Executive chef Geoff Gardner of Sel de la Terre in Boston offers this simple recipe as a way to free up the oven on Thanksgiving Day. Geoff tosses soaked wood chips onto his gas grill to give the bird additional flavor and aroma. The bird is brined beforehand, which helps tenderize the meat, and it’s unstuffed, which shortens the cooking time and allows the grill smoke to move through the cavity and permeate the turkey.
2 cups kosher or sea salt
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 12- to 14-pound turkey, neck and giblets removed
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh rosemary
5 bay leaves
In a large stockpot (one that can hold the turkey and brining liquid), combine 2 gallons water, salt, sugar, dried thyme, dried rosemary, peppercorns, and garlic. Bring to a simmer and stir to dissolve salt; remove from heat. Fill sink with ice water, then lower pot into sink to cool brine. When brine is cooled, submerge turkey in brine. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.
Heat grill to medium (about 375° to 400°). If using charcoal, build fire on one side of grill. Remove turkey from brine and discard brine. Rinse and pat turkey dry, then place fresh herbs and bay leaves inside cavity. Place turkey breast side up in a large disposable aluminum baking pan and place on grill. If using charcoal, place pan on opposite side of fire for full circulation of heat. Cover grill tightly.
Check turkey every 30 minutes and baste with any pan juices. Charcoal grills may need to have extra charcoal added to maintain heat. Be careful not to let grill flare up (the pan ought to catch any drippings). Grill turkey about 2 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted into thigh registers 170°. Let turkey rest at least 30 minutes before carving.