a Thanksgiving feast can turn a home cook into an air
traffic controller of sorts.
timing is everything. The menu is planned based on limited
oven or stovetop space. The gravy is made while the turkey
is resting. The green bean or sweet potato casseroles are
baked while the oven is free. Everything is coordinated so
all the dishes land on the dinner table at the same time.
such a day, the grill can be your savior.
can use your grill strategically," said Kansas City,
Mo.-based cookbook author Judith Fertig, who has written
several grilling cookbooks — including "BBQ
Bistro" and "The BBQ Queens’ Big Book of
Barbecue" — with Karen Adler.
the turkey or a couple of sides to be cooked in a smoker or
on a charcoal or gas grill can make cooking this feast less
like directing airport traffic on the Wednesday before
Thanksgiving and more like a holiday. Even better, enlist
your spouse, a relative or friend to oversee the outdoor
and Raleigh, N.C.-based food writer Fred Thompson, author of
"Grillin’ with Gas" and "Barbecue
Nation," shared their advice for cooking some or all of
your Thanksgiving feast outdoors:
not cook anything larger than a 14-pound bird or you will
end up with dry meat. If you need more turkey to feed your
guests, cook two smaller turkeys rather than a 20-pound
Smoking and grilling can dry out the turkey, so consider
brining the bird beforehand.
Consider your grilling experience. "This is not the
time to do too much," Thompson said. "If you haven’t
smoked a turkey before, it’s not necessarily the best time
to do it." The same goes for frying a turkey, he adds.
Enlist an experienced griller if you can or do a practice
run if possible.
For beginners, the best option is the gas grill. Be sure to
roast the turkey in a roasting pan or disposable foil pan to
catch the drippings for gravy. If there is room, Thompson
places a pan of water or apple cider next to the turkey to
do "internal grill basting," which helps keep the
using a charcoal grill or smoker, Thompson recommends
natural hardwood lump charcoal, instead of briquettes, which
Plan on having the turkey finished cooking an hour before
you want to carve it.
the turkey done and out of the way, you can use the grill to
cook side dishes.
Anything in a baking dish — make-ahead mashed potatoes,
dressing, green bean casserole, and macaroni and cheese –
can be cooked or reheated in a gas grill. Consider it your
Use a cast-iron skillet on a grill to roast Brussels
Use a smoker or charcoal grill to cook sweet potatoes.
many classic dishes on the Thanksgiving table are all the
same texture: creamy. Fertig suggests using the grill to add
texture to the meal, by substituting grilled bread for those
soft yeast rolls.
of how you use your grill, it will help ease the traffic in
your kitchen. Plus, it’s not bad ambiance. "Just
being outside," Thompson said, "the smell of fall,
a little bourbon in the coffee or some hard cider for
sounds like a lovely Thanksgiving.
the platters and dishes show in the photos were borrowed
from Haand, a Graham, N.C.-based maker of porcelain pottery.
IDEAS FOR THANKSGIVING GRILLING
Potato Halves with Salmon and Dill: Serve these as an
appetizer. Place 18 halved baby red potatoes and 2
tablespoons water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with
vented plastic wrap and cook on high in the microwave for 5
to 6 minutes or until just fork-tender. Preheat gas grill to
medium heat. Brush potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with
salt and pepper. Place potatoes on grill and cook 5 to 6
minutes, turning over once. When done, remove from grill and
slice a flat surface onto rounded side of each potato to
prevent rolling. Top each with 1/4 teaspoon sour cream, 1
bite-size piece of smoked salmon and some dill.
Root Vegetables: Slice celeriac, jicama, big potatoes,
daikon or yams and grill slowly until very tender and
browned. Drizzle with olive oil or melted butter and
sprinkle with chopped rosemary or sage.
