how to grill a turkey
- jim t
how do i grill a turkey, i have a standard sized weber grill and one brined and butterflied turkey. how do i arrange the coals? what spices should i season the turkey with? anything i can do to keep the turkey juicy ? any tips at all would really help thanks!
IMO the most important step you take when grilling (or roasting) a turkey is to brine it beforehand. It makes a huge difference in keeping the meat moist and full of flavor. For an 18lb turkey I brine for at least 24 hours in a salt solution to which I add molasses or brown sugar and some aromatics - bay, onion, cloves, juniper berries, peppercorns or whatever you like. After brining, rinse the turkey well and pat dry before starting it on the grill.
A good source for grilling turkey is Steven Raichlen's website. The link is to his brined and grilled Thanksgiving turkey recipe.
You're going to place the turkey on the center of the grill. You'll need a drip pan on the grate under the turkey. A disposable aluminum pan works fine. Arrange the coals stacked 2-3 deep on each side of the grill so that none will be directly under the turkey. Weber makes a handy accessory called charcoal rails which I found to be a big help. The rails serve to keep the coals on the sides and prevent them from spreading out toward the center of the grill.
Use a meat thermometer. In my experience a turkey cooks much faster on the grill than in an oven.
You can get more info on the Weber Grill web site
Turkey on the Weber
a covered Weber with a 22" grill
10 lbs. of good quality charcoal
a set of charcoal rails to keep the charcoal banked along the sides an
aluminum drip pan to fit between the rails a cooking rack to hold the
turkey long tongs and cooking mitts 15 -16 lb. fresh turkey, unstuffed
The Turkey cannot be gigantic because the lid will not fit on the barbecue.
A good size is under 16 lbs. and fresh rather than frozen.
Rinse the bird in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the skin with vegetable oil.
Open all the air vents on the bottom of the grill and leave them open
during the cooking. Ignite all 10lbs of the charcoal- or start half and
add the rest. Start the coals in the middle of the grill, allowing 45
minutes for all of them to light and to be coated with grey ash. Add the remaining briquets.
Transfer the coals to the sides behind the charcoal rails, using the long
tongs and the charcoal mitts. Center the drip pan between the rails. Add about 8 to 10 twigs of applewood, add the grill, add the Turkey on the cooking rack and the Weber Grill Cover/Lid. Open the air vent in the Cover. Optional: soak the applewood twigs for 30 minutes before adding or use hickory, almond pear wood or even, walnut shells. or, just use mesquite charcoal.
Now, sit back and relax.
There's no need to baste. Leave the barbecue covered and don't
peek-lifting the lid releases the heat and will slow the cooking process.
So, put it on the Grill and forget it for two hours for a 15 lb. unstuffed
Remove the bird when the meat thermometer reads 170°F in the center of the breast and 185°F in the thigh. The meat and the juices may be slightly pink, this is characteristic of the smoking process.
Let the bird rest for 30 to 40 minutes before carving. The juices in the
Drip Pan will make an excellent gravy.
The first year that I followed Max's instructions for this grilled Turkey,
we went to a movie while the bird cooked and came home 2 hours and 30 minutes later to a perfectly roasted 16-lb. bird!
Do not be alarmed if the meat looks pink, it is not uncooked. The smoking method turns the turkey flesh pink, just like the pink of a smoked ham.
Sam and Cynthia have covered the basics. Mine usually cooks surprisingly quickly. I use foil to cover parts at risk of burning. A good sized bird can flop over the charcoal at times even if the charcoal is confined to the edges of the Weber. I can't help with the butterfied part however as mine have always been whole birds.