Grilling a Holiday Turkey
Some parts of Canada are already used to seeing the white stuff flying around outside their frosty windows, while others are enjoying gloriously mild temperatures. If you can count yourself amongst those lucky few there has never been a better time to grill your holiday turkey.
Many grillers have prepared a whole rotisserie chicken on their BBQ, and grilling a turkey isn’t much different. So keep your oven free for your sides and desserts (or leave it off entirely!) and try something new with your bird this year!
How To Grill a Rotisserie Turkey
The biggest difference between grilling a rotisserie chicken and a turkey is the size and leanness of the bird; aside from that, the process is quite similar. Follow these steps and get ready to impress your loved ones with your grill skills this holiday season:
- Season your turkey. You can use the same seasonings on your grill as you would in your oven. Alternately, a simple brine or blend of basic seasonings will keep your turkey moist and let the unique flavour of your BBQ shine.
Try sprinkling the inside and outside of your turkey generously with salt and rubbing the skin with olive oil, then truss your turkey to keep everything tight while it spins.
- Remove the wing tips. Wing tips are more likely to burn, and they don’t have much meat anyway.
- Remove the cooking grates and warming rack. You will need extra room for the turkey, and your drip pan can sit right on the heat plates.
- Assemble rotisserie brackets. Make sure to assemble the brackets before you turn on the barbecue.
- Fill your drip pan with about an inch of liquid. Water works, or for added flavour, try using beer, wine, consommé, or other seasonings. The liquid will create steam and act as a basting liquid for your turkey, which will keep it moist as it cooks to perfection.
- Spear your turkey with your spit, and hold it in place with prongs. Tighten the prongs’ wing nuts to ensure your turkey rotates evenly.
- Attach the spit to your grill. Make sure your turkey is properly balanced using the counterweight that comes with your kit, or else your bird will cook unevenly. Start your rotisserie’s motor and watch to see if your bird is cooking evenly. If not, adjust your bird and the counterweight. If you can’t get it to balance, consider grilling your turkey over indirect heat instead.
- Turn on your grill. If you have an infrared rotisserie burner turn it on and do not use the main burners. If you have a stainless steel rotisserie burner us it along with the far left and far right burner on to low. If you do not have a rotisserie burner, use all main burners at medium-low.
- Close your grill lid and keep it closed as much as possible so your turkey cooks evenly. Monitor the temperature gauge and adjust control knob settings so that the turkey is cooking in 325°-350°F heat.
- Check for doneness using a meat thermometer. To do so, push your thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast, away from bone. Bones conduct heat and will give you an inaccurate temperature reading.
Your turkey is done when the breasts reach a minimum temperature of 170°F and the thighs reach a minimum temperature of 180°F. For a 14 pound turkey, this may take around 2-2 ¼ hours.
Why Grill a Rotisserie Turkey?
The rear rotisserie burner on your grill seals in flavours and juices and allows unwanted fat to drip away, while the liquid in the drip pan and the heat from the rear burner self-bastes your turkey and ensures even cooking. No more dry turkeys or roasts!
Infrared rotisserie burners like the one on our Ceramic 900 BBQ don’t lose heat to the surrounding air. This means that your meal will cook faster, and instead of constantly basting your turkey, you can kick back and relax with your loved ones this holiday season.
Tips for Grilling a Rotisserie Turkey
Breaking from tradition and grilling your turkey may seem like a daunting endeavour, but it’s very simple and may actually involve less work than oven roasting. Here are a few tips for grilling your turkey:
- Tie your turkey with string to keep everything tight and contained and the shape uniform. This will ensure even cooking and prevent parts of your turkey, such as the wings, from burning.
- If your turkey is too heavy or won’t evenly balance, cook it over indirect heat without using a spit.
- Remove your warming rack first so your turkey has enough room to rotate.
- Never let your basting liquid evaporate. Beer, wine, or consommé will add extra flavour to your bird, and be sure to use the drippings for gravy!
- Keep your grill lid closed! This will keep the heat in and also seal in the juices for a moist turkey.
- Start by searing your turkey on high, then reduce the heat to medium or low for the rest of your cooking cycle. Generally, low and slow is the way to go.
Try something a little less conventional than your standard oven-roasted turkey this year. Your family and friends might seem a bit skeptical, but once you’ve tried a grilled rotisserie turkey, there’s no going back.