Monthly Archives: November 2012

Leftover Turkey: What did you do with it?

Smoking a small turkey breast, I didn’t have a lot of turkey leftover. We ate a few sandwiches, then it was time to do something else with it. I turned mine into a casserole with the leftover gravy, peas and corn and added cheese, some herbs and rotini and bit more gravy. I wish you could have smelled it. I had some asiago cheese leftover from shrimp fajitas and put that in. The sharpness of the asiago combined with the smoked flavor from the turkey gave the kitchen a nice aroma. Tasted good too.

So, tell me what you did with your leftovers? Use the comment section below to share.


Grill Smoked Turkey Breast

Thanksgiving Dinner

Success!! If you saw my previous post titled Watch this Space, then you know I was planning to put our Thanksgiving turkey breast on the grill. I was not just successful, I was very successful. Best smoked turkey I have ever eaten!

I started this the night before, putting a 4.85 pound whole turkey breast in a brine.  A whole turkey breast is the bird without the legs, wings and thighs attached.  It still has a cavity.  Basically, a headless, legless, wingless bird.  It can be bought frozen or fresh, with or without giblets, neck, heart and liver.  I bought a fresh breast and purchased a couple of legs and livers, giblets and a heart for my stuffing (stuffing is what I eat, not filling or dressing).  For the brine recipe, see Beer Can Turkey.  I added ice to the brine after it had cooled slightly to bring the temp down quicker.  By the time I had gotten to the brine, I had already baked three pies, had the stuffing ready to go and made cranberry sauce.  I wasn’t in the mood to wait for the brine to cool so I could add the turkey.  I don’t know why I didn’t add ice before.  More water is added later anyway.

I cleaned out the grill the night before Thanksgiving (almost sounds like a Clement C. Moore poem).  Maximum airflow is a must.  I dumped a huge pile of coals on one side of the grill with a smaller pile next to it.  I also had a small stash of oak pieces available.  I did not have the wood soaking in water.  I just threw those right on the coals at the beginning and as needed later on in the cooking process.  When all of the coals in the big pile were nearly gray, I moved the smaller pile over to get those going.  Then I moved those on top of the big pile right before I put the turkey on.  I had plenty of heat for most of the cooking time doing this. 






 As you see in the lower left hand corner of the second picture, there is a foil pan.  I filled this with orange juice and water for my steaming liquid.  It caught the drippings from the turkey as well as the juices from the citrus fruits I added to the cavity of the turkey.  I stuffed the cavity with a quartered lemon, lime, half a small orange, 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and a one inch piece of ginger, quartered.

Ginger, oranges, lemons, limes and garlic to be stuffed into the turkey breast.

Aromatics stuffed through neck of breast after it was placed on the rack on the grill.









Once everything was ready, the foil pan was filled, the rack placed on the grill and the turkey breast placed on the rack with one of the legs to support it (a turkey torso will not stay upright on its own.  It needs support-the leg worked well).  Then the lemons, etc. were stuffed in through the neck and a probe thermometer was inserted through the lower part of one side of the breast (if you do this, make sure it is not touching a bone and the end is still in the meat).  I added a couple of pieces of wood and closed the lid.

Ready to smoke!

Target temperature for poultry is a minimum of 165 degrees F. 170 is a better temp to shoot for.  It took about 3 hours and 40 minutes to achieve 168 degrees F on Thanksgiving Day where I am.  Outside temperature was in the upper 40’s to the low 50’s the entire time I was smoking the turkey.  It may have gone quicker with higher outdoor temps.  I added more wood twice and 8 briquets once.  The first time I added wood and briquets, I also covered the breast with heavy-duty foil to prevent further browning.  See below to understand what I mean.  If you have never had or seen smoked poultry, you might be surprised at the appearance.  But don’t be put off, wait until you see how it looks underneath!

Right off the grill.


Turkey leg.


Let the turkey rest 15-20 minutes before carving.  Resting allows the juices to be reabsorbed back into the bird.  Carving too soon results in crumbly, mushy slices. 


The only thing I will do differently next time:  I will take the legs off much sooner.  The smaller one was quite crispy!  The turkey breast was perfection!  Excellent smoked flavor, very juicy.  Definitely will do this again.  It helped make my Thanksgiving Dinner plate look like a work of art!

