Turkey is such an underrated meat and trying to find recipes how to barbecue turkey can be a nightmare if you’re outside of the Thanksgiving or Christmas season. So fear not, I've got loads of great recipes below to make grilling or smoking turkey really easy no matter what time of year it is.
I guess it’s underrated as a meat because it’s really easy to get it wrong, especially if you are roasting the whole bird. Indeed I’ve regularly cooked a Turkey using a general rule of thumb such as so many minutes per pound and I always end up with something that’s bone dry on the breast.
So that tells me that there's no substitute for a bbq thermometer. It's not a cop out to use one, there are other traditional methods such as the long skewer to give the bird a prod and see what colour the juice runs but this method is not fail safe. I used to think myself "above" using a temperature probe but now I wouldn't be without one.
Click here for an accurate guide to safe internal meat temperatures. On this basis you won’t find me being very prescriptive on cooking times and clearly with barbecuing it really depends so much on the strength of the fire / warmth of your smoker.
So having just extolled the virtues of safe cooking for poultry I'm now going to have you throwing your hands up in the air in disgust. Or maybe you might find this interesting? They swear by this method in France and I've tried it and it definitely gave me the best results I've ever had. The simple rule is that when you've finished cooking a whole turkey, cover it with foil and let it rest the same length of time that you have cooked it.
Whether you choose to apply this rule rigidly or maybe go for a couple of hours resting I'll leave to you. By the time you come to carve your turkey the core temperature will inevitably have cooled but the meat will be supremely moist because all the juices mobilised during the cooking will have been re-absorbed into the meat and reached a gelatinous consistency. Serve on hot plates with hot veg and hot gravy.
You can also help the cause by buying a quality turkey, either wild or organic is best. It’s not just about animal welfare, the meat tastes better too and buying a quality bird is the sure fire way to ensure a perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.
I suppose I’m as guilty as the next man for only cooking a barbecue turkey once a year and the most important family meal of the year and then I’m surprised that I get it wrong? So resolution No.1 is to barbecue turkey once a month through the year and get it right.
Or try this Christmas Barbeque Turkey Recipe with lemon and garlic butter.
And don't miss my essential tips for cooking smoked turkey.
For The Grill:-
Thai Grilled Turkey Legs - Succulent turkey thigh smothered in a green curry paste.
It's interesting to note that there's no clear reason why turkey is the traditional bird served for Thanksgiving. The most plausible to me is probably the least exciting...it was on the table at the first Thanksgiving meal (amongst other things) and it simply evolved from there.
Turkey for British Christmas dinner however has been commonplace since the 17th Century albeit other birds such as goose, capon and duck were also popular. Again there seems to be no clear reason why turkey took the lead, some cite Charles Dickens and his Christmas Carol character Bob Cratchitt dining on turkey as being a defining moment but it would appear that evolution rather than revolution was at play.
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