People always raise their eyebrows when I tell them we grill our turkey. Not only is it ah-mazing - it frees up my kitchen. And since I am currently a one-oven-in-the-kitchen girl, I need all the kitchen space I can get.
Step 1 - Select your turkey. We are a Butterball family. It was good enough for Daddy so it is good enough for me. The rule of thumb is one pound per person serving. I got a 12 pound turkey for four grown ups and two children......we should be good. After all, part of the fun is the left overs!
Step 2 - Brine the turkey. This is a new step that Daddy never used. My first Thanksgiving as a married lady, I was hosting Thanksgiving and went a little nuts in Williams Sonoma. I saw the brine mixture and went back and forth over whether or not to try it. I did - it was fabulous - end of story. Daddy did have my version before he died and said I perfected his turkey. This is the best compliment I have ever and probably will ever receive. THAT is how much stock I put into this grilled turkey. I bought my turkey on Saturday and it has been thawing in the refrigerator. Tonight, Mr. Bird will get his brine bath.
Step 3 - grill the turkey. At 10:00 am, the hubby will head outside to prep the grill. It takes about an hour to get the coals ready and grill up to temperature. NOTE: KEEP AN OVEN THERMOATOR IN THE GRILL. At this time, I take the turkey out of the brine bath, wash it and pat dry and sit out to come up to room temperature.
Coals: Arrange the coals in a half circle on one side of the charcoal grate to ensure higher temperatures on that side. Fill a drip pan with warm water to help maintain the grill temperature (ideally between 300 - 350 degrees).
I stuff the cavity with onions, apples and celery. I place the bird breast side down in a roasting pan with some chicken stock and more onions, apples and celery.
After an hour, turn the turkey over and finish cooking. Baste it. Keep an eye on the legs and wings and cover with aluminum foil if they get too brown as they will be done before the breast.
Your turkey is done when the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh (do not touch the bone). Anywhere between 4 and 5 hours depending on the size of your bird.
NOTE: Every 30-45 minutes, the hubby will replenish the coals. He has them ready to go on the grill with a helper to hold the bird and lift the grate. The key is to keep the lid off as little as possible in an effort to keep the heat between 300-375. Baste the bird as needed.
REST - let the turkey rest covered loosely in foil for 30 minutes before carving.
Gravy - strain the pan drippings and add chicken stock to make 4 cups of liquid. Skim the fat off the top.
Melt 1/4 cup unsalted butter, whisk in 1/4 cup all purpose flour until it is the color of peanut butter. Add the stock/drippings mixture and add 1/3 cup white wine, bring to a boil and whish until all the lumps are gone. Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
And there you have it - a crowd pleaser that folks will rave about.
It makes me so sad that in all the years I sat by my father's side doing this, I don't have a single picture of him grilling his turkey. This is without a doubt, one of my best and strongest childhood memories. When I think of the holidays, Daddy's grilled turkey and Thanksgiving is the first thing that comes to my mind. If you have ever eaten this at our table, I hope you will enjoy this recipe with your family. We'll be out by the grill (freezing our booties off) this year and raising a glass of bourbon to my Dad and counting all our blessings.
I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving. Say it with me now.......GOBBLE, GOBBLE Y'ALL!