Deck Safety: How to Safely Grill a Turkey on Your Cedar Decking
When it comes to the Thanksgiving turkey, every family has its own way of ensuring a moist, tasty and well-cooked bird. Some families prefer to stick with the same oven-roasting technique that has worked for generations. Others like to branch out by trying out the latest turkey trend, such as deep-frying or even grilling it out back on the cedar deck.
Grilling a turkey comes with a number of advantages; for starters, it frees up the kitchen for preparing other tasty holiday treats, such as pies or savory side dishes. It’s also a technique that, when executed properly, can produce a moist, nicely browned bird with a faint smoked flavor. However, plopping an entire large bird into your grill also presents some logistical challenges. If you’re thinking about trying out this trend on your cedar decking this year, it’s important to take some precautions in order to protect your decking materials from damage.
Here’s a look at what you need to know about grilling a turkey:
Preparing Your Grill and Cedar Deck
Before the big day arrives, arrange your grill and accessories properly to protect your cedar decking from grease splatters and fire hazards – as well as to ensure you have a comfortable, enjoyable cooking space. For starters, the best place to grill is in an area that’s not enclosed, so make sure there are no patio covers, eaves or overhanging branches nearby. If you use your grill on your cedar deck, make sure it’s at least three feet away from anything, including railings and the side of your house.
It’s also important to place a grill pad underneath your grill to protect your decking materials from grease stains or embers. Finally, stash a working fire extinguisher nearby in the event of a fire – flames can quickly spread from your cedar decking to your home, so be prepared.
Finally, make your cooking area cozy by firing up a gas heat lamp and setting out some chairs on your cedar deck.
Preparing the Turkey
Always defrost a turkey in a refrigerator. If your turkey is frozen, it takes six hours for every pound of meat to defrost. So, if you have a 16-pound turkey, it will take four days to defrost. Once defrosted, rinse the turkey under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.
Two effective methods for seasoning a turkey before it goes on the grill include brining and curing. When you brine a turkey, you immerse it in salty water overnight in the refrigerator; the salt water helps flavor the bird and keep it moist. When you cure a turkey, you coat the bird in salt and other spices and leave it overnight. The salt will help the turkey release its natural juices so it’s moist when cooked. Whatever method you choose, remember to rinse the turkey well with cold water or it the meat will taste overly salty; pat the turkey dry before carrying it out to your cedar deck.
To season the turkey before placing it on the grill, you can rub dry seasonings on and under its skin. Alternatively, you can inject the turkey with a marinade, broth, melted butter, olive oil or your favorite sauce with a food-grade syringe. When injecting the turkey, place the syringe in any meaty part and in between the skin and meat of the bird. After you season the meat, truss it by tying butcher’s string around the wingtips and drumsticks to keep them from scorching on the grill.
Grilling the Turkey
If you are using a gas grill, simply preheat it until the inside temperature reaches 300-325 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are using charcoal, place a disposable metal loaf pan in the middle of the grill and place the briquettes around the pan so you can cook the turkey over indirect heat; wait until the briquettes have a layer of gray ash hot enough. If you are using a gas grill, only use the burners on the side opposite the turkey.
The schools of thought about rotating the bird as it cooks differ. Some individuals leave the bird alone on the grill and simply baste it as you would a turkey in the oven. Others swear by rotating or turning the bird over every 30 minutes. If you have a charcoal grill, you will need to add more briquettes around the center loaf pan every 45 minutes. A 16-pound turkey will take about two hours or so to fully cook.
Regardless of whether you choose to rotate the turkey, make sure the internal temperature is at least 165-170 degrees before removing it from the grill. Then let the turkey rest for about 20 minutes before you begin carving.
There is no reason to not enjoy your grill and cedar deck just because it’s chilly outside. Start a new family tradition and grill your turkey this holiday season.