I will be describing this in terms of roasting a turkey, but it works just Jim-dandy for roasting most anything. Although we’ll be using a Weber propane grill, there is nothing whatsoever “grill” or “bbq” about using this method. With that said…
For grilling with smoke in the Weber Propane Grill, see this: http://captbecker.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/grillin-with-smoke-in-a-weber-propane-grill/
For BBQing in the Weber Propane Grill, see this: http://captbecker.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/using-wood-chips-in-a-weber-propane-grill-wpg/
American families have been wrestling with the question of what to do about the Thanksgiving turkey for as long as I can remember. Which is quite a while. A turkey is about the biggest single chunk of anything that most families ever cook in one piece, at one time. It can turn the Thanksgiving dinner preparations into a “dance of the elephants”. Last Thanksgiving I decided to take the whole thing outside, leaving the oven to wife, daughter, and son-in-law so they could do everything else.
In recent years, the outdoor deep-fried turkey has become quite the rage. That option didn’t appeal to me for two reasons. The logistics seemed like quite the effort, getting everything, getting it set up and ready, then disposing of the residue after the cooking was done. The second thing that holds me back from deep-frying a turkey is the only experience I’ve ever actually had being served deep-fried turkey, it was burned to a crisp on the outside and raw/bloody in the middle. And of course, there’s always the chance to burn down your whole neighborhood (I do believe that the Cajuns who started this lived in the country, far from their neighbors). And some folks just like a traditional roasted turkey.
So I set about creating a suitable outdoor facility for brining the turkey overnight, and cooking the turkey the next day. BTW, do not consider cooking a whole turkey unless you brine it! The brining simply transforms the result. The brining was easy. A gallon of ice cold brine (salt, sugar, pepper corns, bay leaf, a little of this, a little of that). A clean plastic garbage bag. Ten pounds of ice. And one of these:
I start the turkey in the brine 24 hours before show time. Dump the ice into the cool, add cold water until the cooler is about half full. Put the turkey into the clean plastic garbage bag, dunk the bagged turkey into the ice water. Pour the brine into the bag, on top of the turkey, twist the top of the bag to semi-seal. If necessary, add more cold water and ice to cover the bird. Close the top of the cooler and give it 24 hours in a cool place, away from direct sunlight. Check 2-3 times to make sure the ice is holding up and the temperature is staying down.
Now, to convert your Weber propane grill into an outdoor oven suitable for roasting a 22lb turkey or other large chunk of whatever, first remove the cooking grates. You will leave the “flavorizer” bars in place, so your grill now looks something like this (although probably cleaner and shinier, this grill is a 10 year veteran):
Next, you will need a couple of components to form the floor of the oven. We are trying to even out the heat, prevent direct contact between the bottom of the roasting pan and the flame, and provide a stable working surface. A 12X17 steel baking sheet and a perforated grill topper or other similar device will do the trick:
Assembled into the grill box:
And with the roasting pan and roasting rack added (ready for the turkey). I recommend keeping 1/2″ or so or water, wine, or other liquid in the roasting pan throughout cooking. If you want to make pan gravy from the dripping, you can time it so the pan dries out just as cooking completes:
I was going to buy a turkey, cook it, and get pictures for you, because I generally hate cutting corners. But that is quite a fair bit of work, what with everything else I have going on. So I’m going to post a cell phone camera pic I took of the Thanksgiving bird after two hours at 325 degrees.
After this pic, I rotated the bird and gave it another two and a half hours. You’ll notice the remote read thermometer stuck into the thigh, we want to see 170 degrees on that (the FDA says 165 minimum, I give it an extra 5 degrees):
The foil on the wings is to keep them from turning to charcoal. I actually did a “practise” bird the day before Thanksgiving, it came out so good that I sliced and kept the breast meat (the rest went into the stock pot). The Thanksgiving bird was good enough that we really did need the breast meet I’d kept from the day before to feed everyone.
With a setup like this, you’ll be able to roast big stuff outside and leave the kitchen for the prep work. Although I mentioned that this method of using the Weber really has nothing to do with grilling or bbqing, if you want, you can throw a small handful of wood chips onto the baking sheet and you will introduce some woodsmoke into the process.
I hope this helps someone out. I’ll tell you that on Thanksgiving, several of the guys who were over with their families (we had 25 or 30 people) looked at this rig, scrunched their eyes, and looked at me like I was crazy. But the results spoke for themselves.
G’day, all, and may God continue to bless America!