Make your Christmas turkey merrier by smoking it on the grill. Smoke the turkey outside while saving your oven space for the festive side dishes.
Begin by safely defrosting the bird in your refrigerator. Remove the neck and gizzards stored in the cavity and neck area. Rinse turkey with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place turkey on a clean tray.
Inject your turkey for added flavor and juiciness. Mix an injection solution made of 1 cup warm chicken broth, 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine and 1/2 teaspoon finely ground spices and seasonings (Cajun, cumin, garlic powder and/or rosemary). Mix well together and fill a turkey injector with the solution. Inject a full shot of solution into the large muscle group on each side of the turkey – breasts, legs , thighs. Tie the legs together with wire or cooking cord and fold wing tips underneath the body. With clean hands, rub entire outside of turkey with butter or margarine. Salt and season the inside cavity and outside of the bird. Fill the cavity with prepared stuffing if desired.
Soak a handful of hardwood chips, chunks or tree pruning in water to add smoke to the coals later. Apple, cherry, hickory are best for soft smoke flavor. Mesquite wood tends to add too strong of a smoke flavor.
It’s time to light the charcoal grill. Light 35 -45 charcoal briquets and wait until they are hot and grey. Place a shallow aluminum pie tin (drip pan) half filled with water in the center of the grill bottom. Divide the hot charcoal equally on opposite sides of the drip pan.
Place the prepared turkey on the center of the hot grill directly over the pan of water. Scatter a 1/3 of the soaked wood chips over the hot coals and cover the grill. open upper vent 1/2 way. Wait 45 minutes before removing cover and add another 1/3 cup soaked wood chips over coals and cover for 20 minutes.
Prepare another batch of charcoal by lighting 25-30 coals in a separate metal container such as a charcoal chimney or bucket. When coals are hot and grey remove the turkey with tongs from the grill onto a clean platter. Remove grill grate and add new coals dividing evenly on both sides. Add water to drip pan and final 1/3 cup of soaked wood chips to hot coals. Replace grill grate and place turkey on the grill over center of drip pan. Loosely wrap a piece of aluminum foil over the turkey. Replace grill cover with vent 1/2 open.
Turkey is finished (3-4 hours) when the leg bone loosens from the meat when twisting the tip of the bone. Internal temperature must be 165 F. degrees taken in the thickest part of breast down to the bone. Remove smoked turkey from the grill and place onto a clean serving platter. Allow the turkey covered with foil to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Surround platter of carved, smoked turkey with festive side dishes, family and friends – enjoy!