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Grilled Turkey


The barbecue is cottage cooking at its best, so why not use it for the holiday turkey?

  • Course: Dinner



  • 12–16 lb (5.5–7 kg) turkey
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) Lemon Rosemary Marinade

Seasonings for breast cavity

  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 2 or 1 small shallots
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 head  garlic, papery outside skin removed and tips cut off about 1⁄4
  • 2–3 sprigs fresh, or 2 tsp (10 ml) dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. 1. Remove excess fat from around the body cavities of the turkey. Pull out the giblets from the breast cavity. (If you haven’t made stock for the gravy ahead of time, use the giblets to make a shortcut stock). Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water or wipe thoroughly with a clean, wet towel, then pat dry. Rub inside and out with the cut lemon, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate while you prepare the marinade and the seasonings for the breast cavity. (Remember to wash utensils, dishes, and surfaces thoroughly with hot soapy water after preparing raw poultry.)
  2. 2. Rub turkey all over with marinade and brush a little in the neck and breast cavities. Tuck loose neck skin beneath the bird and secure with a metal skewer. Place seasonings in breast cavity. (The stuffing should be cooked separately.) The turkey will be easier to handle if you truss the limbs to the body with cotton string. The prepared turkey may be placed in a roasting pan, loosely covered with plastic wrap, and left in the refrigerator for 3–4 hours.
  3. 3. Remove turkey from refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Prepare the barbecue for indirect grilling (see Grilling Technique for Large Birds) and lightly oil the grill. When the barbecue is ready, place turkey directly on the grill over a drip pan and cover. Monitor the cooking temperature and add more coals or adjust the gas as required. Cook until done when tested, 2–21⁄2 hours. Juices should run clear and the internal temperature registered by an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh should read 170°F (77°C). (See Cooking Times and Tips.)
  4. 4. Remove turkey from grill to a warm platter and let stand, loosely covered with aluminum foil, for at least 15–20 minutes before carving. Discard the seasonings from the breast cavity. Since our old cottage table is never large enough for all the dinner clutter, the carver has his separate carving space with sharpened carving knife and several warm smaller platters at the ready. Bring platters of sliced light and dark meat to the table, garnished with fresh herbs or watercress.
  5. Tips:
  6. - Grill whole garlic bulbs wrapped in foil on the edge of the fire beside the turkey for about 40 minutes until the cloves are soft. Allow to cool, then cut across the tops of the cloves and squeeze out the soft roasted garlic. Use it to flavour mashed potatoes or gravy, or both. Since garlic becomes sweet and mild when roasted, consider putting in an entire head if you’re making mashed potatoes for 10–12, while just a clove or two will lend sufficient flavour to the Marsala Mushroom Gravy recipe.
  7. - As an alternative to a large bird for smaller gatherings, a grilled, marinated fresh turkey breast half, about 3–3 1⁄2 lbs (1.5–2 kg), makes a delicious feast for 4–6 people, or for 2–4 with plenty left over to make great sandwiches.
  8. - Prepare and marinate the breast as you would the whole turkey, reducing the quantity of marinade by half. Barbecue in a covered grill over a drip pan using indirect heat. The cooking time will be shorter – about 1–11⁄2 hours – and, if you’re cooking over charcoal, you’ll need fewer briquettes (about 30–40). The turkey breast is done when the juices run clear and the temperature on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers 170˚F (77˚C).


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Oct. 6, 2011

6:43 am

No marinade recipe, too bad it looked worth trying............ sigh


Oct. 4, 2011

9:41 pm

that one I found. Go to where it says 5 BBQ roasts and in blue you'll see "Try something new and grill up a big cut of meat this Thanksgiving" now, if only someone at CL could help me find the marinade recipe...that or I'm blind!


Oct. 4, 2011

8:36 am

Where is the Grilling techniques for Large Birds? I don't see it on this page or a link.


Oct. 4, 2011

8:13 am

Marinade??? I don't see instructions/recipe!! Maybe it's my old eyes?

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Jane Rodmell