Wine Smoked Turkey – Thanksgiving on the Grill

More than any day of the year, Thanksgiving is centered around a traditional meal with a whole turkey as the crown, destined to be repeated every year.  Break the cycle of overdone oven-baked poultry, get outside with your grill, and bring a revolution to the turkey day menu with the Thanksgiving on the Grill series. Wine Smoked Turkey features rich smoky flavor from wine-infused wood chips, herbal aromatics, and Zinfandel gravy for a rich smothering of goodness. 

The preparation begins with an oil mixture to coat the turkey comprised of olive oil, fresh sage, parsley, and marjoram leaves. Insert an apple and onion into the cavity and smoke the turkey over medium-low heat until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  The Zinfandel gravy features the drippings, giblets, the apple, and onion from the turkey cavity, veggies, and Zinfandel.  Boiled and reduced, this gravy comes out bold, flavorful, chunky, and fragrant, perfect to smother the turkey with.  With so many varying ingredients and methods, the possibilities are endless to experience Thanksgiving Day in a whole new way with the Thanksgiving on the Grill Series from Summerset.

Serves 12

Wine Smoked Turkey Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 cups lightly packed wine-infused wood chips or shavings*
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh sage leaves or 2 tsp. dried sage, plus sage sprigs for garnish
  • 1 tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh marjoram leaves or 1⁄2 tsp. dried marjoram, plus marjoram sprigs for garnish
  • 1⁄2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 turkey (16 to 18 lbs.)
  • 1 Golden Delicious apple, cored
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • Zinfandel Gravy (recipe follows)

Zinfandel Gravy

  • Giblets and neck from a 16- to 18-lb. turkey
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 4 1⁄2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 3⁄4 cups Zinfandel, divided
  • 2 strips orange zest (3 in. each)
  • 1⁄2 tsp. pepper
  • Cooked apple mixture and fat-skimmed turkey pan juices from Wine-Smoked Turkey (above)
  • 1⁄2 cup cornstarch
  • Salt

Wine Smoked Turkey Directions

  1. Soak wine-infused chips or shavings in some water for at least 20 minutes. In a small bowl, mix oil with minced sage, parsley, marjoram, and the pepper.
  2. To prepare turkey, remove and discard leg truss. Remove giblets and neck and set aside for making Zinfandel gravy. Pat turkey dry. Brush turkey all over with 2 tbsp. oil mixture. Cut apple and onion into 1-in. chunks, stir into the remaining oil mixture and spoon apple mixture into the body cavity. Put foil caps on drumstick tips and wingtips. Insert a meat thermometer straight down through the thickest part of the breast to bone (if using an instant-read thermometer, insert later).
  3. Heat a grill to medium-low (about 325°) with the center of the charcoal grate left clear and charcoal banked on either side for indirect cooking. Set a sturdy drip pan between banks of coals and fill the pan halfway with warm water. Add 5 briquets and 1⁄2 cup soaked wood chips or shavings to each side now and every 30 minutes while cooking; if needed, keep grill uncovered for a few minutes to help briquets ignite.
  4. Set turkey, breast up, on cooking grate over drip pan and cook, covered, until meat thermometer or an instant-read thermometer inserted straight down through thickest part of breast to bone registers 165°, 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours (thighs should register 170°); during cooking, loosely tent turkey with foil if it starts to get too dark.
  5. Drain juices and remove apple and onion from cavity; reserve for gravy. Place turkey on a platter and let rest 15 to 30 minutes, then carve. Remove drip pan from grill; skim and discard fat from juices. Reserve juices for Zinfandel gravy. Garnish platter with herb sprigs.

Zinfandel Gravy

  1. In a large pot, combine giblets, neck, onions, carrots, celery, and 1⁄2 cup broth. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat, 20 minutes. Uncover; cook over high heat, stirring often as the liquid evaporates, until giblets and vegetables are browned and browned bits stick to the bottom of the pot, 5 to 8 minutes. Add another 1⁄2 cup broth and stir to loosen browned bits. Cook and brown, uncovered, as before.
  2. Add remaining 3 1⁄2 cups broth, 2 cups Zinfandel, the zest, and pepper to the pot. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours.
  3. Add apple mixture from turkey cavity; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 5 minutes.
  4. Pour broth mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Discard contents of the strainer. Measure broth; if needed, add enough turkey pan juices to make 5 1⁄2 cups. In a pot, mix cornstarch with 1⁄4 cup water and the remaining 3⁄4 cup wine. Stir in broth mixture and cook, stirring, over high heat until boiling, about 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Taken from