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SeaBrisket

Meathead Turkey Recipe - KJ Classic Setup

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Happy Thanksgiving all! I did my first turkey today and it came out great but I'm looking to improve next year. My problem was my setup on my KJ Classic. I followed Meathead's recipe for a traditional bird plus the gravy made from the drippings.

 

My issue was the setup of the disposable roasting pan for the gravy. The recipe calls for 3 quarts of liquid in the pan, much more than the capacity of the drip pans I usually use under meat. I picked up a deep, wide pan that barely fit under the grill surface (should have checked that before it was too late). In fact I had to bend it a bit to get it to fit.

 

Meathead suggests that the bird sits on the grill at least three inches above the pan but I had no way of getting that gap with what I had available. One mistake I made is I always use a few one inch square ceramic pieces between the drip pan and deflector plate to keep the bottom of the pan from burning so I should have removed those but it still wouldn't have given me enough space. The turkey basically sat directly above the broad steaming pan throughout the cook making the bottom skin soggy and preventing browning of the bottoms of the legs and wings.

 

My second issue, which I think was also the fault of the roasting pan size, is I could not get up to temp! I'm shooting for 325 and I got there after some time with the drip pan in when I was preheating.  Once the bird went on it cooked at just 275-300 with both vents wide open, dropping after a couple of hours to 250, which is when I decided to just finish it in the oven. I was measuring with both a grill-level thermometer and the KJ dial and they were in agreement throughout the cook by a few degrees. I had cleaned all ashes out of the grill, stacked KJ big lump at the bottom of the pile and Royal Oak on that, which is pretty much always my setup and normally works fine for me at any temp. I didn't peek at all for the first hour and then only in about 30-45 minute intervals after that to top off the water in the pan. It was raining steadily but I can't imagine that would be such a factor as to keep my temp under 300.

 

I've attached a few pictures of the setup and finished bird (no, the bottle of ranch dressing was not used on the turkey!). Any suggestions on a better approach? I'm not sure how I'd do a smaller pan size as the liquid was less than an inch from the top lip and nearly overflowing as it bubbled. Plus I had to add boiling water two or three times so if I went smaller with less liquid I might risk it all boiling off.

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Edited by SeaBrisket
Grammar

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Update. I went out to light my grill this morning for a cleaning and took this picture after stirring the ash out. This was a full firebox that ran under 300° F for just a few hours. I would expect to find just a small portion of the lump used up but what remains tells me that this fire was raging yet failed to heat the dome. 

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2 minutes ago, ndg_2000 said:

The only thing I can think off is the quantity of fluid under the turkey acted as a heat sink and as it was boiling down kept the temp down on the dome thermometer 

Exactly what I'm thinking but what is the fix for my setup? I have a raised grill extender but that goes too high into the dome to fit a full turkey and only addresses the distance between the pan and bird, not the issue of getting the temp up. That my fire was clearly burning hot tells it was wise to do the air gap above the deflector so I don't think I can save space there.

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37 minutes ago, ndg_2000 said:

The only thing I can think of is to reduce the amount of fluid in the pan or maybe just do away with it all together and do your gravy from the giblets. 

I think you're probably right but the gravy was so good.

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Yeah, the water was a heat sink.  The water will be sucking up the heat your coals are making and it will never be above 212° so you're going to have a cold spot under the bird whose surface you're trying to heat to 325°.

 

I think water in most pits is overrated.  It's especially true in a quality kamado.  You're just putting water vapor into your neighborhood.

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I try to avoid introducing water or pretty much any liquid but I wanted the drippings for the gravy and it came out excellent. Might just have to rethink things next time. A water pan always creates a heat sink, mopping always makes my temps spike. 

 

 

3 hours ago, pmillen said:

Yeah, the water was a heat sink.  The water will be sucking up the heat your coals are making and it will never be above 212° so you're going to have a cold spot under the bird whose surface you're trying to heat to 325°.

 

I think water in most pits is overrated.  It's especially true in a quality kamado.  You're just putting water vapor into your neighborhood.

 

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I also used Meathead's suggestions and for the first time used the Simon & Garfunkel rub. My issue was I looked through my stash of disposable pans, decided I needed something a tad bigger and bought a good sized turkey pan (larger width and length, but also height). Problem was I forgot that the legs on the Goldens' grates aren't that tall (3" or so), which limits the height of the pan on the sear plate. The pan I bought caused the grates to sit on top of it and not on the fire ring, so back to square one with a shorter, smaller pan. Had I been using the Bubba Keg with the BGE platesetter, the taller pan would have fit. So it goes. 

 

Giblets, neck, backbone, veggies all went into the pan with some chicken stock. I almost ran it dry during the cook even though the pan was sitting on some tiles to keep it off the cast iron deflector. Gravy still turned out perfect. Some pics.

 

Realized I had already taken the pan inside to start on the gravy, replacing it with aluminum foil to keep the deflector clean -

 

 DSCN4454_zpsifpwkqsa.jpg

 

Finished results -

 

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Absolutely the best turkey I've ever grilled. Dry brined, left uncovered in the fridge for 2 days. Skin was incredibly crisp. The Simon and Garfunkel rub was outstanding. I usually use Plowboys or something like it, but those have been upstaged by S&G.

