Archive for December, 2010

Big Green Egg Turkey Roast

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Following Mad Max’s recipe (found here: I cooked a turkey on our Big Green Egg for an early Thanksgiving. It wasn’t as easy as I had hoped, but I think that was mostly my fault (more on that to come). That being said, the turkey was good and the gravy was REALLY good. I plan on trying another soon now that I have an idea of how it should go.

Here is my interpretation of Max’s recipe.

Step 1: Gather ingredients. You’ll need:

What you'll need to get started.

1. A fresh unfrozen turkey (mine was 12 lbs. the recipe calls for one about 21 lbs.)

2. Two onions

3. Celery and perhaps some carrots

4. Fresh herbs like tarragon, sage, thyme, rosemary and whatever else sounds good to you.

5. Two apples

6. A lemon

7. 4 sticks of butter (approximately 1 lb.)

8. Gallon zip lock bag

9. 1 bottle white wine

10. Flour (The kind specifically for gravy – not white)

11. Roasting pan (or 2)

12. Stock pot at least 4 quarts

Step 2: Preparing the bird & Stock.

First I cleaned out the bird. Making sure to remove the neck, giblets, etc. I then took all of this and placed it in the stock pot. To the pot I added some of the fresh herbs, a halved onion, some stalks of celery, carrots, salt and pepper. I then covered all of this with water and allowed it to simmer all day. You may need to add water throughout the day to keep it full. This will have your house smelling great all day.

stock for gravy

Once that was on the stove I began to prepare the turkey. I washed it inside and out and then patted it dry. I seasoned the bird’s cavity liberally with salt and pepper. I then stuffed the turkey with one halved onion, a quartered apple, a quartered lemon, garlic and some fresh herbs.

Next I took the remaining herbs and minced them. I added two sticks of softened butter to make a paste for the outside of the bird.

Minced herbs

At this point the turkey was ready to go into it’s pan. Using a V-rack I placed the turkey breast side up in the roasting pan. (Editors note: Finding the right size roasting pan is imperative! I tried using a disposable aluminum pan. It didn’t fit correctly on the EGG and I had to bend it like crazy to make it fit. I believe this whole process would have been much easier with the right size roasting pan.)

IMPORTANT:  Next I took the gallon ziplock bag and filled it with ice. I then put the bag of ice directly on the breast of the turkey for 20-30 minutes. What this does is lower the breast temps sufficiently that over the course of the roasting, the breast and thighs will be done at the same time.

After 20-30 minutes with the bird still in the roasting pan on the rack, I rubbed the paste all over the outside of the bird. I also rubbed some underneath the skin to apply the paste directly to the breast.

Adding herb paste to turkey

Making sure to cover as much as possible.

Once the bird was covered I also added some pieces of quartered apple to the roasting pan beneath the rack.

Step 3: EGG Set-Up

This was most definitely the most difficult part. As I mentioned I didn’t have the best roasting pan so getting the EGG in proper setting was a hassle. It took some maneuvering, but my final set-up was:

Plate Setter – legs up

BGE “feet” on the plate setter.

Roasting pan with v-rack and turkey on top of the “feet”.

I was concerned about the top of the turkey touching the dome. It didn’t, but it did create an issue with the thermometer (more on that later). My goal was to have enough air flow between the levels that my roasting pan wouldn’t scorch the drippings as I would need those for the gravy, but not have the bird too high in the EGG. For future turkey cooks I think using a roasting pan inside another roasting pan with some water in it would be the best set-up and would preserve the most drippings.

Once I was happy with the set-up I fired the EGG up and stabilized it for coooking at 325 degrees.

Step 4: Getting the turkey on the EGG

With the EGG steadily at 325 I was ready to put the bird on. I put the roasting pan on the cooking set-up and poured half of the bottle of wine over the entire bird. Most of this ended up in the bottom of the pan to mix with the drippings.

covering the turkey in the white wine

ready to cook

Step Five: The Cook

With the turkey on the EGG set at 325 degrees I expected out bird to take about 4 hours. I closed the lid and walked away for about twenty minutes. When I returned I noticed that the EGG was only at about 180 degrees. This surprised me, so I opened the EGG for more air flow. I checked again about half an hour later and now the temp was at just under 200 degrees. I opened the lid and it was definitely hot in the EGG, and the bird appeared to be cooking slightly. I opened the vents fully.

After 2.5 hours on the EGG

The rest of the time the bird was cooking I was constantly fiddling with the heat. No mater what I did I just couldn’t get the temperature above 200 degrees. The bird appeared to be cooking, but wasn’t getting as brown as I expected. I ended up cooking the turkey for about five hours before I realized the problem….the end of the thermometer that was suppose to read dome temp..was sticking inside my bird! I quickly realized that I couldn’t get the temperature reading elevated because I was getting a reading of an average temp between the cold turkey breast and the hot grill air.  I also realized that I had probably WAY overcooked my bird.

After 5 hours

Once we pulled the turkey off of the grill and let it sit we realized it still looked pretty juicy. I was happy that it hadn’t dried it out too badly. However, I was surprised to cut into the thing and see pink meat. I knew the internal temperature was correct and there was no way it could be undercooked. Upon further inspection we realized it was fully cooked, but that the smoke of the grill had given the skin a pink tone.

Step Six: Gravy

When removing the bird from the roasting pan I made sure to tilt the bird up and allow the juices inside of it to spill out into the roasting pan with the rest of the drippings.

drippings for gravy

Fat separating from drippings

Once that was done I removed the apple and poured the drippings into a glass bowl to separate. After the fat separated from the rest of the drippings I skinned it off the top and disposed of it. I then took the roasting pan and placed it on two burners on the stove and melted two sticks of butter in it. Using a whisk I whisked the butter and making sure to get some of the burnt remains on the bottom of the pan. I then added about a 1/2 cup of flour to start creating a paste. I then kept whisking the paste until it became thick and smooth. I had a hard time doing this in my bent up pan, so I moved the mixture to a different pan for the gravy mix.

After this I turned up the heat and added the rest of the wine. Once the wine has been reduced down to about 1/3 I added the remaining liquid from the drippings that I had skinned the fat off of. You have to keep constantly whisking this to keep is smooth and thick, adding flour as needed. This becomes exhausting so make sure to have an assistant whisker standing by.

whisking gravy

As this mixture thickens you can begin ladling in some of the stock you’ve been cooking in the pot all day. Once you reach a consistency you’re happy with you can add salt and pepper to taste.

Once this is done you can serve and enjoy!