BBQ Brian’s Whole-Smoked Turkey Recipe
In time for the holiday season, BBQ Brian Misko provides the answers to making the perfect turkey. His cookbook, Grilling with House of Q is in stores now: the perfect gift for anyone who loves to BBQ (or who claims the grill as their domain!)
Turkey always warrants a crowd; after all, have you ever heard of a single person cooking a whole turkey to eat alone? Instead of taking over the whole oven just for the bird, use your grill to smoke it. Preparing it this way adds character to your feast. Brining your turkey first will add moisture and season the meat deep inside for added flavour.
A couple more turkey tips. I don’t recommend stuffing this bird; it just adds cooking time and makes it more challenging to cook properly. Also, it may be tempting to use the drippings from the turkey as it cooks to make gravy; however, these juices will be salty from the brine and smoky from the cooking process and may change the flavour of your perfect turkey gravy. Of course, it could be better than you expect . . .
Serves 10 to 12
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 16 cups water (1 gallon)
- 6 to 8 cups ice (or more)
- 1 whole turkey, 12 to 14 lbs, rinsed
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup butter, melted
Before you start, make sure your turkey fits on one side of your grill with the lid closed. Some grills may not have the inside height or width to cook the bird indirectly, and your turkey will not smoke properly if this is the case.
In a large, deep canning pot, stir together the salt, sugar and water until the crystals are completely dissolved. Add the ice.
Place the turkey, breast side down, into the pot or transfer everything to a brining bag. Refrigerate the turkey for at least 1 hour per pound of meat, or a minimum of 12 to 14 hours. Be sure you keep the meat cold, which helps with the brining process and keeps your poultry safe from bacterial growth.
Remove your turkey from the brine, rinse it under cold running water and pat it dry with paper towels.
Fill a foil packet with alder, maple or cherry wood chips. Prepare your grill for indirect cooking on medium heat. Place the foil packet on the heat under the grill grate, and place a drip pan under the grate on the cool side. Set the turkey on a large baking sheet.
Using a silicone brush, coat the outside of the bird with the melted butter. Even if the butter is warm, the bird is cold from the brine and the butter may harden on the bird—that’s perfect! Transfer the turkey to the cool side of the grill, close the lid and allow the smoke to fill up the cooking chamber. Cook the turkey for 30 to 45 minutes, and then rotate the bird and check to see if you need to replace the wood chips. Repeat this process for 2 to 3 hours total or until the internal temperature of the white meat is 165°F and the leg meat is 170°F. The turkey should be a nice golden brown from the melted butter and the smoking process. Remove the bird from the grill and allow it to rest, loosely covered with aluminum foil, for 30 to 45 minutes.
To carve up a whole bird, start by removing the legs. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin between the breast and leg, and then cut through the joint separating the thigh from the spine. Arrange the legs on a serving platter. Remove the wings by cutting them from the breast meat and add them to the platter. Lastly, remove the entire breast by sliding your knife along the ribcage. Once removed, cut the breast into slices and arrange them on the platter. Serve family-style.