B A R B E C U E D T U R K E Y
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours, plus half an hour for
resting, and 24 hours for brining
Serves: 9-10 as part of a meal, or 15-20 if making
Season: All ingredients available year-round
250 g smoke chips, soaked in water 30 minutes
1-3 disposable 23 x 15 cm (approximately)
2 large brown onions
100 g fresh ginger (weighed after peeling)
250 g coarse sea salt
4 large bay leaves
4 whole star anise
12 whole black peppercorns
175 g light brown sugar (a mixture of any brown
or white sugar will work too)
One 5 kg turkey, without giblets
1 large unwaxed or organic orange
3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tblsp toasted sesame oil
180 ml pure maple syrup
120 ml white wine
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
2 1/2 tblsp Dijon mustard
30 g butter
Peel off the outer brown skin of both the onions and the ginger. Combine in a very large pan with the salt, bay leaves, star anise, peppercorns and brown sugar. Pour over 5 litres of water and bring the mixture up to a simmer, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Set aside and allow the brine to cool completely. Wash the turkey in the brine, pressing to submerge. Chill overnight. If you don't have a pan or a deep pot which can hold the turkey and brine comfortably, it may sound a little crazy but a clean bucket will do quite nicely. Pour the brine over the turkey and cover as best you can with cling film. If you have any brine left over, refrigerate in a small container for another use. I've used this brine on duck breasts (without bones, brine 4 hours) and small chickens (brine 6 hours to overnight) with equal success.
If using a charcoal barbecue: Mound the charcoal in the barbecue and allow it to burn until light grey. Using tongs, carefully divide the hot coals into two piles, one pile at each side of the barbecue. Sprinkle each pile with a teacupful of chips if you are using them. Place an empty aluminum tray between the piles. Position the grill rack about 15 cm above the coals. Open the vents on the barbecue so that the chips smoke and the briquettes burn but do not flame (smoulder).
If using a gas barbecue: Preheat the barbecue with all the burners on high. Turn off the centre burner and reduce the temperature of the outside burners to a medium-low heat. Sprinkle a teacupful of chips in each of the two disposable trays and place them over the two remaining lit burners. Place an empty tray over the unlit centre burner. The grill rack should be about 15 cm above the burners.
Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Blot the turkey dry with kitchen paper. Cut the orange into thick wedges and stuff in the main cavity. Drizzle the olive oil and toasted sesame oil over the turkey and rub into the skin. Set it breast-side up on the barbecue, centred above the empty tray. Cover and start cooking — the whole bird will take about 4 hours to cook through. During this time, ensure the barbecue temperature remains constant. To do this, add six lumps of charcoal (if using a charcoal barbecue) every 30 minutes. Once the new lumps of charcoal have a light ash coating scatter over a few more dampened wood chips over the new coal. After 2 1/2 to 3 hours cooking, check the temperature of the bird by inserting a cooking thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The temperature you're after is 70°C / 160°F. Make sure not to touch any of the bones when taking the temperature. The juices should run clear when tested. If you don't have a thermometer, use a sharp knife to make an incision where the drumstick is touching the breast. There should be a collection of juices, and as above, when the bird is cooked they will be clear.
While the bird is cooking, place all the remaining ingredients together in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a simmer. When the turkey has cooked for three hours and has reached the internal temperature of 70°C / 160°F, brush the glaze over the bird and continue cooking for another hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 80°C / 175°F. Keep an eye on the turkey and cover any parts of the bird which may be getting too dark with foil. Once cooked, transfer the turkey to a plate and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 25 minutes before carving.