This recipe has been designed for a natural turkey. A kosher bird or a bird that has been injected with a salty broth solution, such as a Butterball, can be used, but you should skip rubbing the salt under the skin or in the cavity. Do rub the salt, pepper, and baking powder mixture over the skin as directed in the recipe. If you’ve already made gravy, you can discard the neck, giblets, and tailpiece found in the cavity of the bird; however, if you haven’t yet made gravy, save these parts.
* * The coarse crystals of kosher salt make it much easier to work with than table salt, which should not be used in this recipe.
- 1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey *
- kosher salt * *
- ground black pepper
- 1 Teaspoon baking powder
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
Trim any excess fat from 1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey. Remove neck, giblets, and tailpiece; reserve if making gravy. Place turkey breast-side down on work surface. Make two 2-inch incisions below each thigh and breast along back of turkey (4 incisions in total). Using fingers or handle of wooden spoon, carefully separate skin from thighs and breast.
Rub 4 teaspoons kosher salt evenly inside cavity of turkey, 1 tablespoon kosher salt under skin of each breast, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt under skin of each leg. Combine 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon baking powder in small bowl. Pat turkey dry with paper towels and evenly sprinkle baking powder mixture all over. Rub in mixture with hands, coating entire surface evenly. Wrap turkey tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate on rimmed baking sheet for 24 to 48 hours.
Prepare Turkey and Set Up Grill
Remove turkey from refrigerator and discard plastic. Tuck wings underneath turkey. Using hands, rub 1 tablespoon vegetable oil evenly over entire surface. Open bottom vent halfway and place large disposable aluminum roasting pan filled with 3 cups water in center of grill. Arrange 1 1/2 quarts unlit charcoal briquettes on either side of pan in even layer. Light large chimney starter two-thirds filled with charcoal briquettes (4 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour 2 quarts of lit coals on top of each pile of unlit coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
Clean and oil cooking grate. Place 2 disposable aluminum pie plates with 2 cups water in each directly on one burner over which turkey will be cooked. Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner (burner opposite pie plates) to medium and turn off other burner(s). Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature of 325 degrees. Clean and oil cooking grate.
Place turkey, breast-side up, in center of charcoal grill or on cooler side of gas grill, making sure bird is over disposable pans and not over flame. Cover grill, placing vents over turkey on charcoal grill. After 1 ¼ hours, rotate turkey if using gas grill. If wings are getting dark, fold 12 by 8-inch piece of foil in half lengthwise and then again crosswise and slide foil between wing and cooking grate to shield wing from flame. Continue cooking until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs/drumsticks register 175 degrees, another 1 ¼ to 1 3/4 hours. Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes