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Perfect Rotisserie Turkey

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After a lot of research, trial and error, great talks with Dennis, I’ve unlocked some secrets to the perfect rotisserie Turkey.

1. Brine: 1 gal of water.  1/2 cup of kosher salt.  1/4 cup brown sugar.   That’s it.  Nothing more.  Top chefs I’ve talked to, that’s  all they use and all that is needed.  Brine for 24 hours.  Double recipe if needed.

2.  Baking Powder:  It must NOT contain aluminum.  Pat dry the bird after brining.  Use a fine mesh sieve and dust the entire bird.  This works great for crisping up the skin and also works great on chicken wings too 👍.

3.  Air Dry:  Air dry the bird 24 hours uncovered in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temp about an hour before the fire.

4.  Drainage:  Use a Jacard meat tenderizer or knife to make small slits in the skin in fatty areas to drain rendered fat.  This will allow rendered fat to drain, fall into the hot coals and smoke which will give your bird absolutely incredible flavor.

5.  Truss:  Truss the bird and Install the skewer directly through the center of bird.  Use the skewer point and a hammer to pierce the cartilage making sure it is evenly placed through the center.  

6.  Fire:  375-400 at the dome. Preheat at least one hour in cold temps.  Add 2 cherry wood chunks to the fire about an hour into the cook - gives nice subtle hint of smoke and adds nice color to the bird.

7.  BIG SECRET-Heat deflector: This is a game changer I discovered.  Use a Weber stainless steel perforated roasting pan as your heat deflector.  The square one fits perfectly between the handles on a 23 Ultimate.  See picture below.  This deflects the heat, but most importantly, allows renderings from the bird to drain through and reach the fire which adds incredible flavor to the bird.  Better yet, the pan blocks all flareups from reaching the bird.  

8.  Baste Recipe:  Roast the bird for 1 hour.  Prepare a baste consisting of 1 cup olive oil, one stick of butter, chop thyme, rosemary, chive, sage - add to oil.  Purée’ a shallot, and mash two garlic cloves - add to oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Heat on low and combine.

9. Basting Mop:  Take a small bunch of thyme, rosemary, and sage stalks and tie them up super tight with twine twice at the end making a mop.  Stir and saturate in the basting oil.  Remove basting oil from heat.  
 

10.  Baste:  Baste the bird every 20-30 minutes after the first hour. The basting oil will drip into the hot fire again creating incredible flavor.  The oil will also help crisp up the skin.  
 

11.  Temp: 170-175 breast and 185 dark meat.  Generally, white meat finishes first. As the white meat approaches its finish temp, I stop the rotisserie so the dark meat is facing the fire and I hold this until the dark meat hits the indicated temps.  Do this when the white meat is about 165+ for about 15 minutes.  The connective tissues in dark meat will not render until about 180-185.  If you go above to 190, no big deal.  The higher the better.  

12.  Scorch:  Turn the rotisserie back on. Bring the fire up to 500 and finish for 5 minutes.  This will give the bird its final color and crisp it up.  
 

13.  Remove the bird.  Let rest for 15-45 minutes - I find that 30+ works best.  Carve and enjoy.

14. Meater Probe:  These work fantastic with no wires and really changes the rotisserie game.  You get internal temps and external temps directly at the pint of the cook and the software interface is really nice.  The estimated cook times get you close in terms of internal temps but use a Thermopen to spot check around the bird to fine tune.  

 

This is the very best turkey all of my guests including a professional chef has ever tasted. My neighbors texted me and I found them hovering around the grill waiting for samples 😂.  Been asked to do a demo for a local William Sanoma store.  It’s incredibly flavorful throughout.  The white meat is moist without being watery or salty and has incredible grilled flavor.  The dark meat is succulent - absolutely delicious.  The key is the perforated heat deflector - it is truly a game changer - Enjoy!

 

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Edited by KK787
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Nice tutorial on rotisserie birds. Looks great. 

I backed MEATER as a Kickstarter funding back when they just were getting started. I immediately saw the potential for rotisserie cooks. Took them a while to get the bugs out (see MEATER+), but they finally got it working as intended. I highly recommend getting one. Probably a good Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal out there?

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You were ahead of your time Tony!!  It’s really cool watching Kickstarter projects come to fruition.  In my Perfect Prime Prime Rib rotisserie post, the Meater saved the day.  I estimated the cook to be around 4+ hours.  I used all four probes and an hour into the cook, Meater estimated the cook was going to be done in 1.5 hours - an hour and a half early. I was in disbelief. So I pulled out the thermopen and confirmed the temps bingo, the roast finished an hour and a half early.  The KK with hits huge heat retention just cooks things faster. But without the Meater, I would have had an overdone roast.  Thanks Tony - have a great holiday season.  

