More Than One Way to Cook a Turkey

Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga, a ten-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

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Hi Sharon! Lovely post.
I’ve cooked many a turkey in my 45 years of marriage.
Although I’ve used the beer can method on chickens, a turkey is too tall to get in the BBQ or oven sitting up, plus it’s hard to ensure it won’t fall over & spill the hot liquid all over. I cannot not stress enough that you need to OPEN the beer can before insertion. Any liquid works -can be coke or water, etc.
I often brine my chickens or turkeys but I rarely brine form more than an hour. Maybe I don’t get the full benefit of brining but it distributes the salt and is less of a strain on my fridge space (though I know people who use a cooler and ice packs around the bag or whatever the turkey is in.
I’ve roasted turkeys both in the oven and in a pan (plus rack, plus a little water at bottom of pan) on the BBQ. That way, you can make gravy even with a barbecued bird. Without a constant small amount of water under the rack, the pan on barbecue to catch the drippings will burn them. I use a disposable pan on the barbecue, then I transport it outside and back in with a cookie sheet under the disposable pan – otherwise you’ll lose the turkey when the disposable pan collapses under the weight of the turkey.
Also I have tried covering the breast with bacon, which is good in what it does for the bird but it makes the bacon flavourless.
Back in the days when the supermarkets had actual butchers working there, I’d often buy a very large bird, then get the butcher to cut it in half. I’d roast half and freeze the other half for later. Especially on the barbecue, this was perfect; the larger bird has more meat and is better value for the money. The half bird didn’t need turning and was particularly delicious.
Another thing about roasting a turkey on the barbecue is that it takes less time to cook than in the oven. You do need to be careful about temperature regulation, as you want the inside cooked thoroughly but the outside still tender and juicy.
I’d say the barbecue is my favourite way to roast a turkey. And on holiday get-togethers, it means there’s more room in the kitchen and oven for other things. When doing a turkey when it’s not a holiday – especially on a hot day in summer – I appreciate not heating up the house with the oven. We have turkey at least once a season; here in Canada, our thanksgiving is the second Monday in October, so we’re more than ready for another turkey by Christmas and another for Easter.


I forgot to say that if you use the beer can and put a pan underneath to catch the drippings, add a little water to keep them from burning. But be really careful cooking a beer-can bird in the oven, whether on a pan or not, as the can & bird could fall over while putting it in or taking it out, and what a mess that would be – and a danger if the liquid is hot and spilling all over. However the bird cooked this way is worth the trouble..


And if you barbecue, be sure your bird will fit on it with the lid closed. I’ve sometimes over-estimated what would fit. Of course if the bird is nudging the inside of the lid, I am particularly glad of the aluminum foil tent I’ve put over the breast.

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