With the temperatures in the Valley of the Sun finally down to a comfortable range, and even a bit cool on some evenings, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to think about moving the traditional family meal outdoors. A late afternoon feast will be perfect before the sun sets and the temperature drops to jacket weather. But don’t forget about your UNIQUE grill when it comes time to prepare this year’s turkey. Moving the bird outdoors will allow you to have more time and space to create all of your family’s favorite side dishes while still providing a succulent turkey that will be everyone’s favorite part of the meal.
Most turkey recipes all have very similar prep steps. A 12-16 pound turkey is the perfect size for a standard grill, and you will want to move the bird to the refrigerator about four days before you plan to cook it. So for Thanksgiving, get your turkey in the fridge on Sunday night and you should be just fine. On the big day, pull the thawed turkey out of the fridge and remove the bag of giblets and neck as you always do. Also rinse the turkey inside and out and then drain the cavity. If you like crisp meat from the cavity area then pat it dry inside. Be sure to remove any ties on the legs as you want the heat to circulate inside the bird for the best results.
Herb Mustard Butter
To add to the flavor of your holiday turkey, a nice butter rub is the secret ingredient. You will need:
- 1 1/2 sticks softened unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. finely chopped rosemary
- 2 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 2 tsp. finely chopped sage
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
Fold all of the ingredients into the softened butter and then apply about two tablespoons to the inside of the cavity. Next, apply the rest of the butter mixture under the skin of the bird. If the butter clumps, pat out the clumps of butter to even the application.
The turkey will sit directly on the grill grate so be sure to place a drip pan under that area to avoid a grease fire. Turn all the burners to high and close the lid to reach a heat of 325 to 350 degrees. Once the cooking heat is reached, turn off the burner under the drip pan and maintain the heat using the remaining burners.
Place the turkey breast side up on the grill. There are several companies that offer a turkey rack which makes it easier to move the bird during cooking and to remove it when cooking is complete. If you are laying the turkey directly on your grill grate be sure to oil the rack to void sticking. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any additional rack that you might use. With the turkey in place close the lid. At the 90 minute point, check the turkey with a thermometer. You are looking for a temp of 165 degrees. If the turkey is browning quickly but is still not at 165 degrees, place a foil tent over the bird to keep it from burning. When you reach 165 degrees, place the turkey on a platter and allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Then it is time to enjoy your first grilled Thanksgiving turkey