ONE MORE BITE
FIRE UP THE GRILL FOR THANKSGIVING
Thanksgiving comes with its own set of questions: How many cooks can fit in the kitchen? How do you feed a large crowd a sizeable whole turkey along with all the sides and serve everything at once? A 15 pound turkey usually takes up two thirds of a normal size oven for a good 4 to 5 hours. The most delicious answer to this problem is to cook the turkey on your outdoor grill which will free the oven up for all of your side dishes—in fact, in my family, it wouldn't be a holiday meal without my dad and I cooking a chipotle-based turkey on my Weber charcoal grill!
A turkey on the grill requires very little attention. Simply rub vegetable oil or olive oil over the entire turkey. Season with salt, pepper and dried herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage. Fill the cavity with fresh herbs and half of an orange or a lemon cut in half. Using a kettle type charcoal grill, cook the turkey indirect with coals spread on each side of the grill with a drip pan in the middle. Add a little water in the pan so the drippings don't burn. Soak wood chips in water for about 30 minutes prior to lighting the grill. Light the grill and sprinkle the wood chips over the hot coals. Set the seasoned turkey on the rack above the coals, close the lid and go about preparing the rest of the meal. No need to baste. It will take about 3 hours for a 15 lb. turkey because the grill runs a little hotter than the oven. You will usually have to add a few coals each hour to maintain the temperature.
To avoid excess browning, avoid any glazes or sugar on the surface. If the turkey starts to get too brown on the surface, just cover with foil. You will see that your turkey will naturally brown evenly, the skin will be crisp and the meat will be juicy and tender. Be sure to cook your turkey to 165° when the temperature is taken from the thickest part of the thigh. Tent with foil and allow the turkey to rest for about 30 minutes before carving.
Once you cook your first turkey on the grill, you will never go back to the oven again...You're free as a bird! So, go ahead...put that family-size pan of sweet potato casserole in the oven, along with Eddie's traditional stuffing, mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts. You'll even have room to heat up a few dozen crab balls...a Baltimore thing!