Thursday, November 24, 2022

Professional Left Podcast #677

Fuck the Fucking Yankees!”  -- Steve Gilliard
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Plus, today only, for our fellow veterans of Thee Olde Days, the late Steve Gilliard's very own receipt for Beer-Can Turkey.

Enjoy, bon appetit and Fuck the Fucking Yankees!

There are a hundred debates about what makes a great Turkey, brining, frying, injecting. 
Well, this is the place to debate the great turkey issues of the day. 

Last  year, I prepared a Classic Roast Turkey. This year I wanted to provide  another variation on turkey and had decided on smoking the turkey. When I  received my September 2005 issue of Cook's Country Magazine and found  an article featuring Beer-Can Chicken, I decided to modify that recipe  to work for a turkey.

The use of a beer can inserted into a  chicken is an old barbeque trick to provide flavored steam to the inside  of the chicken as it cooks. At the same time, the beer supposedly adds  flavor to the chicken. Problem is, I don't quite buy it. If the beer is  giving off steam, then most of that steam is just going to be water...  most of the beer flavor will just be concentrating in the can. However,  it seems that it would be sacrilegious if I used the beer can but left  out the beer.

The first step is to brine the turkey. Find a  non-reactive (polycarbonate plastic, glass, or stainless steel)  container large enough to hold the turkey. Prepare a brining solution of  1 cup table salt to 1 gallon water and soak the turkey in the solution  in the refrigerator for four to six hours. (If your turkey has been  infused with a solution, then reduce the salt content in your brine or  just soak it in a container filled with plain water.)

Pour  out the brining solution and rinse the turkey. One convenient way to do  this is to position a rack in the sink and place the turkey on the rack  to rinse. After the turkey has been rinsed, let it dry by placing it on a  rack on a sheet pan in the refrigerator overnight (or for eight hours).  Alternatively, use a blow drier on cool setting (no heat) to blow over  the skin of the turkey until dry.

In order to prepare beer  can turkey, a beer can is necessary. However, a normal 12-oz. beer can,  perfect for a chicken, is a bit too small for the large cavity of a  turkey. At my local convenience store, I found this 24 oz. micro-keg  shaped can of Heineken. It looked to be about the right size, so I  bought it.

After pouring the beer into another container (a  large measuring cup), remove the top of the can. I used an OXO Good  Grips can opener to cleanly remove the top (it took only one pass).  Removing the top provides enough surface area from which the steam can  rise. The small opening made by the pop top just isn't enough of an  opening to effectively provide moisture to the turkey.

Deposit  six bay leaves (broken up) and two teaspoons dried thyme into the can.  Unlike the beer, the herbs will provide noticeable flavor and aroma  while the steam helps keep the turkey moist during it's long cooking  process.

Soak a cup of hickory wood chips in some water.

Prepare  a spice rub by combining two tablespoons brown sugar, two tablespoons  paprika, one tablespoon kosher salt, one tablespoon black pepper, and  one teaspoon cayenne pepper. Mix the spice rub well.

Rub the  spice rub over the entire exterior of the turkey. Loosen the skin over  the breasts and thighs and rub the spices under the skin. Finally, rub  the remaining spice rub inside the cavity of the turkey.

Pour  half the beer back into the open beer can (reserving half for your  drinking pleasure). Not pouring all the beer back reduces the risk of  spilling as you transport the turkey to and from the grill. Lift the  turkey up and lower it onto the beer can.

Place the turkey on  the grill. If using a gas grill, position the turkey over one burner,  away from the other burners. Turn the burner under the turkey off and  turn the other burners on low. If using a charcoal grill, start the  charcoals (you'll need a couple batches of about 100 briquettes each  over the course of the smoking). When they're ready, push them to the  outer edges of the grill leaving the center available for the turkey.  Make a container with aluminum foil (or use a metal wood chip tray) and  fill it with the wood chips that were soaking in water. Place the  container over the other burner or on the hot coals. My grill was not  large enough to cover the turkey without the lid touching it, so I  placed a V rack in the middle to prop up the lid. I also inserted a  Polder Cooking Thermometer into a thigh to track the temperature of the  turkey.

Close the lid of the grill. If the turkey is too tall  for your grill lid, find a way to prop open the lid just enough (so the  lid is mostly closed, but not touching the bird). Then use heavy duty  aluminum foil to cover the gap that's left. The aluminum foil lets out a  lot of heat, but will help keep the smoke in long enough to flavor the  turkey.

The actual cooking of the turkey is a bit finicky and  has a lot to do with your grill and how much cooling air is getting  into the grill from the slightly open lid. If you didn't need to prop  open the lid of your gas grill, keep the burners on low. However, if you  did need to prop open the lid, you might need to turn up the heat to  compensate for the heat loss? Don't turn on the burner underneath the  turkey - we want to cook it with indirect heat. If using charcoal, after  the first one and a half to two hours, you'll need to start a new batch  of charcoal and replace the original coals as they lose heat.

Halfway through the cooking, about two hours, rotate the turkey to allow even cooking.

When  the thigh meat reaches 160°F (71°C) (about 4-1/2 hours in my example),  prepare a simple glaze with two tablespoons brown sugar, two tablespoons  ketchup, two tablespoons distilled white vinegar, two tablespoons beer,  and two teaspoons of hot sauce (I prefer Frank's RedHot Original Hot  Sauce). Brush the glaze onto the turkey and cover. After five minutes,  brush on another layer of glaze and allow it to cook until the thigh  meat registers 170°F (77°C). If you don't have a thermometer, at least  poke the turkey with a skewer to see if the juices run clear. If the  fluid that comes out contains traces of blood, continue to cook the  turkey


CambridgeChuck said...

Um, you just shared a remarkable description of a process that I would have never attempted witgout your post printed out and taped to the refrigerator, the patio door, and my last will and testament.

I've made beer can chicken and it came out pretty good. This sounds even better. I appreciate your generosity in sharing such detail, just as I appreciate your blogging and your podcast and your viewpoint.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Green Eagle said...

"There are a hundred debates about what makes a great Turkey"

That's because, and let's face the ugly truth here, there is no such thing as a great turkey, only a minimally edible one. The great New York Times food critic Calvin Trillin was so right when he said, decades ago, that turkey should be replaced as the official Thanksgiving meal with Fettuccini Carbonara.

dinthebeast said...

I'm one of those rare folks who both cooks well (did it for my living for a decade) and really likes turkey. I blame it on my dad, who really loved to hunt geese and was an excellent shot, meaning that most holidays when I was a kid, we ate one of the blasted things. Now, my mother did learn to cook them so that they were at least edible, but when we had a turkey instead (or in addition to, my brother and I could eat as much as they cooked) I always liked it better.
This year we had a lasagna, and it was glorious.
There is a certain validation of one's identity that you can only get by making something and having it there as the indisputable artifact of your worth. You ever wonder where the condescension emanating from rednecks comes from, that's a big part of it. I learned machining, welding, and metal fabrication in high school (I'm hella old) so I got a big dose of that early on, and it does help me to understand certain things about certain people...
Thank you for the Thanksgiving podcast, and I hope it went well for you.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

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