There’s no need to spend hours in the kitchen roasting a Christmas turkey when you can smoke one outdoors on the grill.
Not only will your turkey taste incredibly delicious, once you put the bird on, you can walk away and forget it until it’s done. Here’s a tried and true way to smoke a Christmas turkey with a charcoal grill that has a lid.
Here at the shack-ri-la, we’ve smoked many a holiday turkey on a Weber kettle grill. It’s big enough to smoke a good-sized bird. A smaller grill may work. Just be sure the lid shuts tight with the turkey inside.
Let’s get started. Light a stack of charcoal briquettes that’s about the size of a bowling ball, or get it going in a charcoal chimney. Pile the white-hot charcoal over to the side of the grill.
Next, pour a good amount of cold briquettes into the grill away from the fire, about twice the amount used to make the pile of hot charcoal. Arrange the cold briquettes around the perimeter of the grill, starting where the hot coals are, so the whole thing looks like a crescent moon shape.
With tongs, place several cold briquettes on top of the hot ones. You want the hot charcoal to ignite the cold briquettes, then burn slowly around the perimeter of the grill like a very slow fuse. New briquettes are started as the fire creeps along.
Place three or four hickory or mesquite chunks here and there on top of the charcoal. I like to set a pan of water about an inch deep beside the charcoal to keep the turkey moist. Set the cooking grate in place and you’re ready to go.
Bring out the royal bird and place it on the grill away from the charcoal so it cooks with indirect heat. Place the lid on tight and open the vents half way. Orient the vents so they’re opposite the charcoal. That draws smoke over the turkey.
Now, go wrap presents, put up the tree, play some touch football or watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.” All the while your turkey will be cooking and smoking.
The charcoal will burn for eight or nine hours this way. You shouldn’t have to open the lid, except to check your turkey once or twice. The more you open the lid, the longer the cooking time. And the colder the day, the longer it takes.
Most turkeys have one of those pop-up things that tell you when the turkey is done. Smoke the bird until the thing pops up, or the temperature reaches 165 degrees deep inside the breast, measured with your trusty meat thermometer.
And if your favorite outdoor chef doesn’t own a digital meat thermometer, it makes a fine gift.
On Thanksgiving, we smoked a small 10-12 pound turkey and figured it would take six or seven hours. When we checked the bird after four hours it was already done. That’s faster than we’d planned, but the turkey was still delicious.
We’ve also smoked whole chickens, racks of ribs and pork roasts this way and have never been disappointed. It works for any big cut of meat.
There’s no basting or messy roasting pan to clean up. Just a great-tasting smoked turkey for your family on Christmas.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NWAFlip
Sports on 12/12/2017