For me, deep-fried turkey is just too much damn work: finding a safe spot in the yard to blast the propane-fueled fryer so that you don’t burn your house down, standing outside and freezing your ass off while it fries, and then disposing of gallons of used oil at the end of it all. And making sure the oil is at the right temperature so you don’t get a scorched turkey on the outside and raw turkey on the inside. Sure, they now have indoor turkey fryers, but I’m not crazy about that idea, either.
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.
The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.
Although I’m a purist and always use natural hardwood charcoal, this recipe works best with Kingsford briquettes. The idea is for the coals to cook slowly and evenly. And, unless you want your turkey to taste like gasoline, never use lighter fluid…always start your fire with a few pieces of crumbled newspaper under a charcoal chimney.
Weber grill, with the dome top
Kingsford charcoal briquettes (don’t use Match Lite or other pre-soaked briquettes)
Heavy duty aluminum pan (disposable)
Whole turkey, up to 15 lbs, thawed and brined (see my 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 granulated onion
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.
If you want stuffing, make it separately and cook it separately. (A great recipe in my next blog.)
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, granulated onion, salt and pepper Add any other seasonings you like.
Coarsely chop the onions and celery. Place them in a another bowl. Mix 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!
The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.
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, 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. Important to get air circulating!
My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away! Time for a cocktail!
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 15 minutes before carving.
If you pull the turkey out too early and find that it still needs cooking, or if your coals die out too soon, simply place the bird in a 350-degree oven to finish. It will still have that wonderful smokey flavor from the grill.
Beautifully grilled, and perfectly cooked in less than 2 hours!