Cook a Turkey on a Solaire Infrared Grill

At Christmas I roasted our family’s 15 pound turkey on our 42-inch Solaire Infrared Grill. We have the IRBQ-42C, which does not have the rear infrared rotisserie burner. Not to worry, as you can prepare almost any kind of food on a Solaire – it’s all about managing the heat.

A happy Solaire customer had told me how she brined her turkey at Thanksgiving, so I thought I would give that a try. There are many brine recipes on the web. I combined a couple to create a solution of apple juice, fresh squeezed orange juice, kosher sea salt and various spices. I placed the bird in a 5 gallon bucket and soaked it in the brine solution and ice overnight, turning the turkey over once during the night. Brining is supposed to add moisture and flavor (in the end, it didn’t hurt to do so).

I then placed the spit rod through the turkey, tied the wings with twine (you don’t want any parts flopping around as it turns) and balanced it as best as I could using the counter-weight. In theory, if you have a perfectly balanced load, a rotisserie motor could turn an unlimited amount of weight. It’s the unbalanced load that creates the strain on the motor. So you want to eliminate as much of the grinding noise you hear as the motor strains to bring the load “over the top”. Balancing the food on the rod as best as you can will lengthen the life of your rotiss motor.

I then preheated all of the burners in my grill for three minutes (that’s all it takes with Solaire Infrared to reach maximum temperature). I coated the bird with olive oil, then mated the bird/spit rod to the motor, directly over one of the burners.

I seared the turkey over the direct infrared high heat for about 15 minutes (or until the juices really start to flow). This really starts the cooking process and is the Solaire Infrared advantage for any type of food you wish to grill. (If your grill has the rear infrared rotisserie burner, turn it on and leave it running during the entire process. The bird will be finished sooner with the additional direct heat, without sacrificing any succulence).

Please note the oven thermometer on the back ledge of the grill. While most Solaire grilling is done with the hood up and air temperature is inconsequential, the next phase of grilling this turkey is aided by having a thermometer. I purchased this one at the grocery store a few years ago for less than $10. It can be placed on the rear or side ledges – it’s just to provide a guideline of the temp when you close the hood during the next phase.

On to the next phase. After searing the bird over the direct infrared heat, now we move to using indirect heat utilizing the BBQ Tray accessory. First turn the burners to two dots up from the lowest setting on the valves. Place the BBQ Tray directly underneath the turkey and fill it with water (I’ve used beer and wine in the past – your choice).

The liquid in the tray serves two functions: (1) It keeps the tray from warping as the direct infrared heat is converted to convected heat; and (2) It steams up into the food, acting as a self-baste to keep the food moist. Then close the hood. After a few minutes, take a peek at the thermometer. You want to achieve around 350 degrees F. Adjust the valves as necessary to achieve and maintain this temperature. Refill the BBQ Tray with liquid as needed, ensuring that it never goes dry. During the cooking you want to adjust the balance as needed to ensure smooth turning.

The bird will get nicely roasted on the outside over time. The true measure of doneness, however, is when the internal temperature in the meaty part of the breast reaches 165-degrees F. Test with an instant-read thermometer (the kind professional chefs keep in their pocket). This 15 pound turkey took close to 2 hours (120 minutes) to do so. When this is achieved, remove the turkey from the grill and let stand (rest) for 20 to 30 minutes before carving (the bird will continue to cook during this time).

This turkey looked great on the outside, and was juicy and flavorful on the inside. But the true test of success is how your guests respond. Please note the plates of these happy teenagers at the “kid’s table.” They ate all of the turkey first, leaving the prime rib and mashed potatoes for last.

Happy Grilling!