Tea-and-Orange-Brined Grilled Turkey

Brew tea with fresh orange, bourbon, sugar and salt for a delicious brine, then grill the turkey with wood chips.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 11 hr 35 min (includes brining time)
  • Active: 3 hr 15 min
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
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Ingredients

One 8- to 10-pound fresh or defrosted frozen turkey (not kosher or self-basting)

5 oranges

2 cups kosher salt

1 cup bourbon

1 cup sugar

12 whole black peppercorns

12 plain tea bags

6 whole cloves

6 bay leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

1 head garlic, halved

1 medium onion, quartered

4 cups wood chips, such as hickory or mesquite, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained

Directions

  1. The day before you plan to cook, remove the neck and giblets from the turkey cavity. Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Remove the zest from the oranges in wide strips using a vegetable peeler, applying only gentle pressure to leave the white pith behind. Put the zest in a very large pot. Squeeze the juice from the oranges and strain into the pot. Combine the salt, bourbon, sugar, peppercorns, tea bags, cloves and 4 of the bay leaves in a very large pot with 2 quarts (8 cups) water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour in 6 cups cold water. Let the brine cool to room temperature. Gently add the turkey to the brine, adding as much cold water to as needed to cover it. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, drain the turkey and pat dry inside and out. Sprinkle the cavity with ground black pepper. Place the garlic, onion and remaining 2 bay leaves inside the cavity. Sprinkle the outside of the bird generously with black pepper.
  3. Prepare an outdoor grill with a medium-high fire for both direct and indirect grilling. Position a drip pan under the grate on the indirect-heat side of the grill. Put the turkey breast-side up over the drip pan. Toss 1 cup of the wood chips onto the coals. Cover the grill and rotate the lid so that the vent holes are directly over the meat. To maintain a medium-low smoky fire, add about a dozen pieces of charcoal and another cup of wood chips to the fire whenever the fire dies down. Rotate the turkey about every 45 minutes to prevent the side near the coals from overcooking. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 165 degrees F, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before carving.