Grilling My Free Turkey From Winn Dixie

I walked in my local Winn-Dixie and saw a great offer: Now through 11/21/18 you get a free Thanksgiving turkey when you get a no cost flu shot. As I had been planning to get a vaccine anyway, I headed over to the pharmacist and got a jab and my coupon. Because my health insurance covers annual flu vaccines, I walked out with a 10lb bird for absolutely no cost.

I decided to cook it on the grill. The only way I was going to fit the bird on my Weber was if I spatchcocked it first. A bonus for cutting out the backbone and pressing it flat it it cut down the cooking time. By putting the legs closest to the coals, it also makes sure the white meat and dark meat reach 165 degrees F at the close to the same time.

I cut the backbone and wings off and added them and the neck to a pot with 3 quarts of water, a quartered onion, 3 stalks of celery and 2 carrots, broken in half. After about two hours of simmering, I strained out the solids and had around two quarts stock, perfect for making gravy.

I took a picture at an hour and then forgot to take another. Trust me, it looked prettier in person when done and tasted marvelous – juicy and flavorful.

Grilled Spatchcocked Turkey

1 10-12lb turkey
1 stick butter, softened
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 teaspoon coarse salt
salt and pepper to taste

To spatchcock the turkey, use poultry shears to cut out the backbone. Flip the bird over and press down to snap the breastbone. Set aside the backbone and neck (and I also cut off the wings, as they tend to get dry and burn) to make a stock.

Mix half the herbs with the softened butter. Divide butter mixture in half. Gently lift the skin up and work half the butter over each breast. Massage it around for good coverage. Sprinkle both sides of the turkey with remaining herb mixture. Place the bird in the refrigerator, breast side down overnight to dry out the skin.

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator about an hour before ready to grill. Coat with olive oil.

Build an indirect fire and place a wood chunk on the coals to smoke. Place a drip pan on the cool side and replace the grill. Set the turkey on the grill, bone side down and with legs closest to the coals. Grill for 60-90 minutes depending on the weight of the bird. Safe temperature is 165 degrees F. If you check it and find any parts getting too brown, cover those areas with aluminum foil.

Once turkey has been grilled to golden perfection, remove to a carving board and tent with foil. Let rest at least 15 minutes and as long as thirty while you make the gravy.

You need two cups of liquid for the gravy. I usually pour about 1/2 cup of stock in the pan with the drippings and use that to help loosen all the brown bits. I pour it in a two cup measuring cup and skim off the fat. I then fill the rest of the measuring cup with stock.

Turkey Gravy

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Pan drippings and stock to make two cups
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet. Whisk in the flour and stir until well coated. Keep stirring until lightly brown and the flour taste has been cooked out, about 5 minutes.

Slowly whisk in the liquid, adding only small amounts in at a time and stirring until incorporated and lump free. Once all the liquid is added, continue to stir and cook until bubbly. Reduce heat to low. Let thicken and then begin to season.

Should you get it too salty, you can add more stock, stir well and let thicken again. This is why I recommend not seasoning until the gravy has thickened.

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Taking Chicken Kiev South

What’s not to like about the herbed buttery taste of Chicken Kiev? Some may consider the dish old fashioned but I dream sometimes of those hidden pockets of melted, herbed butter that spurt as you cut into it.

It is all good to dream but I knew it could be better if I grilled it instead of coating it in breadcrumbs and baking it. And, of course, everything tastes better with bacon. Here is this southerner’s take on the classic dish.

I did make a few without the bacon and, with judicious handling (and double the toothpicks), the butter pocket stayed intact until they reached the table. Even where the butter had leaked out a bit, the herbs had been left behind, so the chicken still tasted awesome.

8 chicken thighs, skinned and deboned
2 sticks butter
6 tablespoons tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
16 slices of bacon

In a food processor, mix the butter, tarragon, garlic and lemon. Place on a plastic sheet and form into a roll. Place in the freezer for a couple hours to chill.

Take the chicken thighs lightly salt and pepper both sides. Slice the herbed butter and place 2 tablespoons of butter inside each thigh. Close it up to envelop the butter inside and place on top of two pieces of bacon laid crosswise. Use the bacon to seal the chicken closed and secure with baker’s twine or toothpicks. Refrigerate while you prepare the grill.

Set up your grill for indirect cooking. Lay down a drip pan to contain any blowouts. I used a hickory chunk for smoke. Place the thighs on the grill, open side up and cook for fifteen minutes. Melt any leftover herbed butter and baste the thighs before rotating the chicken thighs one quarter turn, making sure to keep the open end up. Continue cooking, basting and rotating until meat is done, about 45 minutes to an hour. Safe temperature for chicken is 165 degrees F.

Remove twine and toothpicks and serve with any leftover basting liquid.

Any bacon that didn’t crisp, save and crisp in the microwave. Freeze in a zip top bag and crumble over salad or baked potato for the best bacon bits ever.

Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub

While wandering through the Fall Plant Sale from the Herb Society of America, New Orleans Unit, I saw lots of rosemary and sage plants (and we even bought a non-edible sage – Salvia oxyphora). When out grocery shopping later and we found a great deal on chicken thighs, I already knew the flavor profile I wanted.

After letting the chicken sit for a while in a sweet tea brine, I prepared a rub with rosemary and sage. I set the grill up for indirect cooking and I started the thighs skin side down for the first 15 minutes to get some lovely marks on them before flipping them over to cook the rest of the way. It took about an hour total for them to reach 170 degrees F.

