The grill is well-suited to roasted turkey perfection. Situating the darker meat closer to a two-zone indirect fire lets the legs and thighs cook faster than the more delicate breast meat, leaving both sections of the bird to reach their respective ideal temperatures at the same time. Plus there's the bonus of adding wood chunks for lightly smoky, more flavorful meat.
Why this recipe works:
- Salting and resting the turkey in the fridge overnight provides extra insurance on moisture retention and flavor
- Butterflying the turkey creates a flatter surface that makes for quicker and more even cooking
- Placing the legs and thighs closer to the hot coals allow them to cook faster than breast meat
- Apple or cherry wood added to the fire gives the meat a delicate smokiness that enhances the flavor of the meat, without overpowering it
- 1 whole natural turkey (12 to 14 pounds total), butterflied according to these instructions, backbone, neck, and giblets reserved for making gravy
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 to 2 small chunks of light smoking wood, such as cherry or apple
- 1 recipe gravy, for serving
- Type of fire: two-zone indirect
- Grill heat: medium-high
Pat turkey dry with paper towels and season liberally all over with salt and black pepper. Tuck wing tips behind back. Place turkey on wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals in a crescent moon shape on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place wood chunk(s) directly on top of hot coals. Remove rack with turkey from sheet pan and place on grill, with turkey legs and thighs placed closer to the coals. Cover, situating top vent over cool side of grill, and cook until an instant read thermometer registers between 165-170°F in thickest part of the thigh and between 145-150°F in thickest part of the breast, about 90 minutes, replenishing coals after an hour if needed.
Remove rack with turkey from grill and place over a cutting board. Let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes, then remove wire rack and carve turkey. Serve immediately with gravy.
Wire rack, Grill