How To Make Jerk Turkey
A fiery-hot grilled Jamaican jerk turkey for T-day
Sure you can roast a turkey, but will it conjure up visions of blue-green waters and a live reggae show while burning your mouth in a way that feels so right? Nope. So I hit the kitchen to make Jamaican jerk turkey with New York City chef Bradford Thompson — his own kitchen, actually. Thompson's wife Kerry-Ann is the daughter of Glen Brown, who ran Glen's Jerk Chicken restaurants around New York City in the 1980s and '90s. Together, they've painstakingly recreated her mother Jule's renowned jerk sauce, and you'll definitely want to buy a few bottles of this authentic labor of love.
Follow this step-by-step guide to spicy grilled turkey heaven, then make gravy by blending the pan drippings with a little more of that superb sauce, and that is all this turkey needs. Well, that and a crowd of hungry fans of spicy Caribbean Thanksgiving food.
Here's what you'll need:
- A 12-15-pound turkey
- 1 bottle Jule's Jamaican Jerk sauce (or your favorite jerk sauce)
- 4 ounces thyme
- 3-4 lemons, halved
Rinse the turkey and remove the gizzards and insides, reserve for stock. Open the turkey from the backbone, removing the spine and press the bird open in the butterfly position.
Gently cut into the leg and wing joints to allow more even cooking. Trim any excess fatty pieces and pat dry.
Place on a baking tray or large container skin side-up and coat with the jerk sauce and thyme, rubbing it into and under the turkey skin as thoroughly as you can.
Flip the turkey over and coat the inside with jerk sauce, working it into the meat and around the exposed ribs. Allow the bird to sit overnight refrigerated and then remove an hour before cooking to allow the bird to temper.
Light your grill and once embers have formed, push the coal to one side of the grill and place a half sheet tray on the other side of grill.
Place turkey skin side down on a baking sheet, close grill, open flue enough to maintain medium heat, cook for 30 minutes, then rotate the tray. Add wood if needed and close grill. After 1 hour, flip skin side up, stoke fire, cook for 30 minutes, then rotate again. After 3 hours of cooking, check the temp in the joints of the turkey and make sure it is cooked through.
Remove the turkey and allow to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes minimum with aluminum foil covering it.
While the grill is still hot, place the lemon halves cut side down on the grates and grill for 15 minutes or until they have grill marks and are slightly caramelized.
When the turkey has rested long enough, poke around the area between the leg and the thigh with a sharp knife until you find the socket, or the "sweet spot." Pull the leg away from the body with one hand, cut it away from the rest of the body and repeat with the other. Separate the wings from the body using the same technique.
Using downward-slanting slices, carve the breast away from the body in even slices, holding the body down with a large fork. The slices will start small and gradually get bigger. Repeat on the other side. Enjoy!
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