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Mesquite Grilled Turkey


Tired of the same old oven roasted turkey? Try this scrumptiously grilled, moist and tender Mesquite Grilled Turkey! Serve with the warm Red Chili Adobo Sauce and the Jicama-Cranberry Relish.

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  • 1 (12 to 14 pound) fresh whole turkey
  • 2 gallons plus 1 cup water, divided
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch fresh marjoram sprigs or 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 10 to 12 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


Servings 8
Preparation time 20mins
Cooking time 820mins


Step 1

To brine the turkey, remove metal clamps on turkey legs. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity and reserve for another use. Rinse the bird well and pat dry with paper towels. Place 2 large food-safe plastic bags, one inside the other, in a large, deep dishpan or plastic bucket.

Add 1 gallon of water, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir to dissolve sugar and add another gallon of water. Place the turkey, breast side down, in the dishpan, making sure it is completely immersed in the brine. Squeeze the air out of the bags and close them securely. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to overnight.

To prepare the turkey for the grill, remove turkey and discard the brine. Pat thoroughly dry with paper towels and rub the turkey cavity with crushed garlic. Stuff the herbs and bay leaves in the cavity, then tie the legs together with cotton string. Pull the skin over the neck opening and secure with a small skewer. Set the turkey on a roasting rack set inside a heavy-gauge aluminum pan. Brush the turkey lightly with the olive oil.

Soak 2 cups of mesquite chips in water for 30 minutes. Preheat a gas grill to medium-high, or light a fire in a charcoal grill and let it burn just until the coals are covered with gray ash and very hot. Reduce heat in gas grill to medium-low, or bank the coals to the sides of the charcoal grill before adding wood chips (for a gas grill, place the chips in a smoker box or wrap them in foil and poke holes in the foil).

For a charcoal grill, set the grill grate in place and set the turkey in the pan on the grill grate away from the fire. Pour the remaining 1 cup water into the pan, and cover the grill. To maintain an even temperature with a charcoal grill, add more coals regularly (usually a few pieces every 30 minutes or so). Continually add wood chips to maintain smokiness.

Check the turkey periodically. If desired, cover with foil to prevent the skin from getting too brown. Estimate 12 to 14 minutes per pound, or 2½ to 3 hours for a 12 to 14 pound turkey. The turkey is done if, when a thigh joint is pierced, the juices run clear, or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 160˚F. When ready, remove turkey from grill, cover loosely with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. (The temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees while the turkey is resting.)

Carve the turkey and arrange on a warmed platter. Serve with the warm Red Chili Adobo Sauce and the Jicama-Cranberry Relish.

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