Grilled turkey is worth the effort


November 16, 1994|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

Q: Last year I followed a recipe for a grilled turkey, which was the best I have ever had. Unfortunately, I have lost the recipe. Can you help?

A: Start a day in advance. Rinse the turkey and remove the giblets. I find that a brine creates a beautifully moist turkey. Place the turkey in a large pot and rub 1 pound of salt and 1/2 pound of sugar in the cavity and into the skin of the bird. Add cool water to cover the turkey. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

An unstuffed bird will cook quickly and more evenly, so bake the stuffing, wrapped in heavy duty foil, on the grill next to the turkey, over indirect heat.

To grill: Light 5 pounds of charcoal and when it starts turning to ash, separate it into two piles, one at each side of the grill. Put the grill rack in place. (If using a gas grill, light one side so the turkey will cook by indirect heat and close lid, then reduce heat to medium.) You may want to place soaked hardwood or herbs directly on the heat element to create a smoky essence. Place the bird on a V-rack in a sturdy pan and add 1 cup of chicken, vegetable or turkey stock and then cover the surface areas (not the turkey) with foil to prevent the stock and drippings from evaporating. Brush turkey with melted butter. Place pan on the grill (not over the heat source), close the lid and cook for one hour.

Do this next step quickly to retain the heat. (If you're using a charcoal grill, enlist some help to remove the pan with the turkey as you add more charcoal to each charcoal pile, enough to keep the heat even.) Baste the turkey, check the drippings, adding more stock if it has evaporated. Continue roasting with lid on for another hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

The meat should be done, yet still moist and flavorful when a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees when stuck in the leg pit. But to destroy any possibility of salmonella, however, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recommends cooking the turkey to 180-185 degrees. Let the turkey rest before carving and add the drippings to the gravy that was simmering while the turkey roasted.

How long can I keep infused vinegars? I would like to pour more vinegar into my 4-year-old bottle of raspberry vinegar. Is that OK?

Infused vinegars can be kept indefinitely. It is safe to add more vinegar to an aged bottle of raspberry vinegar, but keep in mind that the raspberries have probably imparted all the flavor that is possible. You can also add more raspberries to the bottle along with the new vinegar for more flavor.

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