“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!
What 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.
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.
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!