1st & 2nd July 2017. Bristol Harbourside.

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Smokin’ your Xmas Turkey

Every day is a BBQ day and Christmas Day is no exception. This recipe takes the often bland, dry, generic turkey and pumps it up a few notches to a moist,crisp-skinned, subtly smoky bird of beauty. Brining increases the succulence and flavour of the turkey, helping the bird to retain moisture during cooking and preventing it drying out.

INGREDIENTS

6kg turkey, giblets removed
1 orange, halved
1 rosemary sprig
1–2 thyme sprigs
12 streaky bacon rashers
100g butter, melted, for brushing

For the bourbon brine

250g sea salt, preferably Maldon
250g light soft brown sugar or 250ml maple syrup
250ml bourbon
About 15 whole black peppercorns
2 cloves
Wide strips of zest from 2 lemons
A few bay leaves

 

METHOD

To make the bourbon brine, heat 6 litres water in a large saucepan and stir in the salt and sugar or maple syrup until dissolved. Add the rest of the brine ingredients and leave to cool.

Pat the turkey dry with kitchen paper and place it breast-side down in a cool box or large container with a lid. Pour the brine mixture over the turkey until it is completely submerged. Cover with a lid and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning it over halfway.

Alternatively, store the container in a cold garage or shed for 24 hours with frozen bottles of water packed around the turkey to keep it cool. Make sure you replace the frozen bottles every few hours.

Remove the turkey from the brine bath and pat dry with kitchen paper. Discard the brine.

Set up your BBQ to cook indirectly at a medium heat, around 160°C. Add your choice of smoking wood to the coals – we like to use pecan or fruit wood such as cherry or apple with poultry.

Put the 2 orange halves and the herbs in the turkey cavity; there is no need to season the bird.

Arrange the bacon over the breast of the turkey. If you want to get fancy, you can make your turkey a bacon-weave jacket. Make it feel special.

Put the turkey, breast-side up, on the BBQ and cook for 1 hour. Remove the bacon when crispy and brown. At this point every screaming ounce of your body will want to eat the bacon – this is normal, but you must resist.

Brush the turkey with melted butter (you could squeeze over some chargrilled orange, too) and again every 30 minutes. Continue to cook the turkey until its internal temperature hits 70°C, covering the bird with foil if it starts to burn (especially the wings and the ends of the legs) – about 4 hours in total. The turkey is ready when the skin is golden and the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.

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Leave the turkey to rest for 20 minutes before carving – don’t cover it with foil or the skin will lose its crispness. Now you can eat the bacon, on the side!

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