Massachusetts-based home cook Eric Silvers, a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, employs an innovative method for cooking his family’s Thanksgiving turkey each year: The bird is set atop a rack inside a disposable aluminum pan, which is nestled directly into the coals of a grill, and charred at a very high temperature. The result is a crisp-skinned, juicy, smoke-kissed turkey that’s finished in just a fraction of the time it would take to roast it. When grilling in a cold, windy climate, line the sides of the grill with grill bricks, leaving the air vent at the bottom open. The bricks, which can be purchased at your local hardware store, will absorb the warmth from the charcoal, maintaining a steady high heat. This recipe first appeared in the tablet edition of our November 2014 issue with the story “Houston, We Have Turkey”.
What You Will Need
- 3⁄4 cup olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup herbes de Provence
- 2 1⁄2 tbsp. piment d’Espelette
- 6 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 (15–18-lb.) turkey, room temperature
- 1 disposable aluminum roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack
- 6 sprigs each parsley, rosemary, and thyme
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 semisweet apple, such as Fuji, halved
- Mix oil, herbs de Provence, piment d’Espelette, garlic, and salt in a bowl. Place turkey on rack in disposable pan; season with salt. Slide fingers under the skin of the breast to create a pocket. Spread three-quarters of the herb mixture over the breast meat. Spread remaining herb mixture over outside of turkey; stuff parsley, rosemary, thyme, lemon, and apple into turkey cavity.
- Prepare a charcoal grill for indirect grilling: Remove top grill grate and build a hot fire on the bottom grate. (Use enough charcoal so that it will reach to the top of the sides of the roasting pan.) Push coals to sides of grill, leaving the center open. (The temperature of the grill should register around 900°.) Place pan with turkey in center of coals and close lid; cook until skin is browned and crisp, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer turkey to a 350° oven; cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thigh reads 165°, 20–30 minutes more. Let rest 15 minutes before carving.