Applewood Smoked and Maple-Cider Glazed Thanksgiving Turkey
Slowly smoked whole turkey prepared over a gently smoldering inferno of charcoal and fruitwoods. The crisped skin is caramelized in a gorgeous maple-bourbon and cider glaze, while the tender underlying meat is barbecued to sweet, succulent perfection. The bird is removed from the grill, rested, then filled for presentation with a homemade stuffing of toasted artisan sourdough croutons, roasted shallots and garlic, a garden of seasonal fruits and fresh aromatic herbs. Served best alongside family, friends and a strong pour of chilled Cabernet Sauvignon. -Happy Thanksgiving, David
- 1 15-20 pound fresh turkey trimmed, entirely thawed and giblets removed
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground peppercorn to taste
- Applewood chunks
- Homemade or store-bought stuffing prepared outside of the turkey
- Fresh herbs for presentation garnish
- Seasonal Brine:
- 2 gallons water
- 1 gallon chicken stock
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 handful of rosemary sage and thyme sprigs
- 1 handful peppercorns
- 1 head of garlic smashed
- Savory Turkey Injection:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
- Spiced-Maple Apple Cider Glaze:
- 3 cups apple cider
- 1/2 cup apply jelly
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 pinches garlic powder
In a large stock pot, bring all Seasonal Turkey Brine ingredients to a rolling boil. Stir intermittently until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely, until brine is at room temperature. Submerge whole, entirely-thawed raw turkey into the brine. Cover pot with a lid and place in refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
Remove the bird from it’s brine 4-6 hours prior to cooking. Discard brine. Thoroughly rinse the turkey inside and out then pat dry with paper towel. Liberally season every portion of the winged beast with olive oil, salt and pepper. Fill the meat injection syringe with the Savory Turkey Injection and insert into several points of the breast, thigh and leg meat. Tightly wrap the bird with plastic and rest at room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare the Spiced Maple-Apple Cider Glaze by combining all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stirring intermittently, reduce concoction by 1/3. Set aside to cool. Pour reduced liquid into a spray bottle.
Preheat grill to 225-250°F using the 2-zone cooking method (see notes below) and toss a few chunks of applewood directly upon the smoldering coals (or, if using gas, place wood chunks in a perforated tin foil packet placed in back corner of the direct heat grill grates). When billowing smoke thins and turns blueish in hue, the grill is ready.
Rest turkey over the cooler indirect heat grill grates, positioned upon it's back with head of the bird facing away from the hottest direct heat grill grates. Cook the bird for approximately 3 hours (or 9-10 minutes per pound) with the grill lid closed, spraying intermittently with the Spiced Maple-Apple Cider Glaze, until internal temperature in the thickest, inner most portion of the thigh reads 160F. Remove bird from the grill and loosely tent with tin foil. Rest the bird for 20-30 minutes before carving, allowing the bird’s denatured proteins to relax and reabsorb their juices, while carry-over cooking elevates the bird to it's proper serving temperature of 165F. Present the bird with a stuffing that was prepared outside of the bird’s cavity and fresh herbs. Carve the turkey tableside and serve.
Two-Zone Cooking Method: Elementary technique to create one hot searing zone (direct heat) and one cooler smoking zone (indirect heat). This grill arrangement is imperative to cultivating perfectly prepared beef short ribs.
Gas: Turn the right side of the grill to high & leave the left side off. If using a with an odd number of burners, turn the far right side of the grill to high, the middle to medium-low and leave the left side off.
Charcoal: Ignite the charcoal in a chimney starter. When coals are glowing red, dump coals into a pile on one side of the grill floor. Rake a few coals the opposite side of the grill floor, creating one high-stacked hot zone and one cooler zone. For every hour of cooking, add a half-chimney of coals to the grill floor.