Now that the holidays have ended and come down I can share with you.
After a couple of months of unsuccessful attempts I have given up hope of retrieving the rest of my Thanksgiving footage. The footage lost on a water damaged SD card compliments of my “terrific two” Jaylen.
As luck would have it, I was only able to salvage key behind the scenes footage of one of my jerk turkey secrets, as well as shopping at one of my favorite local farmer’s markets with my mother. Jerk turkey has become a holiday staple, well a Thanksgiving holiday staple. I am not a big fan of turkey, none of us are actually. And so we only eat it once a year. Specifically, I’m not a fan of the gamey flavor that turkey has, though it is poultry the flavor is stronger than chicken. The flavor carries more heavily in the dark meat. For this reason we started brining our turkey in the early years and then later years we started jerking and smoking the turkey to drown it out.
Since moving to Florida we have a tradition of grilling our turkey. Usually around Thanksgiving it’s still warm out. The house gets extremely hot with the oven going all day. The turkey, no matter how you schedule it always takes away time for other sides to be prepared in the oven. And well I am not an overnight cook or a fan of overnight cooking at all. Grilling a turkey usually only takes at most about 2 1/2 hours so it sharply cuts down the amount of time that you are in your kitchen slaving over a turkey. Grilled turkey is very moist and flavorful with little or no effort.
Jerk Turkey ’17
Last year the grill and carving techniques were perfect. My employer at the time had given us a rather large turkey, I assumed it to be about 18-20 lbs. The turkey was large enough to take up much space in our large cooler. Which brings me to turkey safety, if it’s too big for your your refrigerator or kitchen sink, the SAFEST place for your turkey is in a cooler of ice. I will never forget how HORRIFIED I was when someone shared with me that they soak their turkey in the bathtub. Honey, there isn’t enough bleach and lysol in the world for any of that! I have resorted to removing all shelves from my refrigerator before ever doing anything that crazy or unsanitary! Though I am OCD, I am also a certified SERV Safe Food Protection Manager.
Anyways, I knew that brining would be the only way to get it good and seasoned within 48 hour window that we had. I used a full jar of jerk paste, fresh citrus fruit and herbs as pictured. I added ice as well as orange juice. Unfortunately, the jerk did not full penetrate the turkey.
Jerk turkey works best using a jerk paste with a small to medium sized turkey. A turkey that is at most 12 – 15 pounds since you will be serving a crowd will work just fine.
You want to start this process at least 2 days out from Turkey day.
When I do not have time to make my past or marinade from scratch I use…Walkerswood! I use their jerk paste/ seasoning. It’s very authentic in flavor. It seasons your meat thoroughly have found that most typical chain store marinades are DUPES that will leave you quite disappointed. This gem can be found in the International aisle (next to the Goya products) at select stores though deeper into Sarasota County it can be a challenge to find. It is available online.
For smoking and grilling the turkey we use charcoal, seasoned chopped block wood, or plain firewood. Good complimentary wood flavors are applewood or pecan. A fruit or a nut flavor. I do not recommend mesquite for this recipe. A plain firewood will also work well and that is what we used this time.
You Will Need…
2 Jars of Walkerswood Jerk Paste
1 Cup of Orange Juice
1 bundle of fresh thyme sprigs
1 ball of fresh garlic cloves (skinned and halved)
1-2 limes halved
1 orange halved then quartered (if needed to fit in the turkey cavity)
1 large bag of charcoal
2 – 4 halves of fire wood or 1 large bag of flavored block/ chunk wood
Remove the giblets and casing in the cavity of the turkey and rinse the turkey well. Rinsing gets the stale raw juices that the turkey has been packaged in off. No matter how fresh the turkey these juices are stale and can have a very faint gamey odor.
Once your turkey is prepped rub your turkey down in marinade. Rub the inside cavity with marinade. Make sure to get under the skin of the breast of the turkey. You also want to get under the skin of the drums and the wings of the turkey. The past needs to be on the flesh of the turkey so that the flavor can get all the way through the turkey. From there you will work your way from the inside out. You will rub the turkey skin down all on the outside of the breast, drums and wings as well. For this recipe you will want the skin of the turkey well seasoned.
After you are finished evenly distributing your jerk paste marinade you can pour a small cup of orange juice in the cavity. Then fill the cavity with fresh sliced orange, lime, garlic halves, and fresh thyme.
If the turkey is small enough place in a large marinade bag tie shut and place in an extra large stock pot in the refrigerator for at least 2 days. If the turkey is too large place in a cooler on ice. Replace ice as needed to keep turkey at a safe temperature.
When it’s “Turkey Day”! Fire up that grill! We work with a large residential sized rectangular charbroil grill. A keg or dome grill can also be used. Fill the bottom of your grill with charcoal. On one side of the grill place your firewood or at the top of the coals if you are using blocks (4-5 large blocks will do). Light the grill and allow the coals to burn off until glowing as you usually would. We do use lighter fluid to help this process. If using lighter fluid allow ample time for the fluid to burn off. As your flames die down, coals are glowing, and firewood is smoking your grill is ready. This process can take up to 30 minutes or more. We typically wait for the grill to reach an initial internal temp of 275 to 325 before placing our turkey on the grill. Keeping the grill closed once coals are glowing helps the grill reach the best temperature. You will see plumes of smoke as good indicator that your grill is ready. Once the grill and fire is ready you place your turkey on the grill directly over your coals. Grill the turkey with the grill lid closed for up to 2 to 2 1/2 hours. After 1 1/2 hours check your turkey for charring and temperature. When done the turkey should register 165 degrees. Allow to cool and rest before carving.
This year’s jerk turkey…