Recipe: Thanksgiving turkey with a twist

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HARTFORD - George Giotsas is the owner of Little Mark’s Big BBQ in Vernon and he visited FOX 61's Good Day Connecticut to tell us his process for cooking a Thanksgiving turkey, with a twist.

His secret to the flavor and success of the traditional recipe is in the brining process.

Little Mark’s Holiday “Turkey with a Twist” Recipe

Ingredients
Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons garlic power
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons paprika
  • 2 cups brown sugar

Turkey Brine:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 cups salt
  • 3 cups apple juice
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 (14-pound) turkey
  • Olive oil

BBQ Gravy:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Drumstick, from turkey
  • Neck, from turkey
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 8 cups turkey stock or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup BBQ Sauce (recommended: Little Mark’s Big BBQ KC Sweet Sauce)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Process:
For the rub:
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and reserve.

For the brine:
Mix the water, salt, apple juice, bourbon, peppercorn, and sugar into a 5-gallon bucket lined with a resealable bag. Stir until the salt and sugar is dissolved. Add the turkey into the bag with the brine. In a garbage bag-lined ice chest filled with ice, place the bucket in and surround with ice. Keep in a cool place and let brine 6 hours or overnight. Turn the turkey after 3 hours. Remove turkey from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.Rub the turkey with olive oil and massage the rub onto the turkey.

Soak wood chips for 1 hour prior to cooking the turkey and drain well. Fill the chimney starter with charcoal and light. Burn until they ash over. Place the burned coals on 1 side of the grill. Place wood chips on top of coals. Line a standard size loaf pan with aluminum foil and fill 2/3 with water. Place in the grill opposite the coals.

Take the turkey and place on the grill over the pan of water. Insert a probe thermometer in the thigh to keep a check on the temperature as it cooks. Place the lid on the grill with the vent open.

The temperature should remain constant at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to add more coals and chips every few hours.

After 1 hour check the turkey, if the skin is golden brown cover with foil. Continue cooking for 4-6 more hours or until a probe thermometer reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove from the oven and let rest 20 minutes before you carve. Serve with BBQ gravy.

BBQ Gravy:
Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the drumstick and neck and sear until brown. Remove from pan and reserve.

Lower heat and saute the onions. Add the stock, scrapping up the fond on the bottom of the pan. Add the drumstick and neck into the saucepan. Cover and let simmer until it comes to a boil; about 1 hour. Sauce will reduce down greatly. Remove turkey parts. Add BBQ sauce to pan and whisk together. Gravy will thicken. Season with salt and pepper.