Turkey Day Preview

Well, it’s that time of year again.  All kinds of people are coming over in a couple of days, and a massive bird has failed to get pardoned by the President.  Now it’s staring at you every time you open the refrigerator,  taunting you.

Obviously, something must be done.

So, here’s my plan.  It’s worked in the past, and I’m sure it’ll work again.  One word: rotisserie.

Shopping List:

  • Turkey
  • Fresh sage
  • Dried Sage
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Herbes de Provence (optional)
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Rosemary (optional)
  • Celery (just the leaves)
  • wood chips for the grill (optional)

You’ll also need gravy (don’t count on getting any of the juices in the catch-pan), but that’s going to have to be a post of it’s own.

The basis for this comes from George Duran via the Food Network

Basically, the idea is a wet rub (meaning there is liquid in it, rather than just spices) with sage, pepper, Old Bay, and salt to get things started, some herbs for internal seasoning, and a bit of basting to make sure all the juices stay where they belong – in the bird.

So, to start with, combine in a bowl : 1/4c dried sage, 1/2c Old Bay, 1/4c pepper, 1tbsp of salt, 1/4c Herbes de Provence (optional – I’m trying this new this year).  Add to that 1/4 olive oil, and stir until the whole mess turns to mud.  Set that aside, and address the turkey.  Say nice things to it while you reach up it’s but and remove the giblets.  Then, replace that with something more aromatic – a full bunch of fresh sage, the leaves from a bunch of celery, and a few sprigs of rosemary.  I highly recommend tying the lot up in cheesecloth so you can extract it easier down the road.

So, turkey stuffed, truss it up so the legs are wired shut and the wings aren’t all flopping around.  It’s pretty straightforward, but if you’ve never done it, do a search on Google for photos.  Just watch out for those other sites.  Or don’t.  Then, grab that mud you made earlier and work it all over the bird’s body.  Rub it in good – she won’t mind, trust me.

Next, get the bird on the spit, and go light the fire.  Do a divided fire with a catch pan, even though it won’t make a difference – if you’ve done it right, there won’t be much in the way of drippings.  On the fire, I recommend some oak (or if you can find them oak wine barrel) chips for smoke.   It’s not a hard requirement though, just a little something extra.

While the fire is getting it’s flame on, mix together the juice of a couple lemons with 1/2c olive oil.  Go ahead and put that bowl near the grill, since you’ll need it there.

Now, it’s time for action.  Once the fire is ready, distribute the coals and put the turkey on the rotisserie.  Baste the bird with the lemon/olive oil mix while it’s spinning.

The old adage of 20 minutes per pound of turkey is very rough on a rotisserie.  You must have a meat thermometer, and let it go until the core temperature is 160F – 165F is the recommended temperature, but it will rise to that if you let it rest for 5-10 minutes before carving.  20 minutes is also important, because every 20 minutes, baste the turkey with more of the lemon/olive oil mixture.

After that, I just hope your carving skills are better than mine.  Fortunately, that doesn’t really affect flavor.