrate (re-collect it's juices).

I hope this helps!
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Old 07-06-2007, 07:08 PM   #4
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I was going to say the same thing, use the dripp pan. As the matter of fact I'd pretty much cooc the same way I would cook in the ove. for the last 10-15 minutes take it out from the drip pan and put right on the grill.
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Old 07-06-2007, 07:55 PM   #5
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Here's an alternative: I wouldn't do it whole. I'd cut out the backbone and butterfly it. The Naked Whiz's Ceramic Charcoal Cooker Page

The Big Green Eggers are fond of the word "Spatchcock", which just means to remove the backbone of the bird. Do that and flatten it out, butterflying it. You can brine if you think the bird dried out in the freezer - otherwise, it's not necessary.

Oil and rub the bird with seasonings, and lay it on your grill, skin side down at first, after the grill is hot. Then turn the grill down to medium high and keep turning the butterflied bird, all ways, every 20 minutes, to cook evenly. It should not take more than an hour and a half, 2 hours, depending on how large the turkey is.

The temp of the legs should be 175 and the breast 155. If you get it close,you are fine.

Let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.

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Old 07-07-2007, 12:50 AM   #6
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I've grilled many turkeys on my Webber Kettle Charcoal grill. It always comes out very juicy and tender. Through experimentation, I have found that the cooking temperature is less important than is the final meat temperature. With the oven, I have cooked at various temperatures, from 275'F to 475'F. always to an internal meat temperature of 155'F and then let the bird rest for 15 mintues. The only difference was in the crispiness of the skin. The meat was very tender and juicy no matter what the cooking temperature was.

If using a charcoal kettle-style grill, like a Webber, then divide the charcoal into two banks, opposite each other. Light them and let get hot while preparing the bird. The turkey should be at room temperature. I usually take the neck, gibletes, and liver and make a turkey broth from them to inject into the bird, but that is optional.

I have barbecued my turkeys using just charcoal, and with add ed wood chunks, usually comprised of sugar maple, white birch, or apple, or a combination of all three. both methods, with, and without wood gives an extraordinary result.

Dry the bird thoroughly with paper towels and rub with oil or softend butter. Make a drip pan from heavy-weight aluminum foil, or use a disposable bread pan. Fill the pan half full of water and place between the beds of glowing charcoal. Tie the wings and legs against the body and cover the wing tips with foil. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast meat, with the tip pushed down near the leg joint, but not touching any bone. Cover the face of the thermometer with foil to keep it from being fouled by the smoke. Place the bird directly over the drip pan and place cover on the grill. Close all vents to the half open position. Let cook for about twelve minutes per pound. When the time has elapsed, Check the thermometer. Continue checking evey ten minutes until the thermometer reads 155'F. Remove the bird to a platter and let rest for 15 minutes. The outside heat will continue to soak into the bird, bringing the final temp. to 165'F. REmove the breasts whole, and slice against the grain. Arrange on the platter with the legs and drumsticks on either side. Garnish with leafy greans. Serve with sides.

If using a multi-burner gas grill, follow the same cooking method by plaing the bird over the unlit burner and a smoker box over the ignited burner. Cooking time should be similar.

Total cooking time for a 20 lb. turkey is about 200 minutes, give or take a few.

You can brine your bird to give it extra flavor, or inject it with turkey broth, or a flavored broth where herbs have been added. You can also fill the turkey cavity with aromatics such as onion nad garlic, sage, thyme, etc.

The turkey, once cooking, virtually cooks itself with no required intervention by you, only to check the temperature near the end of cooking time. It's nearly foolproof. And, it will make you the hero of the house.

If you search through the pictures, I have a picture of a barbecued turkey that I made on the Webber. I cooked one on the 4rth for a potluck I attended. It was the star of the event. It really is easy. Do it once and you won't believe how simple a turkey is to cook to perfection.

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Old 07-09-2007, 11:56 AM   #7
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Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions! It didn't thaw completely until this morning so it's going on the grill tonight for dinner. I'll let you know how it turns out ...
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Old 07-09-2007, 12:12 PM   #8
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just a thought, but as well as the Brine, can`t you "beer can" it also, like you would with a chicken?
So long and Thanks for all the Fish ;)

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Old 07-09-2007, 12:14 PM   #9
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You'd need a really tall grill lid to get a vertical turkey covered.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 07-09-2007, 01:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Andy M.
You'd need a really tall grill lid to get a vertical turkey covered.
You could use a water smoker with the rack set to the mid position (assuming you have a 3 rack smoker).

Youd need a really big can of beer though. Ive done Cornish hens before and used those mini-cans of pineapple juice. You could also use the mini-cans of tomato juice (but Id probably use a different liquid than the tomato juice).

Not sure what kind of can youd need for a 15-20 pound turkey!

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