A couple years ago my husband and I volunteered to cook the turkey for Thanksgiving. I had never made a turkey before, so anything was game - but I did want to do something different than the traditional roasted turkey. We tossed around ideas but finally decided on brining and then bbqing our bird - a very non-traditional turkey compared to what we were used to. It is honestly the best turkey I have had to date, I can't wait for this Christmas to do it again.
First thing is first, the turkey. Any size will work, so get one that is big enough to feed your family. To play it safe I go with 1 to 1.5 pounds per person, maybe a bit more for leftovers. Keep in mind that my family is full of big eaters, so adjust accordingly. :)
Second, the container. We used an ice chest for a couple reasons; it was big enough to hold an 18lb turkey and it would be able to keep the turkey cold throughout brining. Another option is to use a brining bag or a 5-gallon bucket, covered and placed in the fridge. The turkey MUST be kept cold for the reason that brining does not preserve the meat. Make sure the temperature stays below 40 degrees.
Third, the brine. Turkey is so versatile that most flavors will work great. Ours was a herb & garlic mix, which worked out wonderful. There are many different brine recipes online or you can make your own up. Here is the recipe we used:
Garlic & Herb Turkey Brine
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon rosemary, dry
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon sage
3 cups ice cold water
ice - 3 to 7 pounds
1. Combine all ingredients in stockpot and bring to low boil
2. Remove from stove, let cool. Put in separate container and add ice cold water
3. Place in refrigerator and allow to get cold
4. Put turkey into brining container and pour in brine solution. Make sure to fill the cavity of the turkey
5. Add ice half way up around the turkey
6. Pour in cold water until bird is covered
7. Keep cold (below 40 degrees)and let soak overnight, or about 10 hours
8. Let turkey drain before cooking
Now to BBQ that turkey!
I am far from a BBQ expert, so I am going to keep this as simple as possible. Please excuse me if any terminology is incorrect. :P
Set up a charcoal bbq as seen below. Hot charcoals on each side of bbq with a drip pan in the middle. We started off with a bit of beer in our drip pan, mostly because we could. ;) Cover and allow bbq to reach between 325 and 350 degrees.
Place the turkey, breast side down, in center of bbq. Cover and let cook for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes our turkey looked like this:
Now it is time to flip the turkey, we have an awesome pair of Ronco Barbeque Gloves that worked great for this. This is also a good opportunity to empty out the drip pan, ours was already pretty full.
The turkey will now need to cook between 3 and 4 hours depending on the weight.
A FEW TIPS THAT HELPED US
A FEW TIPS THAT HELPED US
1. Keep a spray bottle filled with water near the bbq. Just in case the bird catches on fire, you will want to put it out. I am not sure if this is proper or not, however, it worked for us.
2. Add charcoal when necessary. The amount of charcoal that is used to start the bbq is around the amount you will want the entire time.
3. Empty both drip pan and ash pan as needed. It may be a pain in the you know what, but it will increase the potential for your final product.
When the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees it is ready to be removed from the grill. Yay!
Let rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.