Cavemen AND Cowboys Smoke Their Turkey – Part II

SANTA CAME!!!!!!” was the exclamation that jolted me from peaceful slumber.  I knew it was coming — just a matter of time really — and it was still shocking.  At least the sun was up though.

In order for the timing to work out, the turkey needed to be off the grill at 4 o’clock.  I needed to set more time aside since I was using the charcoal grill today, so I figured 2 hours for a 12 pound bird,  plus ½ hour to light the fire.

I had put the turkey in the brine the night before (see Part I), pulled out the charcoal, and started soaking the mesquite chunks for the smoke in water.

Time to light things on fire!

Chimney starterWhat is mildly interesting about this, is that as the temperature rose progressively bottom to top, the silver turned to gray and showed temperature waves that look like layers of rock or sediment.  Variations were due to positioning of the charcoal, but it gave an overall idea when the coals were hot enough to pour out.


Getting the grill setup was easy enough.  Just shove the charcoal to one side, put a drip-pan on the other, take some wet mesquite chunks and put them on the hot coals and put the turkey on the grate.

Just put onAnd now… we wait.  I also brushed on melted butter after this picture.


Lid position is important here.  The vent should be placed with the holes opened above the turkey so it draws the smoke over the turkey.  The vent on the bottom is open as well to keep the heat around 350°F.  BBQ University has more info if you’re interested.

Note the smoke venting out.IMGP7648

While waiting for the time to replenish fresh charcoal and mesquite, it was clear the time was right to enjoy a cigar and some wild turkey 101.


I had to rotate the turkey 180° every 45 minutes so that it cooked evenly on both sides.  Each rotation meant a fresh coat of melted butter.  By the way, I used about 2 tablespoons, maybe 3 at most, so it doesn’t take much.

Here’s about halfway done — I have fresh charcoal and mesquite on the fire which got things pretty smoky for a while.


I didn’t insert a thermometer until 90 minutes had passed.  It’s worth checking early just to see where the temperature is at so you can make any necessary adjustments.

Because the temperature slowly falls off after adding fresh charcoal, it did take a bit longer than the gas grill.


But the smoke it so much richer! Here’s with about 10°F left to go.



And done! Look how dark it got


That last 20 minutes made it another shade darker.

So what differences are there in taste?  Much smokier. The meat was still juicy and tender, as it was on the gas grill (overcooking things doesn’t help with this), but the smoke “flavor line” penetrated much deeper.

Total time? 2:15 to cook and almost 3 hours total.  We’ll call that fashionably on time.

Lastly, serving the turkey up and sharing with our great friends made for a fine evening!


Mrs. RocksandLogs made some felt ornaments so Pebbles and Twigs (the tree-touchers) had something to look at on the lower half of the tree.

They’re over on Etsy!

IMGP7610 IMGP7585


Categories: BBQ, Caveman, Cooking, Cowboy, Fire | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cavemen AND Cowboys Smoke Their Turkey — Part I


Ok, I didn’t make my turkey on Thanksgiving because we went to a friend’s house. Mrs. RocksandLogs made these Maple-Bourbon Sweet Potatoes and they were great with all the other fixins!

Thanksgiving leftovers are fantastic so I still had to make a turkey.  I did two last year, and I’ll likely do a couple more this year — including one for Christmas.   My recipe is from BBQ U and it’s THE PERFECT THANKSKGIVING TURKEY.

So how to do it? First you brine it the night before.  10:36 in my case.

Stirring the pot

The turkey in the brine

I put the turkey in the bag in the pot to keep it submerged in the brine.  The tub is so if the bag has a pinhole, the brine will not make a mess.  Sure enough, in the morning there was brine in the bottom of the tub from some small hole

The next day, I was a little short on time, so I had to use the gas grill with the smoker box. I wanted to use charcoal, but gas is faster… oh well next time.

The nice thing about grilling outside on a 79°F/26°C day in December is that it doesn’t heat up the house.   It’s even more of an issue in the summer — it drives me nuts to think I’m burning natural gas to heat the oven only to buy electricity to take the heat out with the air conditioner.  Outside kitchens are definitely caveman and cowboy!

So anyways, I have the turkey rack to keep the meat off the black grates which are beyond cleaning.  Porcelain-coated iron grates have not been user-friendly for me. And they’re EXPENSIVE to replace, so I just got a stainless steel replacement grate to rest on top.

