How To Grill Your Holiday Turkey

Grilling your turkey is not only easy and convenient, but it will also free up your kitchen for everything else that is usually going on at the holidays. By using the indirect method of grilling (no heat source directly underneath the food), you can think of your grill as your outdoor oven!

Since I tempted you with an alternate turkey preparation, Rolled Turkey Breast with Pear and Sage Stuffing, I thought you should have an option for a more “traditional” holiday turkey…

Feel free to adapt your favorite turkey recipe and use this as a guide to grilling your holiday turkey.  I would, however, brine your turkey first, regardless of how you’re cooking it, for maximum deliciousness!

Grilled Whole Turkey

Serves 8 to 10

Bourbon Molasses Brine
Whole turkey (12 to 15 pounds), thawed
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 orange, sliced
1 bulb garlic, cut in-half to expose cloves
Fresh herbs – sage, thyme, rosemary
4 celery ribs, cut into chunks
2 yellow onions, thickly sliced
2 carrots, cut into chunks

Remove turkey from the brine one hour prior to cooking. Pat dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Discard the brine. Season the turkey inside and out with salt and pepper. Loosely stuff the cavity (and neck cavity) with orange slices, garlic, and herbs – save some herbs for the roasting pan. Tuck wings under and truss turkey – even if you just tie the legs together. Trussing keeps everything close to the body of the bird so that it all cooks at the same rate.

Scatter the chopped celery, onions, carrots, and remaining herbs in the bottom of a foil roasting pan. You can either place the turkey directly on top of the vegetables or on a roasting rack above the vegetables (I used the Bull Stainless Steel Reversible Roasting/Rib Rack and the bird sat there perfectly).

Set up your grill for indirect cooking over medium-low heat (300° to 350°F). Place the pan so it is not directly over any heat. Close the grill cover and cook until the skin is nicely browned* and the juices at the thigh run clear. About 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours (12 to 15 minutes per pound). To test for doneness, the temperature of the thigh, away from the bone, should be 170°F and the breast should be between 155° to 160°F.

Transfer turkey to carving board and tent with foil for 20-30 minutes before carving.

TIP:  It’s best to remove all the meat from the bone, even if you are not serving it. Turkey left on the bone will continue to cook and dry out.

*Have plenty of foil on-hand as a brined turkey will brown a lot faster than one that has not been brined. If your turkey starts looking too browned, too early, just loosely cover with aluminum foil and continue roasting.

Stay tuned next week for Sides, Sides, Sides (side dishes)! 🙂

Cheers and Happy Grilling!
– Jeff

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