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Wednesday, November 16. 2016
Re-posted from past Thanksgiving seasons -
We did one turkey in the oven, stuffed with cornbread stuffing, and the other one on the grill with occasional doses of soaked apple wood chunks from my neighbor's tree, and with white wine in the steam water. Both birds were brined 24 hrs before cooking, and each around 18 lbs. but I feel that's a waste of time.
We had plenty of family and friends to eat it all up.
I think people preferred the grilled (no stuffing in the grilled bird). It was my first time trying grilled turkey. Beginner's luck: It came out perfectly: moist, with a pleasant hint of smokiness. It took around 3 1/2 hrs to cook. Keeping the temp at near 325 involved carefully titrating the number of briquettes and fruitwood chunks to keep the heat low, but to not let the fire go out. Basted it with veg. oil and honey. Just for fun, I use my heavy-duty poultry injector to squirt sherry or cider into the meat. Why not? I don't buy butterball turkeys.
Nice grill, eh? This cast-iron thing weights 500 lbs. I had to assemble the darn thing off a truck, and got most of it right. Except for the wheels, which fell off. Now it takes a few pall-bearers to move it.
This is halfway:
The puppy seemed equally happy with scraps from the grilled and from the oven-roasted turkey.
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can't believe it , brother has same grill and smoker, he fried two turkeys and made an amazing filet with port wine sauce and peppercorns. will send pictures along. it has been a food fest here in new orleans and today we lunch at galatoires. crazy in the quarter.
Not surprised, Opie. Good stuff.
That's my Memphis grill-smoker-propane duo. Cheap, strong as iron, and darn good. Throw out that Weber grill trash. This thing weights 650 lbs.
It was a fun puzzle to assemble, though.
My wife is from St Louis and learned how to cook a turkey on the Weber from her dad. She does this every year and the results are usually great. She will not try brining the turkey even though I have wanted to try this. We get our turkey from a local farmer who raises the birds in a field and slaughters them a week before Thanksgiving. Would brining make an improvement in this fresh a bird?
Greetings from St. Louis!.
Tell your sister that it is the only way to go. That is exactly the reason that a grilled bird (or cooked any way) is moist, the brine helps retain the moisture.
Rinse after removed from brine, never tastes salty, I won't do it any other way....
Brining is always good for a turkey, no matter how fresh. Try it and you'll see. It needs to brine overnight.
My mom started doing the Thanksgiving turkey on a plain ol Weber grill years ago, even cooking it halfway in the oven and finishing on the grill is far superior to anything you can do with an oven. As she got older she started doing it on a gas grill, and even that makes your average oven job taste like McDonalds chicken. I'm afraid if I had something done proper in a smoker I might die a euphoric death.
The last Xmas my father was alive we smoked a turkey. We had to put a blanket over the smoker to compensate for a cold snap. We didn't use a six hundred pound grill, but a $50 vertical deal that weighed maybe 15-20 pounds. Turned out just fine.
2) If the grill is really that massive - you can preheat the entire thing with a roaring fire, then put the bird in when the coals are all but done. The (unstuffed) bird will cook from retained heat.
Call it tandoori turkey.
3) st. louis - if your wife does not want the trouble of brining, you can simply by a kosher bird. Part of what makes meat kosher is salting/soaking it to remove traces of blood (which is forbidden for Jews to eat).
So a kosher bird = pre-brined.
Dang, I was counting on the puppy to tell which way was better...
Oh, the puppy did INDEED have a preference. Which one, you ask?
Whichever provided the most morsels for his consumption, of course! Puppy ain't no fool...
I usually break the bird down by breaking the back and cutting though the backbone so you have the top and bottom halves separated. Take a good sharp filet knife, cut around the shoulder joints (I leave some extra meat around the end- I'm a wing man) and remove. Use the same type of knife to remove the breast meat, Start at the front with short strokes and the blade against the bone. You will have 2 nice roasts- leave the skin on. Pop the thigh joints, trim the meat fron the pelvic bone. Slice along either side of the thighbone, pop the knee and cut through the joint. You'll then have 2 drumsticks, with a nice chunk of boneless dark meat on the end.
