UP IN SMOKE
November 16th, 2012
It was and still is weird to sit down to turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie when the sun blazes and the temperature is 85°.
This has been a very weird autumn for many of us: weird politics, weird economy, and especially weird weather. So before I tell you how to grill a turkey Miami-style, I’d like to take a moment to think about some of the things we have to be thankful for:
Please consider joining us in making a contribution to the Red Cross for victims of Hurricane Sandy?
And now back to that turkey. We season it with a garlic- and cumin-scented Spanish-Caribbean marinade called adobo. The marinade goes under the skin 24 hours ahead, which helps keep the bird—even the breast meat—supernaturally flavorful and moist.
Note: this recipe is fairly quick and easy, but you need to start it the day before, so plan your time accordingly.
For the marinade:
5 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus salt for seasoning
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus pepper for seasoning
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 10 to 12 pound turkey, thawed if previously frozen
4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
3 cups hickory or other hardwood chips, soaked in water to cover for 30 minutes, then drained.
The day before, prepare the marinade. Place the garlic, cilantro, salt, cumin, oregano, and pepper in a food processor and finely chop. Work in the lime juice, orange juice, and olive oil and puree until smooth. If using a blender, add all the ingredients and blend until smooth.
Remove the giblets and any lumps of fat from the front and main cavities of the turkey. Season the inside with salt and pepper. Loosen the turkey skin from the meat. Start by worming your finger into the neck cavity between the skin and the breast meat. Insert one finger, then two, then three, then your whole hand, gently loosening the skin from the meat to create an air pocket. (Work gently: you don’t want to tear the skin.) While you’re at it, slide your hand down to loosen the skin from the thighs and drumsticks. The process will feel very weird at first, but it becomes old hat with a little practice. It’s worth mastering, because you can also use it to marinate chickens, ducks, and game hens.
Add 1/4 cup of the marinade to the main cavity and 1 tablespoon to the front cavity. Stand the turkey upright in a deep bowl and pour most of the remaining adobo under the skin. Work over a roasting pan to catch any runoff from the marinade. Transfer the turkey to a large plastic bag with any excess marinade, including the stuff that gathers in the bowl. Place the bag in a bowl and marinate the turkey overnight in the refrigerator, turning it several times to marinate evenly.
Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium.
Remove the turkey from the bag and drain off the marinade. Place the bird, breast side up, on the grate over the drip pan. Drizzle a little melted butter (about 1 tablespoon) over the breast and spread it over the skin with your fingers. Toss 1-1/2 cups wood chips on the coals of your charcoal grill or in the smoker box of your gas grill.
Roast the bird until cooked, 2-1/2 to 3 hours, replenishing the wood and charcoal after 1 hour. Use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness—the turkey is ready when the thigh meat is 180°. Continue basting the outside of the turkey with the remaining butter and any juices that accumulated in the roasting pan every 30 minutes or so. If the skin starts to brown too much, tent the bird with foil.
To serve, transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Be safe and healthy.
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