Saturday, March 29, 2014

Woody's Mountain Dew Turkey

Woody and I were friends--even roommate for a while--back in college. Over the years we have stayed in touch, but our friendship took a leap forward a few years ago when we learned that we had both become "Eggers." 

Ever since, Woody's been leaning on me about his Mountain Dew turkey recipe. I finally got around to trying it a few weeks back for a family dinner we hosted. For this post I will intersperse my photos with his instructions.



Full Text from Woody's November 2012 email. Reprinted with permission.

I promised a few folks that I would type up the process I used to prepare this year’s Mountain Dew Thanksgiving Turkey.  Let me begin by saying that I, in no way, take full credit for any of the ideas contained in this recipe.  I made several phone calls to folks and researched a few websites to get some ideas.  I only collected the information and then followed the instructions.  That being said…this turkey was darn tasty, and I will certainly take credit for that!  I did my best to assimilate the steps I took, but in full disclosure, I was consuming mass quantities of adult beverages during the process.  I may have left a detail or two out.

These are the two sites I primarily used to get ideas for Egg set up and cooking temps etc.:
http://www.nakedwhiz.com/madmaxturkey.htm
http://www.biggreeneggsperience.com/Turkey.html

Items Used:
I used a smaller bird
  • Big Green Egg
  • Full bag of Harris Teeter brand lump coal
  • Chunk of apple wood
  • 19 lb turkey - Bought fresh (not frozen) and kept in fridge for a few days before the brining process.
  • Farberware Brining Bag - found at Target and used to hold the bird and liquid.  The double Ziploc top is necessary to prevent a potential mess.
  • 1 Disposable aluminum roasting pan
  • 4 liters Mountain Dew
  • Roasting rack
  • EVOO
  • Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning (2x 3.25 oz bottles)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 red apples
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 gallon freezer bag full of ice
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Aluminum foil

Brining:
  • Remove giblet bag and neck from cavity of turkey. (I discard, but I know some use these items for gravy and/or stuffing)
  • Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water
  • Place turkey in brining bag
  • Pour all 4 liters of Mountain Dew in the brining bag submerging turkey as much as possible.
  • Seal brining bag releasing as much air as possible
  • I placed the bag in garage refrigerator to keep turkey cold.  You can use a cooler and ice bags as described in the sites listed above.
  • Brine the turkey for a total of 36 hours (roughly 2 hours/lb)
  • I flipped the turkey halfway through the process to ensure both sides of turkey were adequately submerged in the Dew.


Turkey en Dew

Egg Set Up:

I poured a full bag (roughly 6lbs) of the lump coal in the Egg.
I placed one decent sized piece of apple wood in the coal to add a little smoke
I used the inverted plate setter method with the ceramic feet as a base on which to place the roasting pan. (good picture of process in the Egg Set Up section of the Naked Whiz link)
As always, test the set up in advance to ensure that everything fits inside the Egg.
Go ahead and light the Egg to bring it to temp 300-320 F.  I let it warm for 20 min or so.


36 hours later . . .
Turkey Prep:
Remove turkey from brine and discard liquid
Pat dry turkey inside and out with paper towels
Liberally rub turkey with EVOO
Coat turkey with Cavender’s seasoning inside and out.  Be sure to cover the entire surface of turkey and even try to sneak some between the skin and breast meat.  You can’t use too much.
At this point, I placed turkey on the roasting rack sitting inside the roasting pan.
Place the Ziploc bag of ice over the breast for about 20 min.  Both websites describe this process and reasons for doing it.  Worked great for me.
Quarter an onion and place in turkey cavity
Quarter and apple and place in turkey cavity
Rough chop a large celery stalk and place in cavity
Place the three rosemary sprigs in cavity
Tie the legs together
Quarter last apple and place in bottom of roasting pan
Soften a stick of butter and mix in some Cavender’s Seasoning (don’t liquefy)
Remove the bag of ice after 15-20 min
Apply the butter/seasoning mixture over the breast (good picture of process in the Egg Set Up section of the Naked Whiz link)
Add roughly 64 oz of water (two big plastic stadium cups full) to bottom of roasting pan (might want to wait until the pan is sitting in the Egg before adding the water to make it easier to carry)

Cavender's butter atop the breast

Icing up, son.

Cooking:

I was able to keep the Egg temperature fairly steady in the 300-310 F range.
Place roasting pan with turkey in Egg and start cooking.  Let cook for 60 min.
After initial 60 min, take some remaining butter/seasoning mixture and, using a brush, baste the breast and legs.
Repeat basting step every 20-30 min.
After two hours or so, keep an eye on the skin as you may want to loosely tent the wings, thighs and breasts with aluminum foil to prevent from over browning





Progress over the course of the morning.

Review:

Back to the voice of your humble Grill Knuckles correspondent. This turkey got rave reviews from family. It was tasty indeed. The Mountain Dew doesn't actually convey much flavor to the turkey meat that any of us picked up on. My wife is a turkey traditionalist. The oven-roasted bird will probably always have a place at our own table, but this is a great recipe for any time you've got a group to feed and want to hit them with a fun and delicious twist on a traditional meal. Thanks, Woody!