Thanksgiving on the Grill


Most people associate the end of the summer with the end of grilling season, but it does not have to be that way. Imagine cooking for a big group on your smoker or your grill. Think of the colorful, changing leaves rustling around as children play football in the yard, and how much fun an outdoor cooking party can be.


Let’s take a look at two major methods of tackling the big bird outdoors. First, choose the perfect bird. Think about how many guests you have – the recommendation is to make about 1.5 pounds per person. Depending on the size of your group, this could be a tall order to fill. That is why planning now is a great idea.


Look for local farms, meat sales online, and talk to your local butcher, whether independent or in your regular supermarket. If all else fails, a frozen turkey can be easier to get. You just want to make sure you really get it fully defrosted before the big day.


One outdoor option is putting your smoker to work. The best approach to this is to begin with a brine. Basically, a mix of sugar, salt and spices, brines work to make your turkey as moist as possible.


You could also use a dry rub combined with a generous amount of salt. This works to lock in the moisture as well, but in this case you have to remove the rub/salt before cooking.


Get your smoker primed up with your favorite flavor of wood or charcoal. If you are cooking on a fire of around 250-300 degrees, you will probably want to cook it for 15-20 minutes per pound. You can decide how low or slow you want your smoking to go, just make sure you reach that magic number of 165 degrees for the internal temperature.


The other big option for an outdoor turkey is to use your grill. Here again you can use wood or charcoal. But in this case, instead of smoking the bird, you will be turning your grill into a huge outdoor oven. The cooking will be handled by the indirect heat of your grill.


You can basically prepare your turkey as you would for the indoor oven. But you don’t have to. Don’t be afraid to experiment with sauces and marinades, but do make sure you know how they taste before the actual meal.


Your best approach is to use a disposable roasting pan, indirect heat, and a grill with a cover.  If you get a fire of about 425-450 degrees going, you can expect a cook time of about 4 hours for a bird that is about 15 pounds. Keep the grill closed, but baste the turkey every 30 minutes or so, and rotate the pan on the grill halfway through the cook time. Again, make sure you have a safe internal temperature. And, no matter how you cook it, let your turkey rest for about 30 minutes before you slice it.

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