Thanksgiving Dinner

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Pumpkin Pie Tip

Getting an unbaked pumpkin pie into the oven can be quite tricky.  But, it doesn’t have to be!  I don’t have any spectacular pumpkin pie recipe to share with you, just this tip.  I use the recipe off of the can of Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie blend) and never vary the recipe.  It’s too good of a recipe to alter.  I really enjoy a simple custardy pumpkin pie, no bells and whistles.  I even eat pumpkin pie for breakfast.  It’s healthy enough. 

Here’s how I get my pies in the oven without making a big mess.  Mix up the custard and place the empty pie shells on the pulled out rack in the oven.  

Then pour the custard into the pie shells.  Since I make two pies at once, I measure out one cup at a time until I can pour the custard directly into the shell.  No mess on the kitchen floor and no mess on the oven door or oven floor. 

Carefully push the rack back into the oven and bake as directed. 

Enjoy!  And until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Watch this space!

I will be using this new grill tool tomorrow. It is a grill roasting rack.  I have a 4.85 pound turkey breast and a couple of turkey legs to go on the grill. Wish me luck-I will let you know how it goes!

Seafood Boil

This was the most fun I’ve ever had cooking seafood!  Maybe because it was the first time the main course was the freshest I’ve ever had it outside of eating at the shore…

Soon to be dinner…

I had to borrow a pot and propane tank for this one.  I wasn’t even going to attempt to keep water at a steady boil on my grill!  I wanted to eat sooner than later.  This was not at all a difficult meal to put together.  The hardest part was cracking the lobster and peeling the shrimp. 

If I were to be shipwrecked or somehow end up on a deserted island somewhere, I will never get bored eating seafood.  I don’t order surf ‘n turf cuz I’d only eat the surf part.  In fact, it’s rather ironic that I have this blog considering how little meat I actually eat.  I’m hardly a vegetarian, but meat is only on my plate once or twice a week at the most.  Even less some weeks when my husband travels.  So, this post is served up just right for me.

One of our local grocery stores had a lobster sale-$6.99 per pound for live lobsters.  How could I pass that up?  I did not get enough fresh seafood while we traveled in the South over the summer, therefore I had to satisfy my craving.  Shrimp and lobster did the trick. 

My friend’s turkey fryer served as the cooking vessel and a propane tank turned up high kept the water boiling.

It was raining on my boil!

To 3 gallons of water, I added 4 smashed cloves of garlic and 2 ounces of liquid shrimp and crab boil.  If I do this again, I will add another ounce of  the boil.  I could have used a bit more spice.  I wasn’t planning on using the liquid boil.  Since most other shoppers in the store were doing the same thing (picking up live lobsters), there was a run on the powder.  In the future, I will stick with the liquid boil.  It was easy to use and blended right in with the water.  Nothing to dissolve. 

While the water was coming to a boil, I cleaned 4 ears of corn and 2 pounds of red new potatoes, similar in size.  I also had 1 pound of jumbo shrimp and 1 pound of andouille sausage cut into 1 inch chunks.  The potatoes go in as soon as the water comes to a boil as they will need more time than everything else, followed by the sausage after a couple of minutes.  Each stalk of corn was broken in half (or thirds if large enough) and put in 10 minutes after the potatoes.  The lobsters were about 1 pound each; total cooking time for those guys was around 15 minutes, so they went in 15 minutes after the potatoes.  Shrimp needs less than 5 minutes-when you hit the 20 minute mark, they go in.  The water must be boiling the whole time.  I never lowered the flame under the pot.  I kept it high to keep that boil on and I covered the pot with the lid as well since it was a bit rainy.  Check the doneness of a potato or two at the 20 minute mark.  If those are done, make sure the lobster are done too (they will be red and the antennae should pull out easily), then it’s time to eat! 

Lobster No. 1 going for a swim

Lobster No. 2 joining in the fun


Dinner is ready!

 Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Beer Can Turkey

OK-this isn’t really a “Beer” turkey. But, the holder is the kind we used to see commercials for several years ago for “Beer Can Chicken.” I got mine for 5 bucks at Wally World a few years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever used beer. I’m not against it, I just don’t use it very often when I am cooking. On average, I use the holder once or twice a year. Cooking a whole bird is not high on my list, but it is worth the work when I do.

