ME VS. TURKEY
For all of those women out there too scared or disgusted by taking on the turkey, I will share my first adventure with turkey cooking!
This Thanksgiving my dad was not in good health, which put a lot more on my mom's plate than cooking our entire Thanksgiving dinner, so my sister and I decided that we could handle it-the question was: what are we going to do about the turkey?? My sister and I have always been grossed out by the turkey preparations, I mean grabbing a neck out of the turkey?! NASTY! So we had thought about doing the whole-buy an already cooked turkey thing from a restaurant or caterer, but I decided that just wasn't going to fly--we do not do buy store-made food at our Thanksgiving! If you know my mother, you'd understand! :) So I took on the turkey!!
I had decided I didn't want to cook it in the oven because I was already going to have a few other things in the oven already and I'm never good at multitasking foods in the oven, I can't ever figure out how to adjust the temperature for more food! So I said forget it and I decided that I would tackle cooking the turkey on our Big Green Egg smoker/grill. We received the Big Green Egg as a wedding gift a couple of years ago and we've done burgers, hot dogs, and tenderloins on it, but that was about the extent of its use so far! I started Googling and searching on Youtube.com for tips and videos of how to even go about using the egg for the turkey, and as any internet research goes, everyone had a different way of going about the smoking of the turkey; different temps, different lengths of time, using different poultry rubs, using different wood chips, using different liquids for basting, and I thought to myself OMG too many decisions I have no idea what I'm doing! I decided to just take all of the videos into consideration and take tips from all of them! In the end here is how it went:
- 14lb. Whole frozen turkey-thawed completely
- 1/2 stick of melted butter
- 1 can chicken broth
- extra virgin olive oil
- a couple of tablespoons of poultry rub (I used Chef Paul Prudhomme's Magid Seasoning Blends Poultry Magic from Kroger)
- a few hand fulls of water soaked wood chips, I used applewood but Mesquite, cherry..they'd work too.
- For garnishment-place stuffing/dressing around the turkey and a little bit inside, then place parsley or any other nice greenery or herbs to dress it up'
We ate our dinner on Wednesday so I let my frozen turkey thaw from Saturday-Tuesday night in the refrigerator and it was still a block of ice.... So I followed the instructions and put the turkey, still in its packaging, into the sink with luke warm/tepid water only for about 30 minutes, putting it in HOT water for too long will cause the turkey to reach a temperature that can cause bacteria to start growing, its around 45degrees or something?!!..anyway..So I let that sit for about an hour to take some of the freeze off!! and stuck it back in the fridge until the next day around 12 noon (on Wednesday). Tuesday night I also put my few hand fulls of wood chips in a bowl of water to soak overnight.
By noon on Wednesday I thought I was ready to roll! I open the turkey package, spread its legs and I thought I would see the neck-ew! and bag of giblets-ew! first thing, but they were hiding from me..PLUS the inside cavity of the turkey was still a block of ice. Of course now I had to call my mom, who advised me to run some hot water into the inside of the turkey and that the hot water would be okay for a couple of minutes. So I'm over here with my turkey butt-up in the sink with hot water shooting into it like a bidet! It finally thawed enough for me to see the neck! So I was able to get the neck out without vomitting! But I could NOT find this wretched bag of giblets anywhere! I almost gave up and assumed that they forgot to put giblets in my turkey! But I could imagine my mom carving the turkey for us and finding a smoked bag of giblets still inside the turkey!!! I looked for so long that I had to call in reinforcement-MOM. She came turned the turkey over and pulled it right out of course...I WAS IN THE WRONG HOLE! How embarrassing...apparently there's still a neck whole and that is where the bag of giblets were..I was only checking from the other end! But now I really was ready to go!
- I put a few more charcoals into the Big Green Egg and put the electric starter in there to get it going, leaving the top open.
- I let the grill get some flames going and then took off the starter and closed the lid.
- I then let the temp get up to about 325-350degrees Fahrenheit.
- Then I sprinkled on my water soaked wood chips so that they were evenly spread over the charcoals.
- I closed the lid and let the temp get back up to 325-350 because the wood chips bring the temp down because they're wet.
- I put olive oil in my hands along with some sprinkles of the poultry rub and rubbed the turkey with it allover UNDERNEATH the skin..Putting it all on the outside of the skin won't really affect the flavor as much as underneath the skin.
- Next, I set my turkey into an aluminum roasting pan and poured a can, or however much would fit, of chicken broth into the pan with the turkey.
- Then I set the turkey and pan inside of the Big Green Egg and once the temp got back up to 325-350 I started timing my two and a half hour cooking time. Try to not check it often, raising the lid lets out a lot of heat and will prolong your cooking time. I only checked on mine once and that was around and hour and forty-five minutes into the cook and I brushed the turkey with melted butter so that it would be a nice golden brown color on the outside and I also basted it a little bit with the broth from the pan.
- After two and a half hours later, I came back outside to check the turkey and make sure that the temperature of the actual turkey was around 170. When you take the temperature make sure to stick the thermometer in the muscle of the leg, kind of like its groin area?..lol...Sticking the breast will cause it to dry out more and plus the breast doesn't have to get as hot as the inner leg area.
- I then took the turkey off of the grill and wrapped it as good as I could in aluminum foil and set it in another aluminum roasting pan so that I could transport it to my sister's house where my mom could 'decorate it' or garnish it. Here's the end result!