Sweet tea brine

3 black tea bags
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
10 chicken thighs

Steep the tea in 4 cups of hot water at least five minutes and until good and dark. Add the sugar and salt and stir until they’ve dissolved. Add in the lemon peel and 2 cups of ice. Stir to melt the ice and cool down the brine. Pour over chicken and put in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

Drain the chicken and pat dry. Keep in the refrigerator until about an hour before grilling. Sprinkle both sides with the Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub and let sit on the counter until your fire is ready.

Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub

1/4 cup fresh, chopped rosemary leaves (measure after chopping)
1 tablespoon dried sage
2 teaspoons granulated garlic (optional)
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Using your fingers to mix all the ingredients to combine and then sprinkle on the chicken. Place any unused rub in an airtight container.

I served the chicken with chicken broth potatoes and a small spinach salad (Michelle insisted on something green!).

Scarborough Fair Rub for Chicken

I soaked 10 lbs of chicken leg quarters overnight in a rosemary buttermilk brine:
2.5 quarts of buttermilk
4 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons kosher salt.

The next day I put on a dry rub that harkens back to that 16th century English folk tune – as the main ingredients are sage, rosemary and thyme. The parsley is added as a final step while the meat rests.

I grilled my chicken over indirect heat for about an hour. The chicken can also be roasted in the oven at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour.

Scarborough Fair Chicken Rub

2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground sage
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Sprinkle over both sides of the chicken. Store any unused in an airtight container.

Grill or roast the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Sprinkle on the parsley after the meat comes off the fire, while it rests for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Adobo Rubbed Grilled Chicken

I’ve been getting a lot of use out of my Soul box from Penzey’s Spices. This is a box with 8 different spice mixtures the company puts out. As Bill wrote, “The blends make up much the soul of American cooking and each represents those souls brave enough to find their way to American and whose courage has always made America great.”

I’ve already used the Ozark style seasoning on brined, grilled chicken:

the Galena Street Rib Rub on some ribs;

and, the Cajun Seasoning in my Cha Cha Cha Cajun Shrimp.

Now it is only fitting, I use the Adobo seasoning on more grilled chicken. It is a little spicy, so I needed to make a rub with brown sugar and salt first.

Adobo Rub

Brine:

4 black tea bags (I used orange pekoe)
1 quart boiling water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 quarts water
10 lb chicken leg quarters

Rub:

3 tablespoons Adobo seasoning (I used Penzey’s)
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Steep the tea until good and dark. In a large pot mix the tea with the sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add in additional water and stir to mix. Place the chicken in the brine and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Mix the rub ingredients together and set aside in an airtight container until ready to use.

Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and coat with the dry rub. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.

Prepare your grill for indirect grilling. Remove chicken from the refridgerator and let sit on the counter until the coals are ready. Grill meat side down for 15 minutes, then turn over and grill until done about 40 to 50 minutes more.

Pickle Juice Brined Chicken

Daisy waits for the chicken to be done

I don’t know about you but when I eat the last pickle in the jar, it hurts me to let all that juice go down the drain. I’ve taken to saving it and using it as a brine on chicken. It is great as a base for fried chicken (especially if you’re like me and a fan of Chick-fil-a’s chicken but not their politics). It doesn’t make pickle chicken, though. There is a nice tang, like what you get from a buttermilk soak. I wanted to see if I could translate it to grilled or roasted chicken as well.

I used one of my favorite meat rubs (Emeril’s Rustic Rub) but any kind you have that includes salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper would be delicious.

Pickle Brined Roast Chicken

4 lb whole chicken
2 cups pickle juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry rub, plus additional

Stir together the pickle juice, sugar and rub. Whisk until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Place the chicken and liquid in a zip top bag and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

For grilling: Heat up a chimney full of coals and pour them in a half circle around the edge of your grill.

For the oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat an ovenproof skillet (I use cast iron) over medium high heat.

Remove chicken from the brine. Dry off the chicken and then coat with olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with your dry rub.

For grilling: Place the chicken breast side up on the grill and and cook over indirect heat for about an hour or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

For the oven: Place a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Set the chicken breast side down the hot pan and allow it cook for 10 minutes to brown. Flip the chicken over and transfer it right into the oven. Cook for 60 minutes in the oven or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Carolina Gold Grilled Pork Chops

My mom has been up in Asheville for the summer so my thoughts turned to the many different Carolina styles of barbecue. I decided to virtually head down I-26 from her and try the South Carolina style (mustard based). I had pork steaks instead of a whole hog so I didn’t need to use a sauce. Instead, I rubbed on a basic mustard based spice mix on the chops and then melted some butter and mixed it with more rub to baste the chops while they cooked. Because these aren’t particularly thick, instead of letting them come to room temperature before going on the fire, put them on the grill right out of the fridge.

Carolina Gold Rub

3 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix together. Sprinkle generously over pork or chicken. Store any remaining in an air tight container.

Grilled Chops

4 pork chops
1/2 cup kosher salt
12 peppercorns
2 black teabags

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the salt, peppercorns and teabags and stir to mix. After 5 minutes, remove teabags and add a cup of ice cubes. Stir to lower the temperature of the water. Mix with another 4 cups of water and add the chops.

Brine the chops for 1 hour – no more or they will be too salty. Rinse and pat dry. Lay out on a rimmed baking sheet and rub both sides with dry spice mix. Place in refrigerator overnight.

Use 2-3 tablespoons of remaining rub to mix with 4-6 tablespoons of melted butter.

Set up your grill for indirect grilling. Start the chops on the cool side for 4 minutes per side. Move to the hot side and baste with the butter/rub mixture for an additional 2 minutes per side or until done.