Friday, December 7, 2012

First Friday Turkey

This is another turkey - I'm grilling it (with some smoke) for First Friday. I started with an injected Butterball(tm) turkey so I don't need to brine it. I plan to roast using Alton Brown's suggestion to roast at 500° F for half an hour, tent the breast with foil and lower temp to 350° and continue until the breast reads 161° F. In the past I've smoked these but the skin comes out rubbery and I don;t think the bird really benefits. I suppose I should give smoking another shot after grilling/roasting a couple.

We're at 41° F under cloudy skies and with light (10 mph) winds. Rain could start before the cook is done.

As noted this bird comes pre-brined. I simply thawed it and stuffed some sliced apples, onions and celery in the cavity. I added some fresh sage and rosemary form the garden to that. Inside I have the neck and giblets in hot water to make some gravy.

This cook is (again) being done with the 26" kettle. I have a drip pan under the bird that is surrounded with two chimneys of lit lump. I tucked in a couple pieces of apple and cherry in between the drip pan and coals. After a few minutes I recalled that I wanted to use some mesquite also and dropped them in top of the lit coals along the edge (by the grate handles.) I'm measuring cooker and breast temperature using a remote reading Maverick ET-73. The ET-73 cooker temperature only reads up to 410° F so I have to guess if I'm hitting my desired 500° F for the first half hour.

timetemp comment
Turkey on the grill
3:25 HHHWithin a few minutes the cooker temp on the ET-73 is over scale so I removed it. I need a higher reading thermometer for high heat cooks! And this is with the lid on and both vents wide open.
Opened the lid to add mesquite chunks and put the cooker probe back in. Quickly reads HHH again so I pulled it again. I measure surface temps up to 425° using an IR thermometer.
Time to bring down cooker temperature. Tented the turkey breast, closed bottom vent to about 1/2 and closed the top vent a little. I also threw in a couple more pieces of apple and cherry. Temp is dropping slowly so I closed the bottom a bit more. It's hard to tell since the closure for the bottom vents does not seem to fit very well. I closed the top vent to about 1/2 as well. Lid temp was over 340° so I don't think that the cooker temperature is down to 350°.
Closed the bottom vent to a sliver and the top a little more as well. Need to watch to avoid overshooting and losing too much fire. 
4:1295°/348°Opened the top vent fully and the bottom about half. Temp started climbing again so I closed things down a bit more.
4:33117°/387°Closed the bottom vent a wee bit more. Need to watch for falling temps which means it is time to light more charcoal.
5:30156°/345°Added another chimney of charcoal. Probably not needed but once lit it must be used. Closed the bottom vent a bit to compensate for the extra heat.
5:38161°/359°Turkey off!

Here is the bird after a half hour prior to tenting and cutting the temperature.

And after resting a bit after it came off the grill.

The bird was very good. It got compliments all around and one of the party goers claimed repeatedly that it was the best turkey she ever had. One of the things I did was an extended rest since I needed to transport. To maintain maximum heat, I

  • preheated the roasting pan.
  • held in a warm oven until ready to leave (about 1/2 hour) 
  • prewarmed the cooler using hot water.
The result is that the breast temperature after holding for 1/2 hour in a warm oven followed by an hour in a picnic cooler was 170°. That's almost too much. 

One thing I need to watch is the ET-73 temperature probe during the hottest part of the cook. The heat is high enough to damage it. As far as the bird goes, I have no regrets.

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