Thanks to my Dad, I grew up on grilled turkey from the old-school charcoal barbecue. When it came time to make it on my own, Dad taught me to do it his way and I never looked back (especially once I realized the beauty of having the oven free for everything else).
Before the turkey even hits the grill, it gets brined overnight. Brining a turkey leaves it plump, seasoned, and ready for hours of cooking without fear of drying out. There are a million recipes out there for brining. Pick one you like and go with it. Once my bird is brined, patted dry, and prepared – I head to the grill.
I use a large chimney to light the coals. Once lit, I divide the coals in half and push them to opposite sides of the grill basin. I pour a can of beer into a disposable 9×5-inch aluminum bread pan and place it in the center of the grill basin, between the coals. Next, while standing away from the coals, I spray the grill with non-stick cooking spray. Then, I lower the grill in place, with the handles positioned over the coals. I place the turkey on the grill, breast side down, and put the lid on it (with all vents open).
As heat builds inside the grill, the beer in the pan begins to evaporate, basting and tenderizing the bird. Every hour, I add 6-9 fresh briquettes on each side of the grill. After the first hour of cooking, I turn the turkey over and finish cooking it breast side up. If any part of the turkey turns dark, I cover it with foil. Once the internal temperature, measured in the thickest part of the thigh, has reached 165 degrees, it’s time to take the turkey off the grill. I usually estimate 11-13 minutes grilling time per pound. Allow the turkey to rest for a good 20-30 minutes before carving.
Every time I taste our turkey, I delight in its grilled goodness, give thanks for the nourishment, and call Dad to tell him how thankful I am for all the things he’s taught me. Happy Thanksgiving!