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Throw a Florida Thanksgiving BBQ

November 15th, 2016

It’s that time of year again, time for the annual Thanksgiving Day BBQ by the pool. Wait, what? A BBQ on Thanksgiving Day? What about the turkey, stuffing and all the traditional trimmings? If you haven’t considered taking advantage of the awesome November weather in South Florida and having your Thanksgiving holiday poolside, here’s some tips for how to do just that.

Grill the Turkey

That’s right, if you are bucking the system, why not go whole hog and grill your turkey? If you’ve never considered putting your turkey on your BBQ grill, here are a few reasons why that might be a good idea:

One minor downside is that since the turkey is directly on the grill, you don’t get great drippings to use to make gravy. If you are attached to making your own gravy, roast a chicken a month or less before Thanksgiving and freeze the drippings and use them when you need them. This also gives you the advantage being able to make your gravy in advance.

Add your favorite sides: stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, greenbean casserole, whatever you like to have at Thanksgiving. You can mix it up a little with some traditional BBQ fare such as potato or macaroni salad, baked beans, and grilled veggies. And don’t forget the pumpkin or apple pie, served with ice cream, of course.

Instructions for Grilling a Turkey

Size up your grill and purchase a turkey that will fit in it. Generally a 12 to 14 pound bird is easier to handle on the grill. Just make sure there is approximately 1 inch of clearance between the top of your grill and the turkey.

Brine your turkey a day or two before to keep the meat moist and develop better flavor. If you have a charcoal grill, that is ideal and your turkey will have a smokier flavor. If you have a gas grill that’s fine too. If you prefer a smokier flavor add woodchips if your grill has that mechanism.

Recipe for Brined BBQ Turkey

Serves 10 to 12 people
A 12- to 14-lb turkey, (defrosted if frozen)
1/4 cup kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1-2 days before Thanksgiving:
This is a dry brine, rather than a wet brine. Rub the kosher salt all over the turkey, both under and over the skin. Put it in a small roasting pan or any other type of baking dish that fits in your refrigerator. Cover and keep refrigerated.

If you want a smokier flavored bird, soak two hands full of hickory and two hands full of cherry wood chips in water or beer for 30 minutes to an hour. Then add to the grill, either gas or charcoal, if the grill allows.

Thanksgiving Day:
Take the turkey out of the refrigerator approximately 1 hour before you grill it. Rinse and dry well. Generously coat the skin with the softened butter.

Prepare a covered gas or charcoal grill with medium heat. If using a gas grill, set it up for indirect heat. Preheat the grill for 10-15 minutes.

For a charcoal grill, place a metal or aluminum foil drip pan on the lower rack of the grill. Arrange coals on either side of the pan. Fill the drip pan about halfway with water, wine, or stock to create steam while grilling.

Center the turkey breast side up on the grill rack over the drip pan. Partially close the vents and cover the grill. Cook the turkey for approximately 3 to 3 ½ hours, or until its internal temperature is 160F on a meat thermometer. Check the grill temperature every 30 minutes to ensure that it remains between 275 and 325F. Add more coals (you can keep some warming on a side grill) and more liquid to the drip pan if needed. Or open and close the grill vent to help regulate the temperature. Rotate and baste as needed and cover the bird with foil if it begins to get too brown.

When done, place the turkey on a large platter or cutting board and let it rest 20 minutes or longer. If you start carving too soon, the meat will be dry. Bring out the sides and enjoy your Thanksgiving feast poolside.

Grilling a Thanksgiving BBQ