So you love a BBQ and want to go for the epic challenge of cooking the family bird in the great outdoors? BEST DECISION EVER!
Barbecuing the Christmas bird frees up your oven for potatoes or whatever else you are cooking.
Though, if you are lucky enough to have a multiple layer BBQ – you can easily roast your potatoes and veg in it too! All you need is a kettle barbecue, a bit of charcoal and a meat thermometer. (You could of course use a gas barbie too, on a low setting and without the burner(s) directly under the bird lit.)
And using a BBQ for your bird is incredibly simple. After two hours and 15 minutes, a 5 kg turkey will emerge golden, succulent and full of flavour. The dark meat should be nice and gamey, the breast juicy, the skin crisp and even.
1 x 5kg turkey
Bunch of thyme
Bunch of rosemary
Preparing the bird
An important step for a mouth-watering result. Brine the turkey the night before. In 10 litres of water, with 800g of salt, rest the bird for 13 hours.
The morning of, desalinate your turkey for 60 minutes, changing the water every 15 minutes.
If you like, tie the wings to the side of the body and pull the legs together with butcher’s string. Place a whole lemon, a handful of rosemary and thyme in the cavity, with a squeeze of lemon juice over the skin. Give the skin a good layer of butter and your bird is now ready to cook!
Preparing the BBQ
Begin by preparing your barbecue. Light the coals and wait until they’re covered in a fine layer of ash, then bank them to two sides of the barbecue. Place a container of water in between them – this may need refilling during cooking.
This kind of barbecuing calls for indirect heat – the bird sits on the grill with the coals underneath off to the sides. Rather than grilling a steak directly over ferociously hot coals, with indirect grilling the heat circulates round the oven and is reflected from above by the barbecue’s curved lid. The temperature is trickier to maintain than in a conventional oven, but in practice this doesn’t matter too much as long as you top up with additional fuel when necessary.
Make sure your coals have cooled down sufficiently before you start. They’re ready when they’ve developed a thin surface covering of white ash, and then you bank them up to the edges of your kettle. Keep a vigilant eye on them: you’ll probably need to add more after an hour. (The extra coals should be alight and up to temperature – a chimney starter is the easy and safe way to light and distribute them.)
It is worth placing an additional try of water underneath the bird to catch the juices. Later, you can reduce the juices and add to the gravy. The water also helps retain moisture in the barbecue.
Cooking the Turkey
Place on the grill and cover. You need a decent amount of air circulating, so the vents in the barbecue lid should be three-quarters open. If you have an oven thermometer, you want the temperature to remain at a relatively constant 180C.
Make a simple basting sauce by melting the rest of the butter and stirring in thyme and rosemary. And so, with the turkey in a foil tray – you are ready to cook! Every 30 minutes baste the bird with thyme and rosemary steeped in melted butter.
The bird is ready when its internal temperature reaches 65C at the thickest point; typically this should take just over two hours. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, sneak a peek at the flesh between thigh and body to make sure it’s cooked.
Once cooked, rest the bird for 60 minutes under foil whilst you finish preparing all the trimmings and get the wine flowing!
Top tip! For even more flavour, we recommend using a cherry wood to smoke the bird, but that is all really down to your individual preference.
And just like that, your Christmas turkey is a BBQ success! You’ll wonder how you ever managed the entire dinner in the oven.
Check out our blog for ideas to convince your family to have their Festive feast BBQ’d this winter!