I've been meaning to document the outcome of my Thanksgiving cooking adventures for a few days now, but just keep forgetting.
Although we initially had decided on the 'buy a fully cooked turkey approach', the closure of the local Honeybaked store in Sunnyvale led Young and I to try cooking it ourselves. I called up Whole Foods about a week in advance, and put in an order for a small (10-12 pound) fresh turkey.
I picked up the turkey Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Wednesday early evening, I placed the turkey, two gallons of water, two cups of kosher salt, and a few handfuls of ice cubes into a cooler. I left the cooler in the corner of the kitchen.
The next morning, I placed a small bag of mesquite wood chips in a bowl of water and left them on the counter.
I let the turkey sit in the brining solution until about 1pm on Thursday. After pouring off the water, removing the neck and giblets, I patted the turkey dry. I put the rotisserie skewer through the middle of the turkey as best I could. I used paper clips to secure the wings to the side of the breast. I used a set of paperclips strung together to secure the legs to the rotisserie skewer in the rear.
I turned on the grill, setting all burners to high to warm it up. After about 15 minutes, I turned one burner off, set the other to medium, removed the grilling surface to make room, and placed my oven thermometer in the corner.
While the temperature inside the grill equilibrated, I melted some butter in the microwave. I also placed the wood chips into the grill to start them smoking after transferring them to an aluminum dish and draining off the water.
A few minutes later, I carried the skewer-mounted turkey out to the grill and hooked up the rotisserie motor. The internal temperature had settled to about 325 degrees, which is just about right. After placing the turkey on the grill and turning on the rotisserie motor, I began to apply the butter using a small brush.
With the butter applied, I closed the lid and set my timer for 30 minutes. From that point on, I would only briefly lift the lid to check the grill temperature, making minor adjustments in order to keep the it between 300 and 350 degrees.
After two hours of this, I took my first temperature readings from the breast and thigh. Breast was at 150 and thigh at 160, telling me I had a little while to go.
At 2 hours and 30 minutes, the temperature readings came out just right: 173 in the thigh, and 165 in the breast.
I removed the turkey from the grill, removed the skewer, placed the turkey into a large roasting pan, covered it with foil, and placed it into the unheated oven to rest.
About an hour later, I removed the turkey from the over, and began the carving and serving.
- Skin was a wonderful golden brown, crispy and flavorful.
- All of the meat (breast, thigh, and wing), was perfectly moist and flavorful.
- The mesquite chips gave the meat a slight reddish color and a wonderful light smoky flavor.
- It takes two people and some needle-nose pliers (for working the paper clips) to properly secure the turkey to the rotisserie skewer. Make sure everything is as tightened down as it can be.
- Next time, I will probably use something like picture hanging wire to tie the legs to the skewer. Stringing paperclips together worked, but was not ideal. I still think that using paperclips to pin the wings to the breast worked wonderfully, and I will try that again.