Green Beans with Herb Mayonnaise: Puree 1 bunch fresh dill,
leaves from 20 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1 cup
mayonnaise and 2 teaspoons cider vinegar in a food
processor. With machine running, slowly add 1/2 cup olive
oil through feed tube until incorporated. Place 2 pounds
trimmed green beans in a grill basket over medium heat on
grill. Cook until they begin to char and soften, about 5 to
7 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve with mayonnaise.
Apples or Pears for Dessert: Halve, core and grill pears or
apples. When done, drizzle with yogurt, honey and pinch of
cardamom or cinnamon.
"The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook,"
edited by Peter Kaminsky (Sterling Epicure, 2104); "The
Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen Grilling Cookbook"
(Hearst Books, 2013); and "Where There’s Smoke,"
by Barton Seaver (Sterling Epicure, 2013).
you start your menu planning and holiday-meal shopping, here
are a few handy things to know about turkeys:
much: Smaller turkeys have lower meat-to-bone ratios than
large ones. If the turkey is smaller than 16 pounds, figure
on 1 1/2 pounds per person to allow for leftovers. For a
turkey above 16 pounds, expect 1 pound per person.
Frozen turkeys take 24 hours per 5 pounds in the
refrigerator (3 days for 15 pounds). If the turkey is in a
refrigerator that isn’t opened often, such as an extra
refrigerator in a garage, it may take longer to thaw. To
thaw in cold water, completely submerge the wrapped turkey
for 1 hour per pound. Don’t refrigerate a fresh, raw
turkey longer than 3 days before cooking.
large turkeys are more challenging to handle. Instead of a
20-pound turkey, it may be easier to cook two 12-pound
turkeys, or a whole turkey and a turkey breast.
If you truss, truss loosely. Tying the legs too close to the
body can make the legs and thighs cook more slowly.
If you stuff, stuff loosely, so the stuffing has room to
expand. Use a thermometer to make sure the center of the
stuffing and all parts of the turkey reach 165 degrees.
a meat thermometer: With the body cavity facing you, slide
it in the thickest part at the bottom of the thigh, below
and to the inside of the leg. Wiggle the tip to make sure it
isn’t hitting bone.
the time: Let the turkey stand at least 20 minutes before
carving so the juices settle back into the meat. After that,
don’t let leftovers stand at room temperature for longer
than two hours, including the time it’s on the table.
"Grillin’ With Gas: 150 Mouthwatering Recipes for
Great Grilled Food," by Fred Thompson, (Taunton Press,
(12-pound) fresh turkey
pure maple syrup
cup plus 1 tablespoon salt, divided
tablespoon pickling spice
large carrot, peeled and halved crosswise
celery, halved crosswise
medium onion, peeled and halved
teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3
cups hickory wood chips, soaked in water for 1 hour
disposable aluminum pans, plus aluminum foil
giblets and neck from the turkey; reserve for other uses, if
desired. Rinse the turkey thoroughly with cold water and pat
the brine: Place water, maple syrup, bourbon, 1/2 cup salt
and pickling spice in a large stockpot. Bring to a simmer
and stir to dissolve the salt. Place turkey in a brining bag
or large plastic container with a lid and add additional
water to make sure the bird is completely submerged. If
using brining bag, close the bag tightly and consider
putting it in a second bag to make sure it doesn’t leak.
Refrigerate for 24 hours but no more than 36 hours or the
brine will make the meat mushy.
the grill racks. Preheat gas grill using all the burners set
on high and with the lid closed for 10 to 12 minutes. When
the grill is hot, turn off the center or back burner and
adjust the heat to medium-low. (Or build a fire for indirect
cooking in a charcoal grill.)
turkey from the brine, discarding brine. Pat dry inside and
out and set it on a baking sheet. Stuff the cavity with the
carrot, celery and onion. Slice the lemon in half and
squeeze the juice over the turkey, then place the rinds in
the cavity. Season the turkey with the remaining 1
tablespoon salt and pepper, rubbing it into the skin. Fold
wings under and tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
the wood chips and place in a smoker box (follow your
manufacturer’s instructions), or make a wood-chip packet
by placing 1 cup of soaked wood chips in a small disposable
aluminum foil pan; cover it with foil and poke a few holes
in the foil. Place the foil packet under the cooking grates,
directly on the angled metal plates covering the burners or
on lava rocks or ceramic briquettes. Place another small
disposable pan on the grill and fill halfway with water.
