The leaves are changing, the weather is changing, and the stores are changing (or decorating…) – yes, Thanksgiving is just 22 days away! Since we are so very thankful for our grills, we are continuing our Thankful it’s Thanksgiving series with several recipes and techniques for grilling that Thanksgiving Day feast. We begin with Grilled Whole Turkey, a flavorful and straightforward method for grilling the big bird.
For whole grilled turkey, the most important ingredients are patience and butter. It will take about 20 minutes per pound to cook, and the use of butter will help prevent burning. For added flavor and moisture, frequently baste with a mixture of wine, chicken stock, rosemary, lemon juice, salt, and pepper while cooking. One necessary piece of equipment is a quality meat thermometer to ensure proper doneness without overcooking. So fire up the grill, grab a snack and drink, and let’s roast that bird… thankfully.
Grilled Whole Turkey Ingredients
- 1 (15 to 20 pound) turkey, fresh or thawed, with giblets and neck removed.
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature or softened, divided
- Turkey Stuffing or your favorite stuffing/dressing recipe
- 3 to 4 slices uncooked bacon
- Basting Juice (see recipe below) or use the juices that drain off
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Neck and gizzard
- 2 teaspoons chopped dried rosemary
- 3 cups chicken stock or water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup sweet Marsala wine or port wine*
- 1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine*
- Juice from two lemons
Grilled Whole Turkey Directions
- Clean turkey well, removing any bits of pin feathers and cleaning the cavity of any remaining pieces of innards. Pat dry with paper towels. Secure legs with twine or a clip (optional).
- Preheat barbecue grill. Instead of using a roasting pan, it is easier to use a homemade pan from extra heavy-duty foil (using three layers of aluminum foil and making it just big enough to hold the bird – the sides need to be about 2 1/2-inches high).
- Rub the inside cavity of the turkey with 1/4 cup of the softened butter.
- Stuff the inside cavity with your favorite stuffing/dressing recipe. Also place a little stuffing in the neck cavity, tuck the neck skin under and skewer shut. With any remaining turkey stuffing, stuff a little of it between the skin and the breast meat.
- With the remaining 1/4-cup butter, rub some over the skin of the turkey. Salt and pepper the turkey and place the slices of uncooked bacon on top of the prepared turkey.
- Place the turkey crosswise on the gas or charcoal grill so that the pan is evenly distributed over the two sets of jets. Set the flame so that a temperature of 300 to 325 degrees F. is maintained (usually the lowest setting). Cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil for the majority of the cooking time. Estimated cooking time is approximately 20 minutes per pound at 300 degrees F.
- Remove the aluminum foil for the last hour of cooking. Every once in while, baste the turkey with the juices (or with the basting juice recipe below). If you have “hot spots” in the jets of the grill, twice during the cooking turn the turkey around (and the pan, of course) so that one side is not more cooked than another.
- Toward the end of the cooking time, open the grill and insert the meat thermometer into the fleshy part of the thigh and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. (remember that the turkey will continue to cook after it is removed from the heat of the fire). NOTE: The USDA has come up with a one-temperature-suits-all for poultry safety: 165° F. For safety and doneness, the internal temperature should be checked with a meat thermometer.
- In the absence of a meat thermometer, pierce the turkey with a fork in several places; juices should be clear with no trace of pink. NOTE: The old-fashioned way of wiggling the leg to see if it’s loose will give you an indication that the turkey is ready, but unfortunately, by the time the leg is truly loose, the turkey is sadly overcooked. The only reliable test for doneness is to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone.
- Allow the cooked turkey to sit for approximately 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
- In a heavy pot over medium-high heat, melt butter; sauté onion until just translucent. Add the neck and gizzard; continue cooking for approximately 4 minutes. Add the rosemary and chicken stock or water; simmer until reduced by halve. Remove from heat and strain well.
- Use the gizzard and neck in the stuffing or the gravy. For the basting juice, mix together the strained stock mixture, marsala or port wine, vermouth, and the juice of the lemons.
Taken from WhatsCookingAmerica.net