This will be a messy operation the first time you do it, but it is well worth the effort. For the stock and gravy, roast the separated bones and carcass until nicely carmelized. Don't forget the wing tips and neck, and giblets if you've got them. If you are good with the knife, you will have saved the little meaty scallops on the back as well
Take the 2 breast sections, wrap the extra skin around, and can secure with butcher's twine or skewers if you like. Do the same with the thigh meat on the drumsticks. Then season, marinate, dry rub, brine, or dry rub along with the wings as you see fit. Roast or grill however you like until the white meat has a center temp of 155 degrees or so, and 160 or so for the dark meat.
Allow the meat to set up at least 20-30 minutes, or overnight in the fridge if you are preparing for the next day. You will have easy to slice boneless white and dark meat, and still have the wings and drumsticks for those of us who enjoy dining like Henry VIII. The meat will be moist, firm, and easy to reheat.
Granted, you don't have the beautiful glowing presentation of the golden bird in the Rockwell painting, but you also won't have the drama of Mom and Aunt Mildred freaking out about the bird being overcooked/undercooked while the sweet potatoes burned waiting for a plastic popper to tell if the poor dried out beast in the oven will no longer transmit salmonella. Another plus- Pops won't have to go to the ER get his thumb reattached after attemping to whittle on the the crusty smoking mummy of a once proud gobbler after a Carling Black Label or nine. Ah, memories...
Yes - we did this once when we had a small oven and 2 large turkeys. We boned them both out. Great, meaty stock for soup and gravy!
It is possible to do a very nice presentation for buffet-style service. Wrap a brick or two in foil (heat it up to keep the meat warm.)
Get the skin nice and dark.
Then slice each breast crosswise, front to back. You now have slices of white flesh with a rim of dark skin. Do the same with the dark meat. Fan out the slices slightly, covering the sides and top of the brick(s). The bricks stand in for the ribcage of the bird, and the host is freed from carving duty.
I own the same grill, but I put my bird over the pan on the left side and build the fire to the right in front of the vent. Yes you have to turn the bird but the fire is easier to manage as you dont have to leave the grill grate in place over the fire if arranged as such.
I've been grilling my Thanksgiving bird on the Big Green Egg for the past eight years. You can't beat the taste. Always brine the bird. How about posting some great brine recipes? I'm going to try apple cider brine this year. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
BD, can you tell me what kind of grill, specifically, you are using? I have been in the market for a smoker for a while, have searched online and am not finding one that looks like yours.
It's this one: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Char-Griller-Duo-3-Burner-Propane-Gas-Charcoal-Grill-5050/204216340?cm_mmc=Shopping|Base&gclid=CIiOqZWo_8ECFUkQ7AodDg4A8g&gclsrc=aw.ds
Could you clarify what you felt was a waste of time? The bird in the oven, on the grill, the apple wood chunks, the white wine, the brining the fact the birds were both 18 pounds or the whole exercise?
I have the same grill, only with the side box smoker attachment. Best darn grill ever! Grilling turkey this way is by far and away the best, with frying being a close second. The brining, however, is the key.
Our son-in-law does the deep-fried turkey. Is really good. We're traditional oven-roasted, with stuffing. It's turned out well. Next day, the bones get popped in the pressure cooker for soup.
Condiments - we have a home-made cranberry sauce that goes back to a 1937 cookbook my parents were given as a wedding gift. Mum always made the sauce up to her last year (she died at 99), so now the chore goes to the grandchild known to be the least cook-worthy (along with a dessert from Marble Slab).
I baste my wet smoked turkey with peanut oil and Tolkay's Poultry seasoning and smoke over lump mesquite...
You should try it!
We used to have a dog that was a turkey fiend. At about 15 years old he hobbled and limped everywhere, but pull a turkey out of the oven and he acted like a neglected puppy. Damndest thing you'd ever see. He didn't act like that for anything else except turkey.