A Bird on the Grill is Worth Two in the Oven

For men Thanksgiving is a day of football and over-indulging. For women, Thanksgiving is a day of work and more work. If that sounds sexist to you, well, reality is sexist.

One good way to spread the wealth of work is by cooking your turkey on the grill. I suppose if you’re from the northeast or just plain north, it might be hard to shovel the snow off the porch to get to the grill but for millions of others Thanksgiving is just another sunshine-filled barbecue type of day. If you love barbecue, or love the fact that men do most of the barbecuing, then add Thanksgiving Day to your schedule.

To grill a big bird, you need some advance preparations. Sorry ladies, that job typically falls to you. The type of stuffing used for the bird is a recipe usually passed down through generations. But once stuffed and tied, the bird is ready for mano-a-mano.

In Arizona, we use mesquite wood. If you haven’t heard of mesquite, it’s a tree commonly found in your backyard or purchased by the bag at any convenience store. Mesquite broiled meat is a little bit of heaven on earth. Once you’ve tried mesquite cooked meats, you’ll never go back. If you must use mesquite chips, be generous.

Have hubby build a good fire using newspaper and kindling on the bottom, medium sized sticks in the middle and a couple good-sized limbs on top. The fire needs to be built around a coffee can or old bread tin filled with water and it needs to burn down to embers. Don’t let him wander off to the next football game too soon because mesquite is a hot burning fuel and he’ll need to add wood three or four times to keep the fire going. You need a grill with a lid. If you have a gas grill, make room to place the coffee can or bread tin leaving space for the bird and if your grill comes with instructions on using wood chips, buy your favorite wood, but I recommend mesquite.

Buying two cheap aluminum turkey pans works best since the fire blackens the outside of the pan and they are too flimsy to use just one. Stuff the bird, add your exterior seasonings and butter and wrap the whole thing in heavy-duty aluminum foil. A typical 15-pound bird takes about two and half hours to cook. Make sure you watch that coffee can or bread tin and keep adding water since the steam helps to cook your bird. While checking the water level, baste the bird two or three times during cooking.

The advantages to cooking your bird outside are many. While there’s nothing like the smell of turkey cooking in an oven, the facts are the bird takes up premium space. Space better used for baked vegetables, breads, even pies if you haven’t already made them.

Of course the greatest advantage is that you can pass off that chore to someone else, like men. Be sure the fire stays hot and the water stays filled and always be sure to poke in that thermometer to ensure your bird reaches the right temperature usually listed on the outside wrapping. If you think barbecuing your bird sounds dry, think again. Cooked just right, your bird will be crispy on the outside, moist on the inside and flavored superbly. Plus it gets the men outside to toss a few footballs and out of the kitchen. They could even toss horseshoes but beware. We had a pact with the men to do the dishes every other year. One year when it was the their turn to do the dishes, they pounded in the horseshoe stakes and played while the women cleaned up the table and put food away. Just before they were called in to commence their dish washing chores, someone hit a ringer and a fifteen-foot geyser erupted as they had pounded the stake through the main water line. Of course they blamed it on the contractor for not burying the line deep enough, but the women suspected it was just another ploy to get out of their chore. Nonetheless, a bird on the grill is a mouth-watering treat for Thanksgiving Day and great for those left-over turkey tacos.

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