Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are celebrating with family and they have procured a 28 lb bird that is home raised. We're not sure about the breed but the shape looks a little different from the run of the mill store bought birds so it might be a heritage breed.

Weather is calm at 25°F with a light cloud cover. Wind is reported at about 12 mph but we're surrounded by trees and things at ground level are calm. Perfect weather for a cook!

This bird was not injected so we brined it for about 20 hours using:

  • 2 C pickling salt
  • 1 C sugar
  • 6 C apple juice
  • 2 C orange juice
  • 1 C lemon juice
  • 1 C lime juice
  • Sufficient water to bring volume up to 2 gallons.

After brining, the bird was rinsed about 15 minutes and spitted. With the spit in place I stuffed the cavities with:
  • 2 limes
  • one orange
  • 2 onions 
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • sprigs of thyme, sage and rosemary (all fresh from the garden.)
This time I took some little metal skewers and trussed up the openings so the fruit doesn't fall out as the bird rotates. I was also able to achieve fairly good balance so if the bird doesn't shift on the spit, we should get good rotation. Before putting the bird on, I spread the outside with oil. (Ordinary cooking oil - canola.)

Spitted and trussed and ready to spin!
I brought along my older Platinum (22.5 Weber kettle) on which to cook. This is fitted with my home made rotisserie ring. We're firing with Cowboy Lump and using chunks of cherry and apple for some smoke flavor. I'll be aiming for a little less than 300°F lid thermometer temperature as the last bird finished pretty fast.

Turkey on and cooker closed up.
I need to do a better job trussing these birds up. By an hour in, the leg end was loose and rolling on the spit and the stuff from the cavity was mostly in the drip pan.

About an hour into the cook.
timetemp comment
Lit lump dumped in the bowl on either side of a double drip pan and cooker closed up.
11:45350°Bird on! 
11:55300°Closed bottom just a bit more. No desire to rush this one. (Started cook with bottom vent about half open.)
12:38220°/282° (lid/spit)Added ET-732 probe to spit rod opening for second opinion temperature measurement. The lid therm is reading low!
2:50220°/282°While out running, temperature started dropping so son put more charcoal in and cleared the vents of ash. Temp seems back up. Probed meat and got about 155°, breast and thigh. Skin on back and legs is splitting so I brushed the bird with more canola oil.
4:40???/300°180° breast and a little less thigh so it's off and resting.
(lid/spit) => Weber lid thermometer and Maverick ET-732 probe stuck in by the spit rod opening.

Turkey was tasty but dry. The information I saw that suggested I take it to 185° was bogus. Also this bird had no fat. None evident in the usual places and none in the drip pan.

What to do differently next time: Don't go to 180°! If I have one that's devoid of fat, I need to baste more and/or put some butter under the skin. An injection of butter might be good too.

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