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Grill-Roasted Turkey

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Serves 14 (or 4 to 6 with ample leftovers)

If grilling isn’t your first thought when it comes to the Thanksgiving centerpiece, it’s probably because you haven’t tried it. The indirect heat of a charcoal or gas grill gives the whole bird a burnished, crisp skin over moist and smoky, succulent meat; plus, you’ll free up the oven for all the side dishes everyone expects.

  • One 14-lb. fresh, natural turkey
  • 3/4 oz. kosher salt (3 Tbs.if using Diamond Crystal; 1-1/2 Tbs. if using Morton)
  • 1 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium celery rib, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • Vegetable oil as needed
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted
Prepare the turkey

Remove the neck and giblets and reserve them (excluding the liver) if you plan to make broth with the carcass. Rinse and dry the turkey. Mix the salt and pepper and rub one-third of it in the cavity. Rub the remaining all over the outside of the turkey. Put the turkey on a rack set over a baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered for 8 to 12 hours.

When ready to roast, rub the turkey cavity with the herbes de Provence. Stuff it with the onion, celery, carrot, and lemon. Tie the legs together with kitchen string (to keep the vegetables from spilling out). Oil a V-rack (open to the widest setting if it’s adjustable) with vegetable oil. Rub the turkey lightly with vegetable oil and set it breast side down on the rack. Leave the turkey on the counter for 1 hour to bring it to room temperature.

To grill-roast the turkey on a charcoal grill

Fill a charcoal chimney with natural hardwood charcoal and light it. Set a disposable aluminum pan (about 10x14 inches) in the center of the charcoal grate to serve as a drip pan. Open the top and bottom vents halfway. When the charcoal is covered with light ash (after about 30 minutes), bank it on both long sides of the drip pan, dividing the coals evenly. Replace the cooking grate, cover the grill, and let it heat for 5 minutes.

Set the turkey, on the V-rack, over the drip pan and cover the grill. Roast for 45 minutes. After 20 minutes, fill the chimney with another load of charcoal and light it. When the turkey has roasted for the 45 minutes, move it (on the rack) to a baking sheet. Working quickly, stir the coals in the grill and replenish with the new batch of charcoal. Cover the grill. Baste the back of the turkey with about 1 Tbs. of the melted butter. Turn the turkey breast side up and brush the breast with about 1 Tbs. melted butter. Put the turkey and rack back on the grill over the drip pan.

Cover the grill and roast for another 45 minutes. Again, after 20 minutes, light another chimneyful of charcoal. When the second 45-minute interval is up, repeat the charcoal replenishment and basting steps. Rotate the turkey on the grill and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each thigh registers 170°F, another 25 to 45 minutes.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let it rest for 30 to 40 minutes before carving. Save the carcass, leg bones, and aromatics for broth, if making.

To grill-roast on a gas grill

Set a disposable aluminum pan (about 10x14 inches) on the part of the grill where you plan to roast the turkey. Turn all burners on to high, cover the grill, and heat for about 10 minutes. Set the turkey, on the V-rack, over the drip pan, and turn off the burner under it. Set the other burner(s) as needed to maintain a temperature of 400°F. Cover the grill and roast for 45 minutes. Move the turkey, on the rack, from the grate to a baking sheet. Baste the back of the turkey with about 1 Tbs. of the melted butter.

Turn the turkey breast side up on the rack. Brush the breast with about 1 Tbs. melted butter and put the turkey back on the grill over the drip pan. Roast for another 45 minutes. Rotate the turkey on the grill, baste with the remaining butter, and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each thigh registers 170°F, another 25 to 45 minutes.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let it rest for  30 to 40 minutes before carving. Save the carcass, leg bones, and aromatics for broth, if making.

Photo: Scott Phillips

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