From Gail’s Kitchen

Cooking a whole turkey is usually reserved for celebratory times when oven space is at a premium. Roasting the turkey on the grill frees up your oven for other culinary creations. My inspiration for creating a grilling recipe for whole stuffed turkey came from a simpler recipe in Gathering Around the Grill: Inspirational Menus and Grilling Ideas for Family and Friends by Kitchener residents Andrea Witzel and Kris Schumacher (published by Onward Manufacturing Company Ltd., Waterloo, Ontario, 2009, www.gatheringaroundthegrill.com).

I was amazed at how juicy and delicious turkey can be when cooked this way. And the skin crisps up beautifully without burning. This recipe creates its own flavourful pan juices, so there’s no need to fiddle with making gravy while the turkey is resting. Enjoy the company of your guests instead!

Note: Outdoor temperature can influence cooking times when grilling, so plan for longer cooking times in colder weather. Also note that an unstuffed turkey will usually take less time to cook than a stuffed one.

Herbed butter
for rubbing under turkey skin (optional)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion, roughly chopped
5 medium carrots, halved
1 large parsnip, halved lengthwise and quartered
2 cups water, plus more as needed
1 cup chicken broth
1 12 to 14 pound turkey, giblets and excess fat removed
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe freshly made stuffing (see our recipe on page 23), optional

Preheat the gas grill on medium, with the centre burner turned off.

Make the herbed butter (optional): In a small bowl, mix together butter, parsley, thyme, sage, garlic, salt and pepper; set aside.

Prepare the turkey: In a large, heavy roasting pan large enough to hold the turkey, scatter onion, carrots and parsnip evenly over bottom. Place a roasting rack over the vegetables. Add water and chicken broth to pan.

If using the herbed butter, using your fingertips and starting at neck end of turkey, gently create a pocket underneath skin of each breast and partly into each leg, taking care not to break the skin. Using your fingers, divide butter evenly under skin, smoothing the outside of skin to spread butter around. Rub excess butter from your fingers onto outside of turkey. Sprinkle all sides of turkey evenly with salt and pepper. Make sure you are at this stage before stuffing the turkey if doing so (and always stuff your turkey at the very last minute prior to cooking). Stuff the neck and body cavities of the turkey, seal the neck cavity with excess skin, and tie the drumsticks together using kitchen twine. Place turkey breast-side up over rack in roasting pan.

Grill the turkey: Place the roasting pan with turkey in the centre of the grill. Cover grill and cook turkey until the juices run clear when the tip of a paring knife is inserted in the thickest part of the thigh and the legs move easily at the joint when wiggled, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, adding up to 2 cups of boiling water to the roasting pan during the cooking time if the liquid seems to be evaporating. (You want to have great pan juices at the end!) When done, the internal temperature of the turkey at the thickest part of the thigh (be sure not to touch the bone) and in the centre of the stuffing should register 165°F (the internal temperature of the turkey will continue to rise after removal from the grill).

Remove the roasting pan from the grill. Carefully transfer the turkey to a platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Allow the turkey to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving. Pour the pan juices into a large bowl. Allow the juices to rest for about 10 minutes, and then skim the fat from the surface. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve the turkey with the pan juices and vegetables.