Brining: If you plan on brining your bird, do so for 24 hours prior to cooking. Remove from the brine and rinse inside the cavity and out to remove excess salt sitting on the skin. Note: brined turkeys brown faster, so have some foil ready to cover the parts that are browning faster. Also, do not brine a frozen turkey; it must be completely thawed before submerging into the brining solution. Here is the recipe for the turkey brine I used for this turkey:
- One 12 to 15 pound fresh turkey (thawed)
- Ancho Chile and Maple Brine (optional)
- 3 tablespoons Ancho chile powder
- 2 tablespoon ground dried sage
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt per pound, only if turkey is not brined
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 32 ounces chicken stock, for drip pan
- [Skip this step if bird is brined] Remove the giblets and neck from a thawed fresh turkey. Drain any liquid from the cavity and blot, inside and out, with paper towels. Let the turkey sit at room temperature for one hour prior to cooking. DO NOT attempt to thaw it on the counter.
- [For brined turkey] Remove turkey from the brine one hour prior to cooking. Pat dry, inside and out, with paper towels.
- Combine spices and sprinkle 1 tablespoon along the backbone and inside cavity. Sprinkle and pat remaining spice mixture to coat turkey.
- Truss your turkey! No need for complicated French trussing. Just tuck the wings under the bird, use a couple toothpicks or a small skewer to close the skin over the opening to the cavity, and tie the legs together. Trussing keeps the wings and legs close to the body and helps to prevent the meat from drying out and to ensure that your turkey will cook evenly. Plus it makes for a better presentation!
- Grill set up: indirect cooking over medium-low heat (300° to 350°F). Place the pan so it is not directly over any heat. Brush and oil the grates before cooking.
- Pour chicken stock into the drip pan and place the turkey over the drip pan. Close the grill cover and cook until the skin is nicely browned and the juices at the thigh run clear.
- Timing: about 2½ to 3½ hours (12 to 15 minutes per pound).
- NOTE: If you have brined your turkey, keep an eye on the browning once it gets to the color you'd like cover it with foil. You can always remove the foil at the end to brown a little darker, if need be.
- To test for doneness, the temperature of the thigh, away from the bone, should be 170°F and the breast should be between 155° to 160°F. Remember – carryover cooking will continue to raise the temperature of the turkey another 5° to 10° after it comes off the grill.
- Transfer turkey to carving board and tent with foil for 20-30 minutes before carving.
Timing: about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours (12 to 15 minutes per pound).
Cheers and Happy Grilling!