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There's More Than One Way to Make Turkey

There's More Than One Way to Make Turkey

Kathie Smith | The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

There are more ways to cook a turkey than just roasting. For people with small ovens or ovens that suddenly don’t perform on a holiday, or for a special dinner, this should come as welcome news.

For those who just want to try something new for Thanksgiving dinner, it could be an adventure.

At my home, we’ve cooked whole chickens or turkey breasts on our grill but have never cooked a whole turkey. Our grill just isn’t big enough for the bulky bird.

Liz Sofo, who gave cooking classes and food demonstrations this fall at Jacob’s Garden, 4570 Sterns Rd. in Ottawa Lake, Mich., has been experimenting with the Big Green EGG grill, which Jacob’s Garden sells (from $275 to $1,100). The egg-shaped charcoal grill has a ceramic interior and is said to be derived from an ancient clay cooker called a “kamado.” The natural lump charcoal is lit with a natural fire starter or an electric lighter; no lighter fluid should be used. The design of the EGG draws air into the lower draft door, through the charcoal, and out of the damper top, which can be adjusted. The grill, which comes in five sizes, has smoker and grill capabilities as well as the ability to be used as an oven.

Ms. Sofo prepared a 14.5 pound turkey by brining it. She estimated cooking time would be 11 minutes per pound. “I love cooking in it,” she said, using a mid-size grill.

“I put the turkey on a rack on a ceramic stone to make it like a convection oven with air-flow and I used a drip pan with chicken stock,” she added. She also cooked redskin potatoes rubbed with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and rosemary and placed whole and halved onions inside and outside the turkey. She covered the wings and back of the bird with foil to keep them from getting too dark, then she closed the lid.

When brining, do not use a self-basting turkey; it has added salt and you will end up with a dry, salty turkey, Ms. Sofo advises. While brining, refrigerate the turkey either in your refrigerator or in a cooler packed with ice. The temperature of the turkey must stay at 40 degrees or below. If the brine is heated, allow time to cool completely before putting the turkey into it. Immerse the entire turkey in the brine. A brined turkey takes less time to cook than one that is not brined, she says.