R5 Barbeque Turkey Recipe for Thanksgiving

Admit it: You’re bored with the same old, same old oven-roasted turkey year after year on Thanksgiving. Admit, too, that you love all things barbecue. So? We suggest: Brine, dry-rub, and baste your bird to new heights of barbecue glory.

Matt Kay, executive chef/owner of Cedar Street Grill (23 Cedar St, Dobbs Ferry 914-674-0706; cedarstreetgrillny.com) loves the taste of barbecue. But, he warns, cooking a whole turkey on a backyard barbecue grill can be problematic—the white meat and dark meat cook at different rates. The solution: a “barbecue” oven-roasted turkey, a three-step process that involves brining the bird (to help make the meat juicier), patting on a dry rub (to add flavor), and multiple bastings (for a browner skin). “A barbecue oven-roasted turkey comes out moist and flavorful,” Kay says. “A traditional roast tends to be dry. And frying a turkey is tricky because, if the oil is too hot, then you’re risking the outside being too well done and the interior not cooked.”

Photo by Lindsay Burdick-Witts

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Barbecue Oven-Roasted Turkey

(Serves 12)

8 cups water
4 cups light brown sugar
2 cups kosher salt
15 sprigs fresh thyme
4 bay leaves
¼ cup whole black peppercorns
2 cups orange juice

Incorporate all ingredients into a large pot and bring to a boil. Upon reaching a boil, remove from heat, strain the thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaves, and allow the liquid to cool.

½ cup ground cumin
½ cup smoked paprika
½ cup light chili powder
¼ cup celery seed
½ cup light brown sugar
4 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp kosher salt
½ Tbsp fresh cracked pepper

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Measure out 2½ cups for barbecue sauce (follows) and set aside the rest.

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5 slices applewood smoked bacon
12 sprigs fresh thyme
3 Tbsp olive oil
½ large white onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz bourbon
6 cups ketchup (preferably Heinz)
3 cups molasses
2½ cups dry rub
1½ cups brown sugar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Wrap the bacon around the sprigs of thyme using butcher twine. On medium heat, add olive oil to a large pot. Add the bundle of bacon-wrapped thyme and start to render the bacon fat. When the bacon starts to turn golden brown, add onions and garlic. Sauté just until translucent (don’t brown the onions and garlic). Deglaze the pot with bourbon. The bourbon will flare up (when it stops, the alcohol has burned off and you are ready to incorporate the rest of the ingredients). Add the ketchup, molasses, dry rub, brown sugar, and rice wine vinegar. Mix thoroughly. Simmer for a half-hour.
15- to 18-pound turkey

Put the turkey in the pot of brine, cover, place it in the refrigerator, and let it soak for 8 to 12 hours (the brine allows the turkey to stay moist when cooked).
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse with cold water. Pat the turkey with a towel (dry the interior of the turkey, too).
With remaining dry rub, rub down the bird, inside and out. Cover and let marinate in your refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.
When finished marinating, preheat oven to 500° F. Remove any excess dry rub (the lumpy spots) from the turkey. Put turkey on a wire rack and place in oven for 45 minutes. This will crisp up the skin and create a mahogany color.  
Reduce the temperature to 350° F and baste the turkey with the barbecue sauce.
Cook the turkey for three more hours, basting once each hour. The turkey is done when it has reached 165° F internally (use a thermometer to check). Remove from oven and allow turkey to rest for 15 minutes (or until the internal temperature is 175° F). Give one last baste with barbecue sauce before carving.         

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