Thanksgiving Turkey

by zydecopaws on November 26, 2009

We spent Thanksgiving at the lake this year, and I was given permission by She Who Must Be Obeyed to barbecue the turkey. I’ve done this in the past and had some of the best turkey that way, but SWMBO loves the smell of the house when I cook it in the oven and hasn’t allowed me to cook any outdoors for awhile.

Naturally, things got challenging right off the bat. The turkey (a 22+ pounder) wouldn’t fit in any of the pans that I could put on the 18″ WSM, and since I had no desire for beer-butt turkey I was forced to use one of my kettles. The Performer has been promoted to lake duty (otherwise known as demoted as the primary cooker at home by Bubba Ho-Keg) and was put into service as cooker of the day.

I decided to cook the turkey with a traditional (at least in my family) bread stuffing. Stuffing consisted of sourdough and french breads, onions, celery, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and a whole lot of other ingredients shown in the picture below.

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The veggies are sauteed briefly in the butter, then left to simmer until softened in the wine and chicken broth. The bread is ripped into small pieces by my little helpers (neither of which are so little anymore), and the whole thing is mixed together well. The turkey cavities are then stuffed, and the remainder goes in a pan that today was baked in the oven due to lack of available space on the grill (and lack of desire to fire up another kettle or the WSM).

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The turkey was then seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary, and ground sage. That beer on the counter doesn’t go in the cook, it is the secret ingredient that I use to baste the turkey with as it is cooking.

So on the grill went the turkey. The Performer was set up for indirect cooking, and I had it loaded up with charcoal so that I would be able to avoid adding more later in the cook. Several sticks of apple went on top for some nice additional smoke flavor.

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Did I mention the issues with the 22+ pound turkey and the WSM. As it turned out, I immediately ran into issues with the Performer as soon as I put the lid on and discovered that it barely closed, and the top of the turkey was touching the underside of the lid. Not to worry, a piece of foil solved this issue. Or so I thought.

About 30 minutes later, I went out to check on the temperatures and see how things were going. Much to my dismay, the heat was too high on the sides and the skin was already starting to brown up on the sides, but not on the top where the foil was. Once again, not to worry, more foil was put into play and a tent was created over the turkey.

Long story short, the skin on the sides of the turkey got a bit more crispy and dark than I care for by the time the turkey was ready to pull off the Performer. Still, other than the wingtips, the rest of the turkey looked pretty good.

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It plated up nicely once it was sliced.

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And was served with all the trimmings.

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No one walked away from the table hungry. In addition to the turkey and stuffing, we had sweet potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, gravy, a selection of pickled goodies, the obligatory green bean casserole, and some of my wife’s famous homemade cranberry sauce.

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For dessert, the wife made a pumpkin pie.

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Now the only thing to do is finish putting away the leftovers and figure out how to turn this into a story that will win me a Char-Broil oil-less turkey fryer from Larry’s contest over at The BBQ Grail. Not my best effort, but at least should be worthy of consideration…

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