Merry Christmas everyone! It is with a very full tummy that I type today’s entry…thanks to my beautiful bride Heather, we’ve chalked up yet another perfect Christmas feast. The catch this year is that we only prepared Christmas dinner for 4 adults, 1 teenager and 1 very feisty 16 month old! (For those who’ve known us for a while, we’ve been known to cater for over 30 hungry souls in years past…)
So here’s how it all went down. It was on Saturday morning that Heather pretty much gave me my Christmas present a bit early. She leaned over and whispered in my ear…”you can do the turkey on the egg this year…” Well, that was it…I jumped for joy and set out to combine Heather’s own recipe for festive poultry and my methods for smoking and finishing on the Big Green Egg. A few hours well spent produced a fantastic turkey, not to mention all the other trimmings that Heather is famous for.
Very early on the 24th we went to visit our peeps at the Butcher, Jack and Pete. You can tell by the look on Pete’s face, he was a tad busy while Jack maintained his ear to ear grin throughout our visit. I told him we’ll make him famous by posting his mug on the internet with this here blog entry. Anyway, the boys came through again. The 5.2 kg bird and all the fixins’ from the Butcher were all packed up and waiting for us though I did get a bit nervous when Pete disappeared for a good 10 minutes to find our order. When Heather and I came home it was time to prep our unfeathered friend. A quick wash, removal of the thermo-popper thingy and quick rinse of the insides, our birdie was ready to get dressed.
So Heather’s famous turkey recipe (which has never been shared publicly) starts with a cavity insertion…yup, sounds interesting don’t it? In the cleaned cavity insert 2 lemon halves, some sage, garlic, and one medium sized onion half. Then take 400 g of softened butter and add some chopped garlic, zest of one lemon, chopped sage, chopped rosemary, a small squeeze of lemon juice and blend to combine well. Then loosen the skin under the turkey’s breast and insert two big handfuls of the butter mixture on each side of the breast. Massage well and ensure an even distribution. Then take another handful of the butter mixture and smear the entire bird (externally).
At this point, take some streaky bacon (about 1.5 packs for a turkey this size) and criss-cross the strips across the breast side of the bird. No need to do the legs or wings. Melt what’s left of your butter mixture and baste the bacon and the rest of the bird (breast side up.) Place the turkey into the fridge over night so that the butter can set and all the flavours start to work their magic.
The next morning, pull the bird out an hour before you put it on the grill, covering the legs and wings with aluminium foil to protect them from burning. Let the turkey come up to room temperature. In the meanwhile, I fired up the BGE to 450 F with a full firebox of hard wood charcoal and two handfuls of Apple wood chips that had soaked for about an hour in water. We then tented the turkey in aluminium foil and placed her in a rack sitting in a drip pan that ultimately sat on the plate setter. Basically, you want indirect heat set at 350 F and some nice smoke going on for the fist 1.5 hours.
A quick peek at the 1.5 hour mark and I closed the lid for another hour. So at the 2.5 hour mark, we removed the bacon (which is then used with the brussel sprouts) and the tent along with the foil on the wings and legs and basted our bird about 3 or 4 times for the next 20 minutes. The colour turned from pale to golden in about 10 minutes. Watch yourself at this stage as things can start to burn. Once done, we removed the turkey and tented her again in foil and then covered her for another hour and a half in a warm towel. This step lets all the juice redistribute and the bird will continue to cook for wee while longer without drying the meat.
The turkey was served with Heather’s prawn salad starters, pork stuffing balls, bread pudding, cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, parsnip mash, carrots and roasted potatoes…all homemade from scratch! Under pain of death, I’m not allowed to reveal all of Heather’s Christmas feast recipes but let me tell you, there’s nothing better out there! Thanks darling!
So as we sat back late last night with one more nightcap bevy in hand, we both agreed, this year the bird was phenomenal and what a wonderful Christmas we had. Good times with good friends and family. We’re truly blessed and hope that all of you had an equally delicious Christmas feast!
Here’s wishing you all the best in the New Year, when it comes!
Roman, Heather, Alex and wee Kalyna