Few meals on the American calendar are as anticipated or as iconic as Thanksgiving dinner. That juicy, crisp-skinned turkey and all the Fall harvest accoutrements don’t just fall out of the sky, though. More than a little effort goes into the preparation and execution of a meal that families look forward to all year long. Depending on the size of the crowd coming to dine, the kitchen scene can turn maddening at the drop of a ladle. One method of easing the kitchen insanity is taking your Thanksgiving cooking to the backyard grill.
“Your backyard grill is, essentially, an outdoor oven with a versatility you simply can’t replicate in your kitchen,” says Stephen Schroeter, Senior Vice President of gourmet grill and fireplace manufacturer Napoleon, “You can add new flavors and bring a whole new experience to your traditional Thanksgiving dinner by cooking the entire meal on your barbecue.”
Stephen offered a few pointers for grilling up a complete Thanksgiving dinner in your backyard:
- The Main Course. Thanksgiving and turkey are near synonymous. Start by preparing your grill for indirect cooking, and placing a drip pan with water above the unlit burners, but below the cooking grate (if possible, try to leave a space between the cooking grates where you can fit a baster). As the barbecue warms up — aim for a steady temperature of 350°F — get your bird ready. Even though you are cooking it on your grill, proceed as if you were doing it in your oven. Stuff it with your preferred mixture, season the skin (Napoleon suggests rubbing the outside of the turkey with butter and then liberally seasoning it with coarse salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh thyme, sage and rosemary from your herb garden), truss the legs and, when the barbecue reaches the desired temperature, place it on the grill. Check and baste it every hour. Cook until it reaches the desired internal temperature — 165°F, or about 20 minutes of cooking time per pound. Let it rest after your remove it from the heat – but don’t turn your grill off yet.
- Be creative. If you want to bring new flavors to your turkey, fill a smoker tube with apple wood chips and place on one of the lit burners. The natural smoky flavor is something you simply can’t replicate in your oven. If you can’t access the drip tray with your baster, try making a basting liquid with melted butter and white wine.
- The Side Dish. Save the stress on your stove top by doing the potatoes on your barbecue. Wrap your chopped potatoes in tinfoil, with a liberal amount of butter or olive oil (or both!), fresh chopped chives and a minced clove or two of garlic. Place the foil packet on the top shelf and leave it for about an hour, maybe flipping it once. Once they are ready, you are free to serve as is or to mash them up with some butter, cream cheese and milk.
- The Vegetables. The barbecue brings a whole new flavor experience to seasonal harvest vegetables. Brushed with olive oil and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, the charred, smoky flavors are unlike anything you can do on your stove. Place them directly over low to medium heat, or use a grill top wok to cook up a medley of peppers, zucchini and carrots. Do you have a side burner? Use it to boil corn on the cob. Or grill the corn in its husks.
- The Gravy. The concoction of the turkey drippings (be careful when removing the drip tray from the grill, as it will be hot!) and the white wine-and-butter basting liquid is an excellent base for an incredible turkey gravy. Once the turkey is removed from the grill and is resting, turn on all the burners and place the drip tray on top. As it comes to a gentle boil, whisk together some flour and chicken stock until all the lumps are gone, then whisk that into the drippings. Keep stirring until it is smooth, skim off the fat and pour into your gravy boat.
About the Napoleon Group of Companies:
Napoleon was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 50 Best Managed Companies in 2014, an annual distinction sponsored by CIBC World Markets, Deloitte, The National Post, Queen’s School of Business and CEO Forum. For more information, please visit www.napoleonproducts.com. Follow Napoleon on Twitter @Follow_Napoleon and Like it Facebook.
Napoleon® is North America’s largest privately owned manufacturer of quality wood and gas fireplaces (inserts and stoves), gourmet gas and charcoal grills, outdoor living products and a complete line of Heating & Cooling equipment. Napoleon has been named one of Canada’s Top 50 Best Managed Companies, an annual distinction sponsored by CIBC World Markets, Deloitte, The National Post, Queen’s School of Business and CEO Forum.
Image courtesy of Napoleon.