With Christmas fast approaching, I'm sure loads of you are starting to write your food plans for the day, and more importantly figuring out how to make the best use of your kitchen to get everything cooked on time!
What better way to make space in your oven, than to cook the turkey on the BBQ? You might have considered this before or you might do it every year - but if you're on the fence, I'm here to tell you it's much easier than you think.
If you've got a BBQ with a lid, and a way to control the airflow in and the airflow out, then you've got everything you need. So watch our video guide below where I show you how to cook a turkey on the BBQ - and I promise it will be the best turkey you ever cooked!
How to Cook a Turkey on the BBQ
If you've cooked a turkey on the BBQ before and you're looking for some particular advicem, you can find the video chapters below:
00:00 - Introduction
00:07 - Dry Brining Your Turkey
01:27 - Setting up Your BBQ
04:27 - Using a Temperature Probe & Target Cooking Temperature
04:45 - Getting the Turkey on the BBQ
05:19 - First Turkey Check
06:07 - Second Check & Keeping the Turkey Indirect
06:39 - Final Turkey Check
07:06 - Pulling the Turkey off the BBQ
07:28 - Resting the Turkey
07:43 - Carving the Turkey
The Importance of Indirect Cooking
Cooking indirect on your BBQ is essentially the process of turning it into an oven.
Traditional BBQing uses charcoal as a direct heat source - grilling food directly over your lit charcoal.
Indirect cooking keeps the heat source and the food apart, and using a lid allows for the circulation of hot air throughout the BBQ - convection cooking, just like a home oven.
Indirect cooking allows you to cook through large joints like a turkey evenly, and without charring or burning. Cooking poultry evenly is critical because you need every part of the meat to hit the safe eating temperature of 74°C.
Cooking to Temperature, not Time
Before I started cooking outside, no-one had ever explained to me the importance of cooking to temperature. We're used to switching on an oven, and following the timing we find on the packet or online. Cooking to temperature is now the only way I cook!
We've all eaten dry turkey and I think in the UK, we default to thinking that's just the way it is - but the truth is, properly turkey cooked is super juicy and so delicious!
Poultry can be eaten once it hits an internal temperature of 74°C, by which point all bacteria have died.
For a really juicy turkey, you should pull it from your BBQ when the deepest part of the breast is between 68-70°C and allow it to rest. During resting the temperature will continue to rise (we'll leave the thermodynamics for another day) and will reliably hit 74°C with a long enough rest.
It took me a little while to trust this process, and on this video I pull at the slightly higher end of the scale because I know not everyone will have faith in the process straight away - but when I'm cooking for myself I pull poultry at 68°C.
If you have any doubts, just leave your temperature probe in during the rest and watch the degrees tick up.
Pulling your turkey off even a few degrees higher can have a pretty dramatic effect on it drying out, and pulling your turkey off at 74°C is just asking for dry turkey - as it will likely hit 78-80°C by the time you carve.
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The Importance of Using Quality Charcoal
When using the snake method as per this video, it's really important to use the highest quality charcoal.
Lumpwood charcoal has lots of uneven surfaces, so when you arrange it in a snake, it doesn't have that many contact points. So as the fire progresses round the snake, it would be easy for the fire to die out unless the fuel is high quality and super easy to light.
British charcoal is class-leading in its ease of lighting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the carbon content of British charcoal is much higher than that of factory produced charcoal, due to both the process of making it and the small batch nature in which we produce it. Secondly, as British hardwood trees are fast growing, our charcoal doesn't have the density of charcoal produced from Amazonian or African hardwoods, which also ensures easy and consistent lighting.
In any scenario where you're allowing unlit charcoal to light during cooking, it's also critically important to know that your charcoal contains no chemical binders or surface treatments. Many imported charcoals contain accelerants to help with lighting, and this sort of product shouldn't be used with the method of cooking in my video.
Sustainable British Charcoal & Smoking Wood Chunks
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