We brined and grilled a turkey for Thanksgiving again this year. We did it once a few years ago, and I forgot nearly everything we did, so this year, I decided to bookmark a few online resources and snap a few photos to help me remember how to do this more easily in the future.
We picked up a 15 pound Heidi's Hen Certified Organic Range Grown Turkey from our local Whole Foods on Tuesday. Wednesday evening, we prepared a turkey brine mixture based on How to Brine a Turkey (InGoodTasteStore.com), removed the innards from the turkey, rinsed it thoroughly with cold water, placed it sideways in our Coleman Personal 16 quart cooler (which we lined with a plastic garbage bag), and poured the brine over the turkey, adding about a dozen ice cubes on top before closing the lid. I was a bit concerned about the resident coyotes, but decided the handle lock for the lid would be strong enough, and so left the cooler outside on the deck overnight.
Thursday, I fired up the two outer burners of our Weber Genesis Silver B gas grill, pulled the turkey out of the brine, and let it drain on a rack in the sink for a bit while the grill heated up (I decided not to rinse it or pat it dry, although several sets of instructions I found recommended doing both). I pinned the wings to the main bird, so as to prevent them hanging out directly over the active burners, placed the turkey and rack in a roasting pan, added about a cup of water, and placed the whole rig in the center of the grill, which left just enough room to close the lid of the grill while cooking.
I loosely followed instructions I found for Grilling Your Bird on the Barbeque (ReluctantGourmet.com), calculating the cooking time as 3 hours (12 minutes x 15 pounds), and maintaining a near-constant grill temperature of 350 degrees. However, since I was using a roasting pan, I decided would only turn the bird once (at the 90-minute mark, at which point I added another cup of water), and only reverse direction (180 degree rotation) rather than do a complete flip. Unfortunately, the propane tank expired shortly into the process, and I overcompensated by cooking the bird an extra 15 minutes -- it was a little dried out (though not badly so), and I think that I would have been fine at the 3 hour mark (even with the period of time the grill fell below 350 degrees). Next time I will start checking the temperature of the turkey with a meat thermometer about 30 minutes before the target end time, to reduce the likelihood of overcooking.
Amy, her aunt Nell and cousin Katie prepared all the other fixings, and everything was ready about the same time. In preparation for the special dinner, I had cleared all the Interrelativity equipment and paperwork out of the dining room -- which had been my office during my startup [ad]venture (maybe I'll clean up, or at least update, the web site during the Christmas / New Year holiday week), so the nine of us (including Katie's sister, Heidi, husband, John, and daughter, Georgia ... and, of course, Meg and Evan) could all eat around the table.
For wines, I followed what has become my traditional Thanksgiving wine and food pairing strategy: drink what you like, bringing out a selection of southern Rhone wines: the 1998 Patrick Le Sec Chateauneuf du Pape "Aurore", the 1998 Domaine de Villeneuve "Ville Vignes" and the 1999 Chateau St. Cosme Gigondas. As some of the guests wanted white, I also opened up a 1999 Silver Lake Chardonnay "Founders Series" and a 2000 Renwood Viognier.
I just realized that after carefully capturing the preparation of the meal, and even snapping a photo of the wines, I did not take any photos at the meal itself ... that will be the goal for next Thanksgiving ... when [hopefully] the meal preparation won't require quite so much attention.