My favorite celebrity chef, Alton Brown, had an episode in Season 2 of Good Eats titled, “Romancing the Bird.”  Alton put the turkey in a brine overnight.  I have never failed to do the same to my turkeys ever since.  The turkey absorbs all of the flavors and becomes the juiciest bird that will bring delight to your mouth. 

Number one priority for this recipe is to purchase a SMALL bird.  Unless you have a firebox separate from the main cooking chamber or are using a gas grill, you will not get a large turkey fully cooked.  Every time the lid is removed from the grill, heat is lost and it is crucial to maintain a constant temperature.  If you have the capability to control the fire without having to open the main cooking chamber, go for the bigger bird (and good luck).  I found an 8.5 pound turkey and I did have to finish off the dark meat inside.  It just got to be too hard to maintain the temperature after a couple of hours. 

First thing to do is prepare the brine.  It will need some cooling and fridge time before the turkey is added.  For the brine:  Water-4 quarts plus more; 1 cup cider vinegar; 1-2 tbsp ground sage; 1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger; 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper; up to 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder; 3 tbsp onion powder; 1 1/2 tbsp allspice; 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar; 1/2 cup coarse salt.  All ingredients go into the biggest stockpot you have (or if you are doing a big bird (not the big yellow guy from Sesame Street!), a pot big enough for all of the above) and heated to dissolve the salt and brown sugar.  The salt and sugar must be dissolved completely.  What you are doing is creating a solution that will eventually even out the moisture balance inside and outside the bird via osmosis.  The moisture becomes trapped in the protein cells of the turkey and will leave the meat nice and moist even after 2 or 3 hours on the grill (or in the oven).  No one really wants to chew a moisture sucking piece of meat, now do they?  Cool the brine to room temperature then refrigerate until ready for it.   


While the brine cools its heels, get the thawed turkey ready.  Make sure you remove the giblets and neck.  Check the body cavity and the neck cavity (boil them up with some simple seasonings and use in a gravy or stuffing ala Betty Crocker recipe-or cook them up for your dog or your neighbor’s dog).  Rinse and pat dry the turkey.  The bird will go right into the stock pot with the brine and add enough ice water to cover completely.  If the stock pot isn’t big enough, use a cooler.  Place the turkey and the brine right into the cooler along with ice water to cover the turkey.  Cover/seal the stock pot/cooler.  The goal is to soak that bird for about 12 hours.     


Ready to start your fire?  Give yourself plenty of time to get things started.  You are going to have a big pile of charcoal for this and I kept a smaller grill nearby with coals started to add as needed during the cooking time. 

Now is the time to end the spa soaking of the turkey.  Choose your 12 ounce canned beverage of choice.  I generally use ginger ale or lemon-lime soda, but I had neither and used a Coke Zero.  Whatever you choose, even if it’s beer, should go well with the turkey.  The brine is sweet, savory and a sweetened beverage or hoppy or malty beer will work just fine.  Pour out half of the beverage (drink it, pour it down the sink, whatever!).  Place the can in the holder and add a couple of smashed cloves of garlic-no need to peel them.  Put the whole thing in a disposable pie plate or round cake pan.  Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse inside and out and pat dry.  Place over the can and rub with oil and more ground sage.  Pin the wings with sturdy toothpicksto prevent them from becoming cinders.

Finally, add a small onion or potato to the neck cavity.  This will keep the steam inside the bird.  Discard the onion (or potato) at the end of cooking.

Your fire should be ready, so spread the coals evenly around the rim of the grill.  Add more coals and the turkey right in the middle of everything.

Put the lid on and insert a thermometer in the vent opening.  Try to maintain a temperature of 325 degrees F.  Add coals from started stock as needed.  I added coals about every half hour to 45 minutes to maintain the temperature. 

For an  8.5 pound turkey, expect  3 1/2 to 4 hours on the grill.  I had a difficult time maintaining a 325 degree temp and if I had, the bird would have been cooked all the way in that amount of time.  As it was, I took it off after 3 hours since my temp was steadily below  275 and I finished it in the oven.   Despite that, the turkey had a perfectly smoked flavor and was super moist.   Good luck on this one-for me, this was one of the hardest things this girl has ever cooked on the grill.

Enjoy and until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!