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Brine It, Grill It. The BEST Turkey Recipe!

I have a tradition which is to cook my Thanksgiving turkey in a pretty non-traditional way. I charcoal grill it. I discovered this recipe 6 years ago while reading an issue of Yankee Magazine. The recipe was provided by Chef Geoff Gardner of Sel de la Terre Restaurant in Boston which has been named one of the top 100 new restaurants in the world by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. On a whim, I decided to try this recipe and it has changed my whole Thanksgiving turkey perspective! I LOVE the flavor this brine gives to the turkey and the moistness of the meat. Combined with the smokey grilled flavor, this is by far the best turkey recipe!  I have tried this recipe with both store-bought and locally-raised turkey and it works well with either.

Marylander's have lots of options to purchase local turkey. I would encourage you to find a turkey farm near you that does direct to consumer sales and give them a try. Click here for the list of Maryland turkey farms:  Find a Maryland Turkey Farm If your not a Marylander, google your state's department of agriculture which should have a listing of turkeys and other products that farmers in your area sell directly to consumers. Try to support your local farmers whenever possible!


2 cups sea or kosher salt

2 cups sugar

2 T dried thyme

1 T dried rosemary

2 T whole black peppercorns

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 gallons water

12-14 lb turkey

5 bay leaves

1 orange sliced in half

1 apple sliced in half

In large stockpot, combine 2 gallons water, salt, sugar, dried thyme & rosemary, peppercorns, and garlic. Bring to a simmer and stir to dissolve salt; remove from heat. Fill sink with ice water, then lower pot into sink to cook brine. When brine is cooled, submerge turkey in brine. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Heat grill to medium (about 375-400 F). If using charcoal, build fire on one side of grill. Remove turkey from brine and discard brine. Rinse and pat turkey dry, place bay leaves inside cavity, rub skin with sliced orange and apple, then place in cavity. Place turkey breast side up in a large disposable aluminum baking pan and place on grill. (Blogger note: I also place the turkey in a cooking bag which I think helps keep the flavors and juices inside).  If using charcoal, place pan on opposite side of fire for full circulation of heat. Cover grill tightly. The grill does need to be placed out of direct wind or you will never be able to maintain the temperature of your grill. DO NOT place your grill in your garage or other enclosed space due to carbon monoxide poisoning!

Check turkey every 30 minutes and baste with any pan juices. Charcoal grills may need to have extra charcoal added to maintain heat. Be careful not to let grill flare up. Grill turkey about 2 hours or until meat thermometer inserted into thigh registers 170 F. Let turkey rest at least 30  minutes before carving.
Enjoy & have a blessed Thanksgiving!
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