Adam Rice

My life and the world around me

Tag: barbecue

Sometimes the new ways are the best

Char Griller brand dual grill

I’ve been barbecuing all my adult life. I don’t claim to be a grillmaster. I haven’t made a study of scientifically optimized barbecuing techniques. But I can usually get pretty good results. I’ve always been a traditionalist about it, only using charcoal, and always owning a primitive grill. I had a L’il Smokey in college. I had a tiny thing that fit in a backpack when I lived in Japan. Since then, I’ve always had one of those converted 55-gallon drums. I always felt that part of the fun of grilling was the unpredictability—that each time I got good results in spite of the lack of control, it was a small triumph over chaos, and my ability to get good results was evidence of some inarticulable talent.

It turns out that this represented one of those unexamined assumptions that turns out to be wrong.

The bottoms on those drum grills eventually rust out completely, so I’d wind up replacing them every few years. After the last one was gone, Gwen decided it was time for something different. She knew that charcoal grilling tastes better, but she also knew that gas grilling was more convenient, and can be a better-tasting option than stovetop cooling. She picked out a two-way grill, with gas in the left barrel and charcoal in the right. It was on sale at the big-box store, and we bought it. This is not something I would have picked out for myself—the charcoal side alone is fancier than any of those drum grills I’ve owned. And I felt a bit odd about allowing a propane grill into the household, even though I can avoid using it if I want.

We took the grill on its maiden voyage yesterday, and it immediately proved itself to be vastly superior to any grill I’ve owned before. To hell with triumph over chaos and inarticulable talent. I’ll stick with convenience, predictability, and control from now on. At least when it comes to grilling.

My mom’s turkey recipe

To set down for time immemorial and Google, I present herewith my mom’s method for making a turkey, with stuffing, with my own minor tweaks. In this recipe, the bird is cooked on a charcoal grill. This has the benefit of freeing up the oven for things like pie, and it tastes great. There’s also the element of risk, since the grill is a less-controlled environment, so you get a little thrill when everything turns out well.

For a 14-lb bird, this recipe will take about four and a half hours, so budget your time accordingly.

Stuffing ingredients:

  • Bread cubes: two bags unseasoned stuffing cubes, or dried cubes from one loaf of bread
  • Onions, three
  • Mushrooms, 1 lb
  • Rice pilaf mix, one box
  • Walnuts or pecans, two handfuls, chopped

All these quantities are negotiable, and you can make any additions you see fit (raisins, rosemary, celery, etc)

Begin by removing the neck and giblets from the turkey and simmer them for at least one hour. Coarsely cube the onions and mushrooms, and lightly sautée them. Start the rice pilaf mix.

Now would probably be a good time to get your charcoal going. Use one of those starter chimneys, not starter fluid. You don’t want your turkey tasting like fuel.

Once the giblets have simmered for one hour, put the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and moisten them slightly with the giblet-water. Add the rest of the stuffing ingredients and mix them together well.

Rinse the turkey in cold water thoroughly and drain off. Thoroughly fill both the body and neck cavities with stuffing. Pin the skin down over the neck opening. There should be enough stuffing left to fill a small casserole dish. Put a light coating of olive oil on the bird.

The charcoal should be ready by now, so prep the grill. I have one of those grills made out of a 55-gallon drum turned on its side, which is ideal for this, as it gives you plenty of room and a side-opening. You are going to be using indirect heat, so you want to place your charcoal in a single heap off to one side, in a location where it will be easy to replenish.

Lay a sheet of tinfoil down on the grill away from the heat source, and place the bird on this. You’ll probably want an assistant for this part.

Allow 15 minutes of cooking time per pound, and allow an extra 15-30 minutes to take into account the added weight of the stuffing.

Every 30 minutes, add another 10 or so briquets—don’t let any more heat escape than necessary. Every hour, rotate the bird 180° to even out the cooking.

You might want to wrap some potatoes or sweet potatoes in tinfoil and throw them on when you’ve got 90 minutes to go.

At 60 minutes to go, and at 30-minute intervals thereafter, check the turkey’s internal temperature: it’s possible that it’s already done. Use a probe-type thermometer. Internal temperature measured from the top should be at least 165°F, juices should be running clear, and the skin should be the color of dark honey. If the turkey is done but you aren’t ready for it, set it as far from the heat as possible, cover it with a sheet of tinfoil, and stop adding charcoal.

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