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June 20, 2007 / Tony

Barbeque Turkey with Maple Mustard Glaze

This is a favorite recipe of mine to prepare when I am hosting large parties.  The turkey comes out moist, smoky, and citrusy with hints of anise and ginger.  The glaze offers a classic Asian flavor combination of hot and sweet.  Everyone raves about it when I serve it.  Here’s the link to the recipe:

The first step in making the turkey is preparing the brine.  When I first made this recipe, I followed the recipe as written and found that it is no fun waiting for 6 qts. of water to cool completely.  So, in subsequent attempts, I only brought 3 qts. of water to a simmer with the rest of the brine ingredients (the sugars will dissolve in this reduced amount of liquid) and then add the remaining water in the form of ice.  I calculate a qt. of water to weigh 1 ¼ pounds.  Thus, to finish the brine, I add 3 ¾ pounds of ice to the brine and let the ice take the heated liquid to a safe temperature.  (You know, out of the “zone” of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.)  Now you can add the turkey to the brine without waiting for that brine to cool. 

Actually brining the turkey is somewhat of a tricky proposition.  A turkey is probably the biggest piece of meat (or any food I guess) that a home cook will deal with in the course of a lifetime.  Hence, there is probably not a lot, if any, of containers that will, well, contain a turkey and the brine.  I know I don’t have one.  Instead, use a clean 5 gallon bucket.  It is a perfect container for this recipe.  Its diameter is narrow enough that the turkey causes enough liquid displacement so the turkey is completely submerged in the brine.  This is great because you will get nice even brining without the need to turn it over.  If your turkey floats a little about the liquid, you can weigh down the turkey with a weighted plate or something like that to ensure that every part of the turkey is submerged.

Brining, of course, is a great way of adding flavor and moisture to food.  It works wonders with poultry and pork.  Brining works by osmosis.  The cells in the meat you are preparing are still “alive” in the sense that they still carry on their cell processes.  One of those processes is the tendency of a cell to try to equalize the salinity of the inside of the cell with the salinity of whatever that cell is surrounded by.  Thus, when you put a piece of meat into a salty solution (the brine), the cells in that meat will start to soak up the salty liquid to try to bring itself into equilibrium with its surroundings.  Of course, while the cell is letting the salt in, it is also letting in the rest of the solution and the flavors and moisture contained therein.  In the end (that is, after cooking), you should have a juicier and more flavorful piece of meat than if you didn’t brine. 

After brining, stuff the turkey and then onto the grill for smoking.  My smoking method is to light about 2/5 of a charcoal chimney worth of fuel, divide between the two sides of the grill (using some metal dividers), put the meat in the middle (where obviously there are no coals directly underneath), and put foil packets of soaked wood chips on the coals.  Put the cover on the grill and let it cook low and slow. 

The glaze is simple and adds some flavor and color to the skin of the turkey.  I found, though, that the glaze is a little thin as the recipe is written.  I use more heat and let it reduce till it is a glaze like consistency.  After that, it’s a good idea to reserve about half of it to use as a dipping sauce.  It tastes really good on the finished product. 

The rest of the directions are pretty darn good.  I know this is a recipe that will take some work and some planning but your guests will love this turkey.  I wish I could tell you some good uses for the leftovers but there are never any.  Enjoy!


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