When you break it down, barbecuing a turkey is really just roasting it in a smoky oven.  I set the outside burners so 350°F was maintained and filled the smoker box with mesquite chips.

After brushing on melted butter, I let it sit in the heat and smoke and pretty soon (after checking it several times and brushing on butter each time), it was done.

The Formula:  This 

 plus this ↓

Turns the turkey into that ↓

Here’s last year’s turkey — it was a little bigger and darker because it spent more time in the smoke

Some notes:

    • I left the themometer probe that came with the turkey in the meat to see how it did compared to my digital thermometer. My digital themometer was reading 190ºF/88ºC right next to the probe (the red dot on top of the turkey) and the thing hadn’t popped out reaffirming for me that a good digital readout is worth the money.
    • Cooking time was 1:45 minutes this time.  Last year I had a 22 pound (10 kg) bird done in 2:05
    • You need a drip pan or an empty grease trap.  Last year, I was cooking the 2nd turkey and I noticed this by the grill:  When I opened the door I saw this: And then I figured it out.  It came from this — the greasetrap runneth over:  So I cleaned it up and put a bucket to catch the continued drips until the turkey was done and the grill cooled off.  That’s a lot of grease…
    • And plenty of grease drips under the turkey and doesn’t make it to the grease trap: 
    • Which looks like this when you turn the center burners on:


And you should know it tastes great! Smoky, salty, tender and worth the effort. Next time I’ll make sure I have enough time to use the charcoal grill and there are some differences I want to point out in Part II.

Lastly, here’s my project pile of logs.  These will be transformed soon!  Be sure to check out Rocks and Logs over at facebook


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Furniture a cowboy likes to use


My luck was good on the day a neighbor announced he was moving and needed to get rid of the items in his garage.  So what did I get?  A table saw, chop saw, drill press, circular saw, sawzall, orbital sander, and a bunch of other cool things.

I had to make something so I chose this inspiration of rustic furniture that Mrs. RocksandLogs found at Our Vintage Home Love

So now I needed some wood.

We went down to a used building material store and fetched a pallet.  Then my luck came through again when I had another neighbor tell me I could have whatever wood I could take out of the barn – Yesssss!

So from there, I got this here table built:

I didn’t think about taking in-progress pics, so next time I’ll have to do that.
Mrs. RocksandLogs also likes to paint, so she painted the stain on.
Lastly the polyurethane went on followed by the towel rack:
Makes a nifty kitchen island I reckon.  
Stay tuned for more.  I’m setting up the Etsy shop soon so if someone wants an original Rocks and Logs, they can get it.  
*Update 12/13/12: Etsy shop is up at
Craigslist Tucson listing as well
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Fire! Caveman need fire!


So when I sit on my back porch and the sun goes down, just turning on the lone porch light makes the ambiance seem… lame.

So what do? Christmas lights helped – I just ran them under the porch and it made a nice change.  Not quite a fire pit and/or tiki torches, but it IS cheaper and a solution…

But I still needed fire!  The fire pit is on hold at the moment, so that means tiki torches.  Months ago, I saw pictures of folks making tiki torches out of wine bottles and I thought, “cool idea.”

Well I happen to really love bourbon, so I made a modification.

Over at this website I found the how-to.

Everything I needed was at the local home store (except the bourbon) and took very little time to assemble.

I did things a little different because I wanted a free-standing torch, and the best thing I came up with was rebar.  I’m really happy with how it came out!

Waiting for the paint to dry on the rebar (6 foot length) was the longest part in order to ensure that the paint didn’t get messed up.

The last thing for me to do was pick a spot for the tiki.  I did and now I have ambiance on a stick — very caveman!

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The Start of Some Fun


Welcome to Rocks and Logs!

This is my blog covering a wide range of subjects being of interest to cavemen on up through the cowboys (cavewomen and cowgirls are just as welcome).

Who are the cavemen and the cowboys?  Well, I might say it’s simply the sides of us all that want to be wild, interesting, and fun.  It’s being outside with nature, or working with nature (ever built something with wood?  e.g. a fort?)  I thought about naming it “cave-folk and cow-people” to say I think girls are just as welcome, but I need something better than “cave-folk and cow-people”…

I look forward to developing this and sharing with future readers, so take a walk through the proverbial gate and fix yourself up next to the campfire!

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