How to Grill Thanksgiving Dinner

All of it. Bird included.

By The Editors

Don’t Put That Grill Away Just Yet
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19 November 2015

We love our families.

But when forced to spend consecutive days with them under one roof — looking at you, holidays — things can get a little testy. Which is why it pays to have a friend you can sneak away to for a couple hours. Who listens. And smells good. And holds you in a warm, smoky, charcoal-based embrace.

We’re talking about your grill. Which come November 26th, means knowing how to actually prepare Thanksgiving dinner on a grill.

So gather your tools and tie your apron. We’re taking this outside.

What you need:

A grill with sufficient space
A smoker or smoker pipe
Lightly flavored smoking wood (apple and cherry are solid)
Grill gear

The Bird (may we suggest a heritage turkey?):

1. Thaw that gobbler out. Allot about one day of refrigerator time for every four pounds of turkey.

2. Prepare your grill for indirect cooking and place a drip pan with water above the unlit burners but below the cooking grate, leaving a space between the cooking grates where you can fit a baster. If you can’t access the drip tray with your baster, try making a basting liquid with melted butter and white wine.

3. Fill a smoker tube with wood chips and place on one of the lit burners. The natural smoky flavor is something you simply can’t replicate in an oven.

4. Heat the BBQ up — aim for a steady temperature of 350°F — and get your bird ready.

5. Stuff it with your preferred mixture, season the skin by rubbing the outside of the turkey with butter, and then liberally seasoning it with coarse salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh thyme, sage and rosemary.

6. Truss the legs and, when the grill reaches the desired temperature, place it in the center.

7. Check your bird and baste every hour. Cook until it reaches the desired internal temperature — 165°F, or about 20 minutes of cooking time per pound.

8. Enjoy your company. Perhaps with a drink.

Things to consider:

1. Smoking turkey means sacrificing supple outer skin for wildly flavorful meat. A fair trade in our opinion. Though, watch carefully in the final hours. Leathery is ok, but don’t scorch your feast.

2. Rotation will be necessary. Flipping the bird so to speak. The formula: the weight of your turkey times 12 minutes per lb. divided by three equals minutes per rotation (12lb. x 12 minutes = 144 minutes/3 = 48 minutes).

3. Many people do not take kindly to the smoky flavor of the stuffing. Go ahead and prepare a second dish in the oven.

What About Side Dishes?

The Potatoes: Save the stress on your stove top. Wrap chopped potatoes in tinfoil with a liberal amount of butter or olive oil, fresh chopped chives and a minced clove or two of garlic. Place the foil packet on the top shelf and leave it for about an hour, maybe flipping it once. Once they are ready, you are free to serve as is or to mash them up with butter, cream cheese and milk.

The Veggies: Brush with olive oil, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and place harvest veggies directly over low to medium heat. Don’t forget to throw on some corn in the husk.

The Gravy: Turkey drippings and the same white wine-and-butter mixture you used to baste the turkey are an excellent base for a damn good turkey gravy. Once the turkey is removed from the grill and resting, turn on all the burners and place the drip tray on top. As it comes to a gentle boil, whisk together some flour and chicken stock until all the lumps are gone, then whisk that into the drippings. Keep stirring until smooth, skim off the fat and pour into your gravy boat.

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