STATEPOINT — Thanksgiving can mean too many cooks in the kitchen, so consider taking some prep outside. While grilling is usually associated with summer, more Americans are recognizing its year-round potential.
In fact, 80 percent of North American households own a grill or smoker and 60 percent use it year-round, according to recent statistics from the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. It’s no surprise that many Thanksgiving recipes can be reinvented outdoors.
“Grilling your bird over lump charcoal creates a succulent, flavorful entrée,” says Don Crace, President of Cowboy Charcoal, a brand that caters to grilling purists of the charcoal variety.
For a uniquely smoky flavor sure to impress the crowd, try this recipe for Cowboy’s Perfect Bourbon-Maple Smoked Turkey:
• 1 thawed or fresh turkey
• 1 onion
• 2-3 garlic cloves
• 3 sprigs rosemary
• 3 sprigs thyme
• 1 bay leaf
• Olive oil
• Salt (at least 2 cups)
• Cowboy All Natural Lump Charcoal
• Hickory wood chips
• 1 cup bourbon
• 1/2 cup real maple syrup
• Remove neck, giblets and excess fat from turkey. Make gravy from giblets and neck, if desired.
• Completely rinse turkey inside and out.
• Place turkey in large brining bag that will fit in your refrigerator.
• Create brine with 2 gallons water (or enough to cover turkey), 2 cups salt, 1 cup bourbon and 1/2 cup maple syrup.
• Refrigerate at least four hours.
• Remove turkey from brine, rinse and thoroughly pat dry.
• Add onion (sliced in half), garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf to inside of turkey. Season the inside with salt and pepper.
• Tie legs together with cooking string and twist wing tips under the back or cover with foil to prevent burning.
• Brush outside of turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
• Soak a full package of Cowboy’s Hickory Wood Chips in a large bowl for 30 minutes.
• Place a foil pan below the grate on one side of grill to catch drippings. To prevent excess smoke, fill it halfway with water.
• On the other side of grill, add two pounds charcoal and light it.
• Drain water from wood chips.
• When lump charcoal is ash gray, add about one cup of wood chips to the fire. Place grate back on grill. Let preheat for about 10 minutes.
• Arrange turkey on the grate, above the pan.
• Place lid on grill and cook turkey for approximately 15 to 20 minutes per pound, until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
• Add additional wood chips and charcoal every 30 minutes or as needed.
• When done, transfer turkey to serving platter, cover with foil and let stand 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
Turkey isn’t the only food to take outdoors on Thanksgiving — impart dynamic, smoky flavors to vegetables, fruits and even desserts by grilling over charcoal.
For year-round outdoor cooking tips, as well as food safety handling tips, visit the Cowboy Charcoal Blog, “The Roundup” at www.cowboycharcoal.com/blog.
Cooking outdoors knows no seasonal bounds. Delight Thanksgiving feasters by grilling your bird and the trimmings.