Turkey Drums & Wings (SBQ, Ep. 8)

Sometimes you have to branch out from your regular beef, pork, and chicken, but many people are frightened at the prospect of having to cook turkey ANY time.  Most of us only venture into the turkey zone on Thanksgiving, and sweat over the condition of our birds throughout the entire day. "How the fuck do I keep this bird moist?" you might ask.  "This thing tastes like sawdust took a shit in my mouth!" your family may remark.  Well, no more will you compare your poultry to the southbound end of a northbound elephant.  With a bit of time, attention, and even less effort, your turkey will be moist, smoky, and rigoddamndiculously delicious.

What you will need:

  • About 8 turkey drums & wings, completely thawed (the whole bird works, but you will have to keep a closer eye on it over time)
  • One very large sweet onion
  • Olive oil and/or butter
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • High-quality or raw honey
  • Black pepper
  • White pepper
  • Salt
  • Brown sugar
  • Ground Mustard
  • Sage
  • Two cubes of chicken/turkey bouillon (dry stock base)
  • Apple Juice
  • Fruitwood and/or hickory wood, grill/smoker (oven without wood)
  • High-power blender or food processor

How you do it:

  1. Roughly chop your onion, and put it in your blender with a bit of salt, a healthy dose of white & black pepper, a teaspoon or two of sage, ditto of ground mustard, 3/4-cup or so of red wine vineger, both bouillon cubes, and 4 Tbsp. of olive oil.  If you want butter, just throw some thin tabs in (~1/2 Tbsp.).
  2. Blend this whole mixture into a finely textured goop.  It should be mildly runny, so adjust the viscosity (aka "runny-ishness") with slow pours of olive oil and vinegar (a little bit adds a lot; be careful!).
  3. Take a thin pick or fork and poke a few holes throughout each piece of turkey.  Poke only where there are pockets of actual flesh, and make sure you get through the tough-ass skin. Put the turkey into gallon-sized zipper bags, leaving room for airtight closure.  For 4 people, you'll probably fill 2 or 3 zipper bags.
  4. Evenly distribute your goopy marinade between the zipper bags, covering the turkey within each.  Release as much air as possible as you zip them shut.  Massage the marinade into your turkey through the bags, and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (all day or overnight is best).  Every hour or two, re-massage and flip your bags in the fridge.
  5. After the gobblers are well-soaked in the onion "gravy", get your BBQ pit real hot (350-400 deg.-F).  Get a large baking tray or tin (something you don't mind getting grill-marked, with walls at least 1/4-inch high) and fill it with your turkey parts, then cover them with the remaining marinade from your zipper bags.  Put the turkey into your pit, and let it ride at this temperature for at least 35 minutes before opening the lid again.
  6. While this first timer counts down on your turkey, and you're keeping a good eye on your fire if that's your primary heat source, it's time to get your mopping liquid together.  In a small saucepan, heat a few cups of apple juice, a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar, a few Tbsp. of honey, a bit of salt & pepper, and let it simmer until the texture is uniform and liquidy.  If you like spicy, you can add a pinch of red pepper for bite.
  7. Use a basting brush, spray bottle, or basting squirter to apply this mop to your turkey.  Do this first after the initial 35-40-minute mark, and every 15-20 minutes thereafter.  As you mop, be sure to rotate any turkey that looks darker to the bottom of the pile, and lighter-colored pieces to the top.
  8. Provided that your fire's heat is pretty constant, our turkey should be ready to temperature-check after 2-2.5 hours.  Your thermometer should read 165-175 degrees-F., and the outside skin should have taken on a golden-mahogany color.  Some minor charring is okay.  If you don't have, or don't trust, your thermometer, take a long pick and jab it into the areas with the thickest flesh; when you remove the pick, the resulting juice should run out completely clear, maybe slightly yellowish.  RED liquid is BAD, and you should keep the turkey on a while longer.
  9. Remove your turkey from the pit, cover the whole baking pan in foil, and let it rest back in the pit with the airways closed (to extinguish your fire).  You could let it rest on the counter instead, but keep an eye on it so you don't lose too much heat, and keep the foil wrapped tightly over any airways.  You are READY TO EAT once the turkey has rested for at least 10-15 minutes.  GOBBLE GOBBLE, motherfucker.

STAR-B-BREW:  Fode, Beed, and Perkins enjoyed their drums & wings with a few cold Dogfish Head 60-minute IPAs.