Maple Brined, Wood Smoked Turkey Print Email

A covered 22-inch Weber kettle charcoal-fueled grill will work perfectly. Allow a total time of approximately 4 to 4 1/2 hours to start the fire, cook the turkey and let it rest.

For the Brine:
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup coarse salt
3 whole heads garlic (separated but not peeled) and bruised
6 large bay leaves
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped unpeeled ginger
2 tsp. dried chile flakes
1 1/2 cups soy sauce
3 quarts water
handful of fresh thyme sprigs

For the Turkey:
Olive oil for brushing
12 - 14 lb. fresh turkey

To brine the turkey. Combine all the brine ingredients in an enamel or stainless steel pan big enough to hold the brine and the turkey. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat, and let cool completely. Remove the neck and giblets, rinse the turkey well, and put it in the cold brine; add more water if the brine doesn't cover the bird. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 days, turning the bird twice a day.

Preparing the turkey. Remove the bird from the brine, pat it dry, lightly brush it with the olive oil, and set aside. Prepare the grill by lighting about 30 charcoal briquettes or small pieces of hardwood charcoal. When the coals are hot and spotted gray, put an aluminum foil drip pan in the middle of the grill. Arrange half of the coals on one side of the pan and half on the other. Put 1/2 cup of so of wood chips in a double layer of aluminum foil and set them on the hot coals.

Place the turkey on the upper rack, breast side up, in the center of the grill. Cover the grill and partially close air-vents. Regulate the vents to keep the wood chips smoking and the coals burning slowly, checking every 25 minutes or so. Add charcoal periodically. Keep the temperature in the grill between 275 and 325 degrees.

Add more wood chips as you need them. Keep the smoke going for 1 1/2 to 2 hours; then remove the chips and continue grilling until the bird is done. Total cooking time is from 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Test with an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh or breast. When the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, remove the turkey, let it rest at lest 20 minutes before carving.

Chef John Ash of Fetzer Vineyards

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