25 Nov Smoke or Grill the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
It’s one of our favorite times of the year. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to step back, say thanks, enjoy family, and eat delicious food. Thank you to all of you that made this an absolutely spectacular year for BPI Outdoor Living.
We wanted to share our two favorite recipes for smoking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey from our partners at Twin Eagles Grills and Primo Grills. Many of you have this equipment after your outdoor kitchen installation this year. For those of you that don’t yet have a premium outdoor living space, we’d love to chat…perhaps over some turkey.
Be well. Stay healthy. Enjoy your holiday events this year!
Primo Grills’ Turkey with Whiskey Brine & Glaze Recipe
Prep Time: 2 hours
Total Cooking Time: 3-6 hours
- 1 12-14lb. whole turkey
- 1 gallon water
- 1 bucket ice
- 2 cups kosher sea salt
- 2 cups Jack Daniel’s® Tennessee Whiskey
- 2 whole oranges (sliced into 8 segments each with peel on)
- 2 whole white onions (sliced into 8 segments each with skin peeled off)
- 2 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 6 fresh sage leaves
- 0.5 cup Jack Daniel’s® Tennessee Whiskey
- 0.5 cup honey
- 1 whole orange (squeezed) or substitute with 1/4 cup orange juice
- 0.5 stick butter
Thaw the turkey and remove the neck and giblets from the main cavity and neck cavity. Rinse thoroughly inside and out and pat dry. Refrigerate in a roasting pan with a rack.
In an 8-quart pot or larger add one gallon of water, 2 cups kosher sea salt and 2 cups of brown sugar. On medium heat, stir the mixture until most of the salt and sugar are dissolved.
Add the oranges, onions, peppercorns, and sage leaves. Stir the ingredients occasionally and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover and allow to steep for one hour.
Add ice and stir mixture to melt the ice until the mixture is cold to the touch. Add whiskey and stir mixture.
Place the turkey, neck and giblets (optional-see introductory story) in a brine bag or 5-gallon bucket with a food safe liner. Pour the brine in until it fully covers the turkey. Add extra water if needed. Move the turkey around in the brine to remove any air that is trapped in the cavity.
Place the brining turkey in a refrigerator or cooler with ice (make sure the turkey remains at 40°F (4.4°C) or below). The turkey can be brined overnight or up to 2 days. Rotate the turkey 180° once a day to ensure that the turkey is evenly brined.
Remove the turkey from the brine the day before you plan to cook it, pat the skin dry, place it on a roaster rack and pan to allow it to drain and refrigerate it uncovered overnight. This will allow the skin to dry to promote a crispy skin. Discard the brine mixture.]
In a sauce pan on low heat, melt the butter, then slowly whisk in the honey and fresh orange juice until the mixture is bubbling mildly. Be careful not to scorch it.
Remove from the heat, allow to cool a few minutes, then whisk in the whiskey. Set aside.
Depending on the cooking temperature you can roast or smoke the turkey. Cooking times will vary and you can estimate the roasting time at 325°F (163°C) at 15 minutes per pound and the smoking time at 250°F (121°C) at 25 minutes per pound. For example, the 13 lb turkey we used will have an estimated roasting time of 3 hours and 15 minutes, while smoking the same size turkey at will take at least 5 hours and 25 minutes.
For either cooking method you should cook the bird by internal temperature, not by the estimated time. Cook the turkey until the thickest part of the thigh reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) using an instant-read or remote thermometer. Some prefer to pull the turkey off the grill at 160°F (71°C) knowing that the turkey will continue to cook while it is resting, and to lower the risk of overcooking the breast meat.
Set up the grill for indirect cooking and heat it to your preferred temperature.
Pin the wing tips to the breast with toothpicks to keep the wing tips from blackening. Alternately, you can fold them behind the back. Trim off the excess skin around the neck cavity or stretch the skin and pin it with a few toothpicks. Truss the legs with butcher’s string for a nice presentation.
There will not be a lot of drippings from the turkey, but you may want to catch the glaze as it drips off the bird. We placed an aluminum foil pan between the heat deflector plates and cooking grates.
To promote a uniformly browned turkey we place the turkey on a roasting rack, then place it directly on the cooking grates.
Baste the turkey with the glaze mixture every 30 minutes until it is fully cooked.
To prevent the skin from getting too dark you can tent it loosely with aluminum foil at any point during the cooking time. We didn’t need to do this.
To cook the neck and giblets, place them in a small pan or iron skillet and pour enough glaze in the pan to cover half of the pieces. If you don’t have enough room in the grill you can place them directly on the cooking grates. They will be done well before the turkey, so check them for doneness when glazing the turkey.
When the thickest part of the turkey thigh reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), remove the turkey from the grill and allow the turkey to rest on a platter for 20 minutes before carving. It is popular to tent the turkey loosely with aluminum foil to allow some air circulation while the turkey is resting, but we did not see the need to do it.
Twin Eagles Grills’ Sage & Citrus Rotisserie Turkey Recipe
Prep Time: 1 hours
Total Cooking Time: 2.5 – 3 hours
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 peeled garlic cloves
- 1 gallon cold water
- 1 whole turkey, about 12 pounds
- 2 small oranges, cut in half
- 1 whole bulb of garlic, cut in half
- 1 bunch fresh sage
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Remove and discard the neck and giblets from the turkey. Rinse the turkey, well. Trim any excess fat from the turkey, to minimize splattering on your Twin Eagles grill.
- To make the brine, combine the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic cloves and water in a large, non-reactive container. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar, then add the turkey, making sure that it’s submerged completely in the brine. Add more water if necessary. Place the container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- When you’re ready to cook, remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Discard the brine. Stuff the 4 orange halves, the 2 garlic bulb halves and the bunch of fresh sage inside the cavity of the turkey. Using butcher’s twine, truss the turkey to keep the wings tucked in, and tie the legs of the turkey together, to keep the aromatics from falling out and to ensure even roasting.
- Position one set of rotisserie forks on the far end of the spit rod. Slide the spit into the neck end of the turkey and out the other side, just underneath the drumsticks. Slide the other set of rotisserie forks onto the spit rod and insert into the other end of the turkey to hold it firmly in place. Make sure the turkey is centered on the spit before tightening the forks into place. To prevent the rotisserie forks from slipping, use a small pair of pliers to tighten the thumbscrews. Rub the turkey with olive oil and season the turkey liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Light the rear rotisserie burner and let preheat for 5 minutes. Place the spit rod on the grills spit rod saddles and inset into the rotisserie motor. Turn on the rotisserie motor and let the turkey rotate, with the lid closed, until the internal temperature reaches 175ºF in the thickest part of the thigh (the meat thermometer should not be touching the boneor the spit rod when you test), about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total.
- When the turkey is fully cooked, turn off the rotisserie burner and the motor and carefully transfer the spit from the grill to a cutting board. Loosely cover the turkey with aluminum foil and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving (the internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees during this time).