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Turkey: Grilling

Step by Step Turkey Grilling Instructions


Step one: Prepare the turkey. This means removing everything from the body cavity, taking out any pop-up plastic timer devices and giving it a good wash in cold water. Pat dry and don't bother with tying up the bird. Trussing will only slow down the cooking of the thighs which you want to actually cook more than the rest of the bird anyway.

Step two: Season or brine the turkey as desired. Remember if you do use a brine to rinse off any salt from the bird before you grill it. When the time comes prepared the grill. Remember that you will be grilling a large bird indirectly. It might be a good idea to take the turkey out to the grill before you light it to see about spacing and heating. This is especially important if you are using charcoal. With charcoal you will want to make sure that you build the fire up in the right place. If the bird is too close then one side could cook too fast. You will want a drip pan under the turkey to prevent flare-ups and to catch the drippings. Add water to this pan periodically to maintain a moist environment in the grill and to keep the drippings from burning away. You can make great gravy from the drippings.

Step three: As long as you are rigged for indirect grilling your rotisserie grilling will be pretty easy. You just need to keep a close eye on the bird to make sure that the skin isn’t burning and that heat is getting into the bird. If you are not using a rotisserie and you are on a gas grill set the turkey, breast side down on a well oiled grate or roasting rack. If your grill allows you to have heat on either side of the turkey then you will have an even heating area and you will only need to worry about turning the turkey in about an hour.

If you are using a charcoal grill you want the coals in either a ring around the turkey or banked on either side of it. You want even heating so one side doesn’t cook faster than the other. Regardless of the grill try to keep the turkey away from the very edges of the cooking surface so that heat can flow around it.

Step four: Your target cooking temperature is around 325 degrees F. If you have an oven thermometer in the grill, set it close to the bird because this is the area you are most concerned with. If you are using a gas grill make the necessary adjustments to the control valves to hit your target temperature. If you are using charcoal you will want to keep a close eye on the temperature to keep it in the right range. Add additional burning coals as necessary.

Step five: Turn the bird as needed. Depending on the arrangement of your grill you will need to turn or flip the bird during the cooking time. If you have a dual burner gas grill you will need to rotate the bird after about 30 minutes, flip and rotate 30 minutes after that and rotate after another 30 minutes. This keeps the hottest part of the grill from burning one part of the bird. You will need to continue this dance until the turkey is done. If you are set up to have heat all around the turkey or on two sides of it then you will need to flip the turkey after about an hour. Of course this really depends on how fast the turkey’s skin is cooking. You don’t want the outside to cook too much faster than the inside. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. If the skin is getting too browned before the inside starts warming up, your cooking temperature is too high.

Step six: After a about 2 hours you really want to start testing the temperature. Your target temperature is 165 degrees F. This needs to be the coldest part of the turkey since you need every little morsel at or above this temperature. Test in several places, but be patient. The internal temperature should only rise about 10 degrees every 15 to 20 minutes so don’t start poking your bird full of holes.

Last step: Remove the turkey from the grill and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. The resting period allows the juices to flow back into the meat.

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