Prepare two more pans of wood chips for later.
turkey on the grill and cover. The turkey will need to cook
until a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees when inserted
in the thickest part of the thigh or the juices run clear
when nicked with a knife. A 12-pound turkey took about 2
hours. During this time, you will need to add water and wood
chips about every 30 minutes.
the turkey is done, remove from the grill and let stand at
least 30 minutes before carving.
12 to 14 servings.
PUMPKIN WITH DRY-CURED OLIVES AND GARLIC
recipe introduces you to the idea of grill roasting, where
you use your grill like an oven. You can buy a small sugar
or pie pumpkin, cut it into slices, and then grill-roast
this simple yet satisfying dish that will completely change
how you think about pumpkin. Reprinted with permission from
"BBQ Bistro," by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig,
(Running Press, 2015).
cup extra-virgin olive oil
large garlic cloves, sliced
small pumpkin, butternut or Hubbard squash (about 1 1/2
pounds), stemmed, seeded and cut into 2-inch wedges (at the
black, dry-cured olives, pitted and halved
teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a medium-hot fire in the grill. In a saucepan over medium
heat, warm the oil and garlic together until the garlic is
fragrant, about 4 minutes.
the pumpkin slices, olives and thyme in disposable aluminum
pans. Drizzle with the olive oil mixture, and then season
with salt and pepper. Place on the grill, close the lid and
grill for 20 minutes.
the lid and turn the pumpkin slices over. Close the lid and
grill for 15 to 20 minutes longer or until the pumpkin is
fork-tender. Transfer the pumpkin wedges to a platter and
drizzle with the juices from the pan. Sprinkle the olives
over the pumpkin and serve warm.
CABBAGE SALAD WITH APPLES, RAISINS AND WARM BACON DRESSING
by Kansas City-based cookbook Judith Fertig.
cup balsamic vinegar
cup olive oil
medium tart apple, like Granny Smith
slices bacon, chopped
tablespoon finely chopped shallot
cup toasted pine nuts
and freshly ground black pepper
raisins and vinegar in small bowl. Let soak while you
prepare the cabbage.
cabbage halves in thirds, leaving each portion with a part
of the core so it will stay together.
gas grill and oil grill grates or light charcoal (the
charcoal is ready when the coals are glowing red and coated
with light gray ash). Spread out coals and oil grill grates.
Grill cabbage; once cabbage has grill marks on one side,
turn it. The cabbage is done when it has grill marks on all
sides and has softened, about 12-15 minutes.
the cabbage from grill and place on a cutting board. Remove
core, slice cabbage and place in a large bowl. Set aside.
core and slice apple. Place apple slices in cold water so it
doesn’t turn brown. Set aside.
medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped bacon,
saute until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Add shallot to
bacon, stir and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add vinegar, raisins and olive oil. Season with salt and
pepper and stir to fully combine. Pour over cabbage. Toss
well; using your hands is best.
apple slices. Top cabbage with apple and toasted pine nuts
from "The Essential New York Times Grilling
Cookbook," edited by Peter Kaminsky (Sterling Epicure,
teaspoon black pepper
tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
pounds whole carrots
tablespoons butter, melted
cumin, salt, pepper and brown sugar in a small bowl. Set
carrots. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with
seasoning mix. Roll carrots around to coat. Set aside.
grill. Preheat gas grill and oil grill grates or light
charcoal (the charcoal is ready when the coals are glowing
red and coated with light gray ash), spread out coals and
oil grill grates.
carrots on grill until charred, then move away from direct
heat and cover the grill. Cook until the carrots are tender,
carrots from grill. Chop into bite-sized pieces, toss with
melted butter and serve.