This spectacular roast looks like a humble turkey when whole, but be ready to receive applause with grace and humility when you start to carve it. There are no bones to impede your progress as slice after perfect slice falls from your knife. The juxtaposition of sweet-tart kumquat, aromatic fennel, and velvety chestnuts in the stuffing is equally impressive.
Prep: 1 hour (plus 10 minutes for brine and rub)
Grill: 3 to 4 hours.
BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Jumbo zipper-lock bag
– Grill screen
– Heavy-duty thread and large, sturdy needle, preferably curved (an upholstery needle works great)
– Kitchen twine
– Heavy-duty roasting pan with roasting rack
– Heat-resistant grill mitts.
DEBONING A TURKEY (OR ANY OTHER BIRD)
1. Place the bird, backbone up, on a large, rimmed sheet pan. Make a slit through the skin running straight down the center of the backbone. If you are right-handed, start boning the left side of the turkey first. (Left-handed? Start on the right side.) Using short strokes, work your knife just under the skin, separating the meat from the bone all the way down the length of the backbone. As you are cutting, you should feel bone against one side of the knife at all times. This will ensure that you aren’t leaving meat on the carcass. Use the illustrations below as a guide to the bone structure of the bird.
2. After the meat is disengaged from the backbone, your knife will start to go over the outside of the rib cage. Continue to cut the meat from the rib cage in the same way that you disengaged it from the backbone. Soon you will come to where the leg joins the hip at one end of the turkey, and where the wing joins the shoulder at the other end. If you pull the limbs upward toward the backbone (in the opposite direction of the way they naturally move), the joints will pop out of their sockets. Cut through the tendons holding the joints in place, and the leg and wing will separate from the carcass.
3. In order to get the wing to disengage from the carcass, you will have to cut around the end of the wishbone and the thick bone that attaches the wing to the breast. In order to get the leg to disengage, you will have to cut around the hip bone and slit the membrane surrounding the internal cavity. The leg and wing will now fall away from the carcass.
4. To separate the breast from the carcass, continue to cut around the rib cage, still using short strokes and making sure that you feel bone against one side of the knife. Eventually you will get to the sternum (a large, flat bone that forms the arc of the breast). Scrape the meat from the sternum, stopping at its edge.
5. Turn the bird around and bone the other side in the same way. The bird will now be attached only along the edge of the sternum. Holding the carcass with one hand, and with the sharp edge of the knife angled toward the bone, make small slits down the edge of the sternum as you lift the carcass away from the meat. Be careful to avoid cutting through the skin; it lies right against the bone along the sternum.
6. If you wish, remove the leg and wing bones by grasping the hip bone (for the leg) and the shoulder bone (for the wing), then cutting around the bone with the tip of a knife, removing the meat from the bones. Be careful not to cut through the skin. When you reach the end of the leg, pull the bone from the skin by grasping both and stretching the bone and skin in opposite direction.
Indirect heat, medium (325° to 350°F)
3- or 4-burner grill – middle burner(s) off
2-burner grill – 1 side off
Clean, oiled grate
Indirect heat, medium ash
Split charcoal bed (about 2 dozen coals per side)
20 replacement coals
Heavy-duty drip pan set between banks of charcoal
Clean, oiled grate on medium setting.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 12 TO 14 SERVINGS)
For the turkey:
1 fresh turkey, 18 to 20 pounds
4 cups Orange-Fennel Brine
For the stuffing:
6 dozen chestnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 bulbs fennel, dark green stems and leaves removed, separated
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced 3 cups chicken broth
30 kumquats (about 1½ pints), halved lengthwise, seeds removed, coarsely chopped
For the pan sauce:
1½ cups orange juice
1½ cups chicken or turkey broth
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence or Provençal Herb Rub
2 tablespoons butter
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste.
1. The day before serving, debone the turkey (see “Deboning a Turkey,” left).
2. Put the turkey in a jumbo-size zipper-lock bag with the brine. Seal the zipper, leaving about an inch open; push on the bag to release any trapped air through the opening, and close the zipper completely. Massage the liquid gently into the meat and refrigerate overnight, or for 6 to 12 hours.
3. Heat the grill as directed.
4. To make the stuffings, cut a small X just through the shell on the rounded side of each chestnut, using a serrated knife. Put a grill screen on the grill, away from the fire. Arrange the chestnuts, cutside up, on the screen, close the grill, and cook until the cuts in the shells open wide, the chestnut meat is tender, and the bottom of the shells have browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool until comfortable to touch but still warm, about 10 minutes. Peel away the shells and the hairy skin underneath. Chop the chestnut meat finely.
5. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until the butter melts. Add the onions and fennel and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sage, rosemary, and garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the chicken broth and boil until the liquid is almost all gone, stirring often. Stir in the kumquats. Cool.
6. Remove the turkey from the brine; discard the brine. Put the turkey, skin-side down, on a large, rimmed sheet pan. Sew up the back of the turkey, using a large, sturdy needle and heavy-duty thread, starting at the neck and ending at the tail. Turn the turkey right-side up. Stuff the cooled stuffing loosely into the cavity and stitch the opening shut. Tie the ends of the drumsticks together with twine and form the turkey into a natural turkey shape; tie lengths of twine around the turkey to secure it.
7. Put the turkey on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Put the roasting pan on the grill away from the heat, cover the grill, and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers about 170°F, about 3 hours. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay between 350° and 375°F. If you are using charcoal, you will probably have to replenish the coals after the first hour.
8. When the turkey is done, use grill mitts to remove it to a carving board, and cover it with foil to keep warm. Remove the rack from the roasting pan and put the roasting pan on a burner heated to medium. Add the orange juice, broth, and herb blend. Bring to a boil, scraping any brown bits clinging to the bottom of the pan into the liquid. Boil for 5 minutes, remove from the heat, and swirl in the butter. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and strain into a serving dish.
9. To carve the turkey, remove the twine. Remove the legs and wings and cut into sections. Grab one end of the thread that is stitching up the back and pull; it will all come out. Slice the breast in straight slices from end to end; because all of the bones have been removed, you will get perfect slices surrounding a core stuffing. Serve with the pan sauce.
8. Thigh bone