 

-lunchman

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Glad to hear from somebody who tried the Meathead method. Yes, the S&G was excellent. I've made lazy versions of it before but this was the first time I went with the full recipe. I also went with the fresh sage leaves under the skin since I have it in my yard.

 

Did you have temperature issues with your setup? Looks like you got better browning with the spatchcock method at least. My mother was already nervous enough to hand over the turkey duty so I went with the traditional full bird. She now says I'm in charge of all future turkeys!

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42 minutes ago, SeaBrisket said:

Glad to hear from somebody who tried the Meathead method. Yes, the S&G was excellent. I've made lazy versions of it before but this was the first time I went with the full recipe. I also went with the fresh sage leaves under the skin since I have it in my yard.

 

Did you have temperature issues with your setup? Looks like you got better browning with the spatchcock method at least. My mother was already nervous enough to hand over the turkey duty so I went with the traditional full bird. She now says I'm in charge of all future turkeys!

 

Nope, no problems at all with temps holding around 320-340 through most of the cook. My concern that day were the ambient temps, which here in Massachusetts were in the mid-teens all day. I've grilled in colder weather so I wasn't overly concerned since it was just my wife and me. I had every intention of cooking the bird whole, but with the temps where they were, decided it would be done quicker and more evenly if spatchcocked. BTW, yours looks quite good, nice color. 

 

I opted not to smear the turkey skin with butter, went with a spray of EVOO to get the S&G to adhere. I like that look of the sage leaves under the skin, something I'll have to try at some point. The only ingredient I left out of the S&G rub was the bay leaf. I chopped the leaves as small as possible, couldn't get them fine enough and didn't want bits of hard bay leaf on the skin. I was using a mortar and pestle for the rest of the ingredients and wasn't in the mood to break out the food processor. 

 

-Dom

 

 

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5 hours ago, lunchman said:

 

I opted not to smear the turkey skin with butter, went with a spray of EVOO to get the S&G to adhere. I like that look of the sage leaves under the skin, something I'll have to try at some point. The only ingredient I left out of the S&G rub was the bay leaf. I chopped the leaves as small as possible, couldn't get them fine enough and didn't want bits of hard bay leaf on the skin. I was using a mortar and pestle for the rest of the ingredients and wasn't in the mood to break out the food processor. 

I mixed olive oil with the S&G then applied. No butter. Worked out nicely. I also used a mortar and pestle for the herbs, including bay leaf which took some time and impatient crumbling with my fingers. No hard bits, though.

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On 11/24/2018 at 1:53 AM, SeaBrisket said:

I try to avoid introducing water or pretty much any liquid but I wanted the drippings for the gravy and it came out excellent. Might just have to rethink things next time. A water pan always creates a heat sink, mopping always makes my temps spike. 

 

 

 

You may not need to catch drippings to make turkey gravy.  Look for KJTerp’s comment on making gravy without drippings in the Let Rendered Turkey Fat Drip onto Coals? thread in this section.

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52 minutes ago, pmillen said:

You may not need to catch drippings to make turkey gravy.  Look for KJTerp’s comment on making gravy without drippings in the Let Rendered Turkey Fat Drip onto Coals? thread in this section.

ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE GRILLING AND SMOKING FRIENDS

 

I did this for turkey day, and it made a solid quart or more of dark concentrated turkey goodness. The only things I changed this time were:
- I had a half full container of chicken stock sitting in the fridge about to go bad, so I used that and water, no wine or parm rind either.

-When I made the gravy, while the turkey was resting, I poured the little bit of juice that normally comes off into the pan as I was whisking, so there were "drippings" technically.

-I simmered my stock for oh.....5-6 hours, and when it chilled in the fridge it was essentially turkey jello, which means GREAT gelatin extraction, so my gravy (and the soup I made with the remaining stock last night) was silky smooth.

-I also don't remove the fat cap from the gelled stock when i make gravy, but you should if you make soup with it, otherwise your soup looks like it was made by BP in the Gulf of Mexico

 

 

From the thread:

 

"you also don't need drippings for gravy,

take the neck, and the giblets, anything you trimmed off fat and skin wise, and maybe (definitely) buy a pack of TURKEY WINGS at the store (not smoked wings, just turkey wings)

put some oil in a pan, get it hot and brown the bejeezus out of all that meat, then cover with water, add aromatics (onions, celery, carrots, garlic), bonus points if you brown the whole aromatics a little too, and maybe add a little wine with the water, or a parmesan cheese rind section too, add a couple peppercorns, some bay leaves and some other standard herbs and let that bad boy simmer for a good long while, then strain out the solids and boom, turkey stock (you can make this days in advance by the way)

 

on gravy day, just make a quick blonde roux of flour and butter, and add the stock and ta-dah, gravy"

 

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Me too. Used the Meathead gravy recipe. My wife the traditionalist, made the pasty stuff, which turned out great (had to use Meathead drippings). Got his book, Let my gift membership lapse. See that there is a second book imminently. Whatever.

 

The KG forums info are so much to my liking.

 

M.

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