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Grilled, Smoked and Fried Turkeys Heat Up Thanksgiving Dinners

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2008-11-03 03:27:31     
Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Each Thanksgiving, many consumers opt for a holiday turkey cooked on the grill, smoker or fryer, forgoing the usual oven and stove-top feast. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), turkeys can be fried in less than an hour, smoked over low heat for several hours or even cooked on a grill -- each option offers a mouthwatering meal packed with juicy flavor and crispy taste.

"As the popularity of year-round outdoor cooking grows, so does our appetite to try new techniques and recipes -- even for Thanksgiving," said Leslie Wheeler, HPBA Communications Director. "This holiday, add a twist to your tradition and head outside to prepare your Thanksgiving feast while also enjoying fall's cooler temperatures that are ideal for outdoor cooking."

Whether consumers plan to grill, smoke or fry this year's whole turkey or turkey breast, HPBA and the National Turkey Federation (NTF) offer preparation and cooking tips to ensure a safe and delicious Thanksgiving meal.

Before You Begin

Outdoor cooking times depend on many factors: the size and shape of the turkey, the distance from the heat and the outside air temperature. Allow more time on cold or windy days and at high altitudes. Allow less time in very hot weather. Also:

* Check to make sure the grill, smoker or fryer is in working order. Be sure to read the owner's manual for safety precautions.

* Stock up on enough charcoal, propane, oil or wood chips needed to cook the meal.

* Purchase a whole turkey according to the weight recommendations in your grill's, smoker's or fryer's owner's manual.

* Thaw the turkey completely and pat it dry. Cook the bird un-stuffed.

* Brine the turkey for increased flavor and moisture.

* Have a food thermometer handy to measure the internal temperature of the bird; the temperature should be 165 degrees F to 170 degrees F in the breast and 175 degrees F to 180 degrees F in the thigh.

Roasted Taste -- From the Grill (Using the Indirect Grilling Procedure)

* Purchase a turkey that is broad and flat to fit underneath the covered grill top.

* Make sure there is at least one-inch of space between the turkey and the grill lid.

* Apply a thin coating of non-stick vegetable cooking oil to the unheated rack and brush the outer surface of the turkey with cooking oil.

* Do not tie the legs together when grilling a whole bird. The turkey will cook more evenly if hot air circulates to all areas of the bird.

* Allow for two to three hours of indirect cooking time for an eight to 12 pound turkey and three to four hours for a 12-16 pound turkey.

Smoked Turkey -- for a Different, Flavorful Experience

* Be sure the smoker reaches an internal temperature of 250 degrees F to 300 degrees F before inserting the turkey.

* Place the turkey in the smoker with the breast facing up.

* Make sure there is at least one inch of space between the turkey and the smoker lid.

* If using a charcoal smoker, add charcoal often to maintain the 250 degrees F to 300 degrees F temperature necessary to produce the hot smoke that cooks the turkey.

* Smoke the turkey 20 to 30 minutes per pound.

Fried Turkey -- a Crisp Alternative

* In addition to frying a whole turkey, turkey breasts, legs and thighs are also ideal for frying.

* If using an oil fryer, always use a high smoke point frying oil, such as peanut oil. Never allow the cooking oil to exceed 375 degrees F.

* Always lower the turkey slowly into the hot oil.

* Allow three to four minutes of fry-time per pound for whole turkeys in an oil fryer and eight to ten minutes per pound in an infrared oil-less fryer.

* Allow oil to cool completely before removing from pot.

For all cooking options, be sure to use the grill, smoker or fryer outside only -- never indoors and make sure the grill, smoker or fryer is set-up on a flat, stable surface, preferably on a protective grill pad, and away from any combustible materials (wood rail or decks, dry grass, leaves or shrubs). In the event of an oil or grease fire, do not attempt to extinguish with water. Immediately call the fire department. An operable dry-chemical fire extinguisher may, in some circumstance, contain the fire.

Don't Forget The Trimmings!

While the turkey is the heart of the meal, Thanksgiving's savory side dishes, including vegetables, fruits and desserts, can all be cooked outdoors. Try America's Outdoor Cooking Experts Bill and Cheryl Jamison's recipes for crispy smashed potatoes, grilled apples slices or grilled vegetable orzo (available at http://www.hpba.org).

Grilled Apple Slices with Brown Sugar Butter

You need:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

4 large baking apples, such as Rome Beauty

1. Fire up the grill, bringing the temperature to medium.

2. On the edge of the grill, melt the butter with the brown sugar in a small saucepan.

3. Peel, core, and slice the apples, cutting each into one-inch thick wedges.

4. Thread the apples onto thin metal skewers.

5. Brush the apples with about half of the butter.

6. Grill the apples uncovered over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender, turning them so they cook on all sides.

7. In the last one or two minutes, brush apples again with remaining butter.

8. Slide apples from skewers and serve warm as a side dish or light dessert.

For more outdoor cooking tips, trends, resources and recipes, please visit http://www.hpba.org. For more information about cooking turkey, nutritional information and recipes, visit http://www.eatturkey.com.

About Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)

The 2,800-member Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), based in Arlington, VA, is the North American industry association for manufacturers, retailers, distributors, representatives, service firms and allied associates for all types of hearth, barbecue and patio appliances, fuels and accessories. The association provides professional member services and industry support in education, statistics, government relations, marketing, advertising, and consumer education.

Specialized in: Grilled - Smoked - Fried Turkeys - Heat - Dinners
URL: http://www.hpba.org
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