Grilling: Rotisserie Turkey

Smoked turkeys are so juicy and flavorful, they put oven-roasted birds to shame. Ever since getting a smoker, no turkey has been cooked using any other method in my house. There's one big catch though—the smoke leaves the skin tough and leathery, and although I've known a few people willing to exert the extra effort needed to eat it, for the most part, I consider it inedible.

With the addition of a rotisserie to my arsenal, I could finally fix this conundrum and get an extremely flavorful bird with some self basting rotisserie action, and a delicious skin by avoiding the use of smoke.

After an incredibly successful turkey at last year's Thanksgiving using Alton Brown's recipe (which I know many of you use too) I gave this one the same initial treatment: brined in a mixture of salt, vegetable stock, pepper, allspice, and candied ginger, then stuffed with some aromatics before cooking. It then went onto the spit and slowly turned until the breast meat hit 165°F.

While I was right on with the skin, which turned out undeniably delicious, the meat did not quite live up to my standards set by the smoker. It still beat out the oven-roasted version in terms of juiciness and overall taste, but it lacked that little extra imparted by the smoke which raises a turkey to great new heights, leaving me a new challenge for next year: smoked rotisserie turkey!

Adapted from Alton Brown.

About the author: Joshua Bousel blogs about grilling on his blog, The Meatwave, and appears here on Serious Eats each Friday with a recipe for weekend grilling.

Grilling: Rotisserie Turkey

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About This Recipe

Special equipment:Rotisserie

Ingredients

  • 1 natural turkey about 12 to 14 pounds
  • For the Brine
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon ice cold water
  • For the aromatics
  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Type of fire: three-zone split
  • Grill heat: medium

Procedures

  1. 1

    Bring vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger to a boil in large stockpot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve solids. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate to 40°F.

  2. 2

    In large non-reactive container, combine brine with cold water. Set turkey in brine, breast side down, placinga weight on top to keep turkey submerged if necessary. Place in refrigerator and let brine for 8 to 16 hours.

  3. 3

    Remove turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey on rack over rimmed baking sheet and allow to air-dry overnight in refrigerator. (This step is optional, but will result in a crisper skin.)

  4. 4

    Combine apple, onion, cinnamon, and water in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add to turkey's cavity, along with rosemary and sage. Close turkey cavity by threading wooden skewer through flaps of skin. Fold wings under body and tie legs together. Allow turkey to come to room temperature while you prepare grill.

  5. 5

    Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on either side of charcoal grate. Place foil pan between two piles of coals to capture drippings to serve with turkey or to make gravy. Place turkey on rotisserie and cook over medium heat until instant read thermometer registers 155°F in thickest part of the breast, 2 to 3 hours. Remove turkey from rotisserie and let rest for 20 minutes, carve and serve.

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