We have asked our resident Kamado Joe griller, Dorik, for his Turkey Tips this season and he quickly gave us the rundown on how he preps his poultry each Thanksgiving.
1. Brine your turkey! There really isn’t an if/and/or statement when you ask him about the way a turkey should be cooked. It all starts with the brine. Dorik recommends 4 cups kosher salt dissolved in 2 gallons of water. Bring it down to “refrigerator cool” before submerging your turkey. The Spruce.com recommends brining your bird for an hour per pound. So a 12 pound turkey would need 12 hour of brine time. Dorik brines his overnight in the refrigerator and says even if you don’t have that much time, 4-6 hours will make a difference in helping your turkey retain the moisture and juices during cooking.
IMPORTANT: Always use a safe plastic to brine in. We recommend this brining bag kit from Amazon. When in question, always look for the food safe symbol on any plastic container you are looking to use. See below for reference:
2. After your hours of brining are up, rinse both the cavity and skin under cool running water for a few minutes to ensure all traces of salt are gone. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels.
3. Place turkey on meat rack set over rimmed sheet pan in refrigerator overnight, uncovered
and air dry for at least 8 hours or overnight. (this helps the skin become crispy)
4. Before heading over to his grill, Dorik injects the bird meat all over with a mixture of 4 sticks melted butter and 1 beer. Talk about a butter beer from the Wizarding World! He recommends our local Red Hook’s ESB for it’s caramel malt sweetness and subtle spice and fruit hop flavors. He rubs outside with salt, pepper, dried thyme, rosemary, sage and garlic powder.
Need an injector? Check out Amazon’s Bayou Classic 5011.
5. After finishing the outside of the turkey, Dorik then quarters an onion, fresh garlic and thyme and loosely places into the turkeys cavity. Packing the turkey too tightly with stuffing will prevent turkey from cooking evenly.
6. Hands down, Dorik’s cooking method of choice is his Kamado Joe Grill loaded with lump charcoal and a few oak chunks from bourbon barrels (obtained from Makers Mark in KY. Where he is a Maker’s Mark ambassador!)
His next steps at the grill are as follows:
I will use a heat deflector plate, grill grate, drip pan and wait for temp to get up to 325°. Once up to temp, I just place the Turkey in the middle of grill, place “in-oven” thermometer in thickest part of leg, close the lid and crack a cold one. (I will not open lid until turkey is up to temp) It is so great to cook the Turkey on the grill outside because it frees up the kitchen oven for other favorite items. Cooking time takes about 2.5-3 hours. Remove and let rest. Carve and Serve.
Dorik also recommends leftovers (my personal favorite!) and to always save the turkey carcass for making turkey broth. Bring to boil in large pot, reduce heat to simmer for about an hour, strain and freeze for next year. I like to use the turkey broth from the previous year for my giblet gravy. Its delicious! And for Cyber Monday … turkey sandwiches for lunch!
Cooking turkeys brings on great food debates, but that’s for another time, and another post.