I've never been a huge fan of deep-fried turkey. Many years ago, when I lived in the Alabama, my friends went through the trouble of buying and setting up all the special frying equipment, and the turkey did taste pretty good. But it wasn't exceptional, and it didn't justify the expense or the clean-up afterwards. For me, nothing beats the taste of a grill-roasted turkey.
I get great results by cooking my turkey in my Weber grill. The standard Weber allows you to cook up to a 15 lb. bird--big enough for my purposes--and it comes out crispy, smokey and delicious. If you’re afraid to try this for the first time at Thanksgiving, wait a few months and buy a turkey on sale when you have the craving and try it out.
Although I’ve stopped using charcoal briquettes a long time ago, and now strictly use natural hardwood charcoal, this recipe works best with standard Kingsford briquettes. The idea is for the coals to cook slowly and evenly. Never use lighter fluid...always start the fire with a few pieces of crumbled newspaper under a charcoal chimney. And never, ever use a product like Match Lite, unless you like your food to taste like gasoline.
Weber grill, with the dome top
Kingsford charcoal briquettes
Heavy duty aluminum pan (disposable)
Whole turkey, up to 15 lbs., thawed and brined (see my previous blog about brining a turkey)
Olive oil (to rub on turkey)
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
½ lb. (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
If you want stuffing, cook it separately.
Light 8 to 10 lbs. of charcoal in the grill…depending on the size of the turkey and how cold it is outside.
Remove the giblets from the turkey. Place the bird in the aluminum pan.
In a small bowl, mix the granulated garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper. Add any other seasonings you like.
Coarsely chop the onions and celery. Place them in a another bowl. Mix them with the melted butter and 1/3 of the salt/pepper/garlic powder mixture. Place a small handful of this “stuffing” mixture in the neck cavity of the turkey. Place the rest in the body cavity (where the stuffing would usually go.) You can fasten the bird with turkey skewers if you like. This “stuffing” is strictly to flavor the turkey…you don’t eat it!
Rub the outside of the entire turkey with the olive oil and sprinkle the rest of the garlic/onion/salt/pepper mixture on the outside of the bird. Make sure you get the bird on the bottom as well.
When the coals in the grill have ashed over, spread them to the outside edges of the Weber equally. Put the cooking grill rack in place. Place the aluminum pan with the turkey in the center of the grill, keeping it away from the direct heat of the coals. If you're using a meat thermometer (recommended), insert the probe into the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to hit the bone. Place the lid on the grill. (You may need to bend your pan a bit.) Open the vents on the bottom of the Weber as well as the lid. It's important to get air circulating!
No basting is necessary.
Now here’s the tough part: DO NOT OPEN THE GRILL TO CHECK ON THE TURKEY! (If you must look, shine a flashlight into the vent holes on the lid to take a peek at the pop-up timer, if there is one.) The whole point is to keep the heat inside the kettle. You’ll know your turkey is done when no more smoke or heat rises from the grill, and the turkey inside stops making sizzling noises.
Remove the turkey and let it rest at least 20 minutes before carving.