If you are the fortunate to work for a company that gives great holiday employee gifts and receive a gThankYou™ Turkey Gift Certificate, you’ll want to know a delicious way to prepare turkey that’s guaranteed to receive compliments from your family and guests.
My family loves turkey. It tastes delicious from the oven, but for us, the #1 way to cook a turkey is on a charcoal grill. It’s the easiest turkey recipe we know, the set-up is fast and the bird has a taste no oven or gas grill can match.
Use the “indirect” cooking method; that means charcoal is placed on the perimeter (around the edges) of the grill and a foil pan is in the center to catch drippings from the bird. You can buy foil pans from Weber dealers, or generic ones at the grocery store; we make our own from aluminum foil. If you decide to use foil, first fold the edges twice to create rigidity, then fold the corners tightly so it doesn’t leak. When you’re set up, it will look like the photo on the right.
Setting up the grill. Light the charcoal using your favorite method (lighter fluid, electric or gas starter or chimney with newspaper) and wait until all the briquets are alight. I use basic Kingsford charcoal, but any brand is fine, including some of the specialty varieties such as mesquite, hickory or apple wood. I also find the easiest way to start the charcoal is using a chimney and two sheets of newspaper.
When the coals are ready spread them into two piles, one on each side of the grill and carefully place the drip-pan in the middle. Make sure you use insulated grill mitts to protect your hands from the heat.
Preparing the turkey. Prepping the turkey is simple and fast. First, (this is the secret) cut a lemon or two into quarters and put the pieces in the turkey’s cavity. The lemon is a technique we from Marcella Hazan for preparing chicken; it keeps the bird moist, but
doesn’t impart much flavor. Second, prepare a mixture of roughly 1/2 cup olive or peanut oil, 1 tablespoon salt (we like kosher salt) and 1/2 tablespoon pepper (ideally freshground). Brush this mixture on the turkey to prevent burning. (Food safety note: we’re careful about reusing brushes that touch fresh meat, fish or poultry; wash with soap after use, fully dry and use only for meats afterward.) Tuck the neck skin flap in or attach it to the bird with a small skewer or sharp toothpick. Finally, truss the bird with string: first tie it snuggly once around the breast to hold the wings in place and keep them from burning or flopping; next tie the legs tightly together at the ends to hold them in place.
Cooking the turkey. This is the easiest part of all. Place the turkey in the middle of the grill over the drip pan. Grill about 15 minutes per pound; that means a 14-pound turkey should be on the grill 3-1/2 hours. After two hours or so carefully lift the grate while wearing mitts and add a few briquets to the charcoal on each side of the drip pan. Remove the turkey from the grill when it is 180˚F. Often the temperature rises a few degrees after you remove it from the grill.
Serving the turkey. Let the turkey sit 15 minutes or so before carving and serving. (I’ll talk about easy ways to carve a turkey in a future posting.)
Enjoy. That’s all there is to it. If you have comments or suggestions, post them below.Rick Kiley is President of gThankYou, LLC, a Madison, WI based seller of employee gifts best known for gThankYou™ Turkey Gift Cards.