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On 11/25/2022 at 1:27 AM, KK787 said:

The key is the perforated heat deflector

Nice looking bird, the heat deflector allows for some crispng to the skin and the Roto does it evenly. Taking a veggie griller and repurposing it's use for this application is a step over the solid deflectors that can't provide what the perforated one does. A few years back I took Dennis's round SS plate and did the same for the same purpose, however I had some opposition or maybe misunderstanding, though I've still been using it continuously for cooks such as yours that make it a unique item. Here's another veggie griller similar to yours only with holes, having the correct amount heat to by pass through the deflector when cooking a large bird as yours  gives you results a solid deflector can't especially on the Roto. I'm glad you think outside the box and your results were so rewarding, good luck at Sonoma, a wonderful bird 

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I kept mine pretty simple but turned out really good. Just a kosher salt and brown sugar wet brine for roughly 18hrs or so. Threw in a bunch of garlic sage and thyme as well but not sure that had much effect on flavor. I'll have to consider the air drying step in the future and see if that makes a difference. The turkey was shifting around a bit on the rotisserie at first but as the skin browned and tightened up, the bird rotated smoothly. The brine made for very tender and moist breast meat. Everyone was very thought it tasted great. I thought for sure it was dried out with how the skin split and breast was pulling away from the bone but as mentioned the meat was still very moist. Pulled it off with an internal breast temp of 167 deg....A little later than planned but caught it in time before getting overcooked.

Not quite done yet:

Ready to take it off:

 

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What do you reckon the rotisserie capacity is on my KK42?  After thanksgiving there was a massive 30 pound turkey and they were practically giving it away at the grocery store.  Frozen.  But I have a bunch of people coming over in a couple of weekends.  Do you think the roti on a KK can handle 30 lbs?

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Wouldn't trust it on 42 if your placement is centered, and the rod is the same thickness/diameter as the smaller kk's. You may get away with hugginng the side and using a half basket. Brine your turkey and spatchcock it for something that large IMHO.  Ever try a citrus brine?

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Weight is a consideration but even the motor won't do much good if your turkey is sitting in the coals. The onegrill recommended for the 23 has a 50 lb max capacity for a balanced load with a 30 lb limit for an unbalanced. With the 42 you may have the up grade but even so the smaller motor as I have would be enough with a secure load. The 5/16 spit rod with an unbalanced load could have some bounce and if your ends aren't securely fastened you'll be pulling the meat from the fire. Anyway you slice it, all factors for setting and spinning should be cautiously observed. Moving it to the side will minimize any bounce

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@tony b I have the regular rod fork combo, not the basket.  My rotisserie rod for the SBB 42" is 1/2". .  @Tyrus I have the onegrill heavy duty which is supposed to go up to 75 lbs.  I think it would work but I like the suggestion about spatchcocking the bird insetead.  Since my big 30 pound bird is frozen it has already been injected.  I have heard mixed reviews on trying to brine one that has been previously injected.  I was thinking about dry brining.  But I am wide open to suggestions.  What is this citrus brine you speak of, Tyrus?

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12 hours ago, johnnymnemonic said:

What is this citrus brine you speak of, Tyrus?

I did one few years back John when the price of fruit didn't exceed the price of the turkey, however it is a 24 hr brine with the recommended salt and brown sugar or a bit less sugar since it requires some orange juice.  Your std brine generally requires 1 cup salt/gal of water with a half cup brown sugar. The additional amounts are a half gal of orange juice, 6 squeezed oranges all bodies added, 6 limes repeated and 6 lemons all in a 5 gallon bucket covered in ice and placed in the garage. Any additional ingredients like cloves or dry herbs are by choice and a personal decision. You could use a cooler if in a warmer climate, the idea is to keep the bird 40 degrees or as long as the ice doesn't fully melt. As some of the salt migrates into the meat it also draws in citrus flavor, what your left with is a hint of citrus noticable in the meat. Nothing overpowering, but as I remember I had stuffed the carcass with either new citrus or the brined ones. When it comes to brines John your only limited to your imagination, as long as the parameters work with regards to how your ingredients work well together.  I would still use a solid deflector if spatchcocked, maybe start lower on temp and draw up to finish, it's all a bit of science and nobody to copilot. Enjoy the ride I wish you luck and umm KK787.........nice bird, great idea.   
 

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Forgot to mention a great French Chef technique …….. after pulling your bird from the refrigerator, put ice packs on the breast meat while the rest of the bird comes to room temp.  This will ensure your dark meat finishes in the 185 - 190 range as the breast hits the 170s while maintaining a consistent skin doneness all around. .  The dark meat connective tissue at renders at about 180.  Anything below that temp the dark meat could be a bit tough.  

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I'm encouraged.  I think I will try the wet brine and the rotisserie.  I'll have backup if I ruin the bird in the fire, but I agree, the 42 should be up to the task, and I think I can make sure the rod is tight when I put it in.  I might get a few extra degrees of heat while I have the KK open futzing with making sure the rod is placed well, so I will heat soak at a lower temp and if the cook starts a little high, that won't be a problem.

 

I will let you know how it goes - I will brine in the yeti 24-36 hrs.  Should be really good.

Really appreciate the input @Tyrus @tekobo @C6Bill @tony b

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