How to Grill a Turkey for Thanksgiving Day

roasted chicken

Fire up the Barbecue and Cook a Turkey for Family and Friends

When the very first Thanksgiving occurred, I’m sure both the Pilgrims and Indians had no idea that they were creating the tradition most synonymously known with America. They probably also didn’t realize that cooking a turkey has become an absolute art form around the Thanksgiving Holiday.

When it comes to cooking a turkey, it may be baked, deep fried, or grilled. With so many grill masters across the country, they have begun to take the Thanksgiving turkey out of the oven and into the grill. Here is how to grill a turkey for a Thanksgiving meal or just a family dinner from start to finish.

Thawing the Turkey

The best way to thaw a turkey is in the fridge over a period of several days. This will ensure that the bird stays cool enough not to grow bacteria, but still above the freezing temperature so that it slowly defrosts. Figure one day in the fridge for every 4 pounds of turkey. Just place a platter under the turkey to catch any moisture or juices as it thaws.

Save the Stuffing for the Oven

Because of the long dry cooking method associated with cooking the turkey, make the stuffing separately and bake it in the oven. This will also allow for easier service when it comes time for the big meal.

Gas for the Grill

Before starting the big event, be sure that there is enough propane in the tank. A large tank of propane lasts about 18 hours. This means switch out the tank if there is less than a third left to be on the safe side.

Prepping the Turkey for Grilling

Give the thawed turkey a quick rinsing and a pat dry. Be sure to put the legs back to their “tucked” position and to also turn the wings back so that the neck skin is held in place during the grilling process.

Give it the Old Oil Bath

Like any piece of poultry on the grill, the skin and meat needs to be well seasoned both for flavor and to withstand the cooking process. Take a healthy amount of olive oil and brush the entire surface of the bird’s skin. Follow with both salt and pepper both outside and in the cavity of the turkey.

Time to Grill the Turkey

When it comes to physically grilling the turkey, there are a couple of suggestions that will make life a whole lot easier. Place the bird on a wire cooking rack that sits in a heavy foil gauge pan. This way as the turkey’s juices start to fall they are collected in the pan and don’t flare up the fire in the grill.

Pre-heat the grill for a good 20 minutes over medium heat. Also, and this is very important, make sure the heat source is indirect. This means while pre-heating the grill, all of the burners can be on. However, once the turkey is placed inside the grill and the cover is closed, be sure to turn off the burners (or move the charcoal over) that is sitting directly under the bird. This is imperative for even cooking.

Place the turkey into the grill and close the lid. Allow 10 to 12 minutes for each pound of the turkey. Invest in a meat thermometer to make life a lot easier. Then use that thermometer to check the temperature of the bird. The turkey is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees in the thigh and 170 degrees in the breast.

Allow the Turkey to Rest

Like any cooked piece of meat, allowing the turkey to rest for 20 minutes will allow the juices to settle and that last bit of cooking to occur. Then, carve the turkey and serve to the hungry guests.

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