Just waking up from the tryptophan coma and realized I neglected to make a Thanksgiving post. So here’s a Post-Thanksgiving post. Mostly, it’s an excuse to throw up some shameless photos of the bird this year. Like most years, the turkey was cooked on the Big Green Egg. Unlike most, beer played an integral part in the cook, as you’ll see below. I figure for a beer and bbq blog, I ought to chronicle that, eh?
For those following along, I use the Mad Max method of cooking the turkey as found on the most excellent Naked Whiz site. I deviate from the recipe, but the cook method is the same. On Wednesday evening, I started with a clean egg (not pictured) and loaded to the top of the fire box with lump charcoal. Bright and early Thursday morning, I placed a few chunks of apple wood in the egg, lit the lump with a MAAP gas torch (more POWER!), placed the platesetter on top, and then my cast iron grid. Now, I say this because this is how I’ve set up the turkey for the past four or so years. This year, however, we ran into an issue. More on that later
The smoke was billowing beautifully (see first photo), so I went inside to prepare the bird.
In this photo are the three secrets, in my not-so-humble poinion, to producing a succulent and flavorful roasted turkey: beer, boobs, and a bag of ice.
We’ll start with the beer. Most people use wine in their roasting pan. In my house, we use beer. Actually, this was the first year using beer as opposed to white wine. When I saw the sixer of Shiner Cheer from Spoetzl (Flash, UGH!), I knew their “Old world dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans” would lend a light fruitiness and nutty base for the gravy. Plus, it would be nice to have a bit of Texas on the table. Plus, this year’s recipe was Bobby Flay’s grilled turkey glazed with a spicy apple glaze. Jalapenos and apples plus pecans and peaches? Yes, please!
The other two secrets are critical to ensuring the white/breast meat doesn’t dry out (a phenomenon less-likely to occur in the Big Green Egg, but I still do this) as the thigh continue to cook. See those little “packages” in front of the Shiner Cheer? Those are my special “butter boobs”, which are prepared the night before. 12-16 hours before roasting, I remove the bird from whatever brine or flavor marinade it’s been resting in for the previous 24-48 hours (no brine this year, actually) and allow to sit uncovered in the fridge to dry the skin out. At the same time (or immediately after) I chop up whatever herbs I’m using and mix into a stick of butter until I have a nice herby paste. Next, slice a lemon (this year, an orange) in half and pack half the butter into it. It helps to wrap in plastic wrap and twist until it forms a half-dome of butter. These get chucked into the freezer.
An hour before the cook gets underway, remove the bird from the fridge and place a gall-sized bag of ice cubes on the breast area. The premise of this (and the butter boobs) is to allow the dark meat to come up to room temp while keeping the breast meat chilled. This makes the breast meat cook slower than normal. White meat usually cooks fast and dries out before the dark and this chilling solves that problem.
Just prior to popping the turkey in the oven or grill, you get to perform a breast augmentation. Carefully life and separate the skin from the breast meat and insert the butter boobs in a butter-side-down orientation. Not only will the frozen citrus suppress the cooking, they will baste the breast meat with juice and butter while melting. Let me tell you, this adds incredible flavor and moistness to the meat!
The only thing left to do is add various veggies and apples to the roasting pan and pour in the two bottles of beer before getting the heat on.
This is where we had our problem, Houston. In previous years, the turkey fit great. Even though the bird was around the same size, it must not have been the same size ’round. The lid of the Egg would not close. Of course, it could have been the difference in butter-boob cup-size (oranges instead of lemons) this year.
The fix was to remove the platesetter and move the cast iron grate to just above the fire. This had me a little worried, so I added a little water to the roast pan. The roast went without a hitch, however.
Enough with the talking already. Let’s warp through to the last world.
About an hour in
And with that, I unfortunately forgot to take any further photos of the bird until he was dismembered and eaten. To be honest, I don’t think I would glaze the bird again. It left what should have been a crispy exterior with a somewhat chewy (though delicious) texture. I will likely go back to the Mexican “Pavo al Horno” rub I’ve done in the past but skip the brining. The meat was