If ever there was a perfect time to have friends and family together, it’s Thanksgiving.
At that time of year, we are not just giving thanks for the amazing food that we have available in the USA.
This is also a perfect time to celebrate the love, family and friendships we are lucky to have in our life.
I love grilling on Thanksgiving.
The extra effort required, rather than just using your kitchen range, shows that you truly appreciate both food and family.
This article will help you put together the perfect Thanksgiving event that will be remembered for years to come. Importantly, it contains a tasty grilling recipe for that essential centerpiece of this holiday, the turkey.
Why Have a Thanksgiving BBQ?
In our day-to-day busy schedules, time pressures often make it difficult to actually appreciate our food.
We buy processed meals, microwave dishes and pre-packed food. These are sometimes just cooked without thought, and then eaten in front of the TV.
Taking time to use the grill does involve more effort.
However, this provides personal satisfaction and the admiration of family and friends. They see that time and thought have gone into the Thanksgiving meal.
In addition, I always feel that grilling on Thanksgiving is a much more traditional way of preparing food.
On that first Thanksgiving in 1621, the Pilgrims and Native Americans had no access to microwaves, ovens or pre-prepared foods. Grilling is probably the closest thing to an actual recreation of that historic day.
However, this is not to say that modern methods don’t have a place.
If you have a pellet grill, then by all means use it.
Furthermore, with the amount of food that needs to be cooked, using your kitchen stovetop and oven as a backup may be essential.
But using the grill for the key elements of your holiday dinner will provide an authentic feel. And it will be a delicious change of pace. It may also make you appreciate that very first Thanksgiving more.
Thanksgiving BBQ Considerations
Unless you live in an extremely temperate area, there’s a good chance that the fourth Thursday in November will be cold.
This raises some challenges for the grill chef, but none that are impossible to overcome.
Don’t let it deter you from your Thanksgiving grill.
The biggest challenge is that you will be cooking outside.
If you have a garage, it is possible to open the doors as wide as possible and cook just inside the entrance.
However, if you choose this method, always ensure there is adequate ventilation.
Furthermore, garages are notorious for flammable materials - rags, oil and paint.
Always keep the grill away from these items, or better, remove them from the garage entirely.
Whether in the doorway of your garage or outside, here are some tips for late-November grilling.
Make sure you have enough light.
It can become dark very quickly in winter. Good outside lighting and a flashlight will help make the whole process easier.
Some modern grills are even equipped with lights. Complete as much preparation as you can inside, before going out to grill.
If it is close to freezing outside, ensure that you salt the grilling area and pathway to the house.
Slippages near the grill are very dangerous. In addition, you don’t want that perfectly cooked turkey ending up on the ground.
Warm clothing is essential, despite standing in front of a hot grill. Take time to ensure that there are no loose items, such as scarves, that could catch fire.
Also remember that your winter gloves are not grilling gloves. Whenever cooking, use oven gloves that are particularly suited for this.
Ideally, for winter cooking your grill should have a lid.
Try to raise it as little as possible to prevent the loss of heat. Use a watch to monitor food cooking time, or choose a grill with a timer attached.
Thanksgiving cooking can be a long process, especially with a turkey.
It would be a disaster if you ran out of charcoal or gas during the grilling. Ensure that you have sufficient fuel in reserve to prevent disappointment.
Thanksgiving BBQ Recipes
The perfect Thanksgiving meal is all about top quality, perfectly cooked food.
Below are a few recipes to make it a complete success, starting with the essential grilled turkey.
Spatchcocked Orange and Herb Thanksgiving Turkey
This recipe does call for a little bit of time, quite a few ingredients, and preparation in advance.
You will need to start the day before, but the results will be worth it.
Grill time: 3 hours
Preparation/Resting time: 14 hours
This recipe is bound to impress. Everyone will have their smartphones out, taking photos of this tasty centerpiece.
Sausage, Cranberry and Pumpkin Stuffing
This is a flavorsome accompaniment to your spatchcocked turkey. It also looks great and is packed with seasonal pumpkin.
Grill time: 70 minutes total
Preparation/Resting time: 20-25 minutes
This dish can be served on the table in its own serving bowl. Personally, I like to spread it evenly around the turkey platter.
Spicy Potatoes in a Honey Glaze
This is a surprisingly easy and tasty dish as an alternative to the traditional roasted or mashed potatoes.
Grill time: 20 -25minutes
Preparation/Resting time: 20 minutes
As previously mentioned, I suggest that preparation is done in the kitchen, with only the final grilling taking place outside.
A little word of caution. Honey can get extremely hot so there are two things to bear in mind. Always keep an eye on the potatoes while cooking, as it is quite easy to burn them.
Secondly, always allow at least five minutes for the potatoes to cool before serving. This will prevent any burnt lips.
Grilled Brussels Sprouts
My favorite Thanksgiving vegetable is given even more flavor with this quick and easy grilling recipe.
Grill time: 15 minutes
Preparation/Resting time: 5 minutes
If you wish you can cover these sprouts with a little grated cheese of your choice.
This will not be a traditional cookout, as the temperature generally will not allow you and your family to be outside.
However, the flavors that can be created by the grill, and the impact of your turkey centerpiece, will make it all worthwhile.
Just remember to take the safety steps mentioned earlier for winter cooking, and your Thanksgiving grill will be perfect.