As promised, here are the instructions for making an outdoor turkey cooker and for added benefit, how to use it. 🙂
The outdoor Turkey Cooker is a radiant heat oven that you use to cook a turkey. It is heated with charcoal briquettes.
MAKING THE COMPONENTS FOR THE COOKER
Materials you will need are as follows:
You will need a fairly good sized roll of aluminum foil. The wider the roll; the better. You will also need three 8 foot long poles. We used 2″ x 2″ purchased at Home Depot. A six foot length of small link chain is going to be needed to suspend your turkey. A stainless steel hook for holding your turkey while it is suspended in the oven. Additionally, you will need to have four rebar poles, or reasonable substitutes and they should be about 40″ in length. The hardest part of the construction will be the four mesh (chicken wire) cylinders that will be used to house the burning charcoal briquettes. For these you will need to measure and cut the mesh then fold the remaining tabs to the other side to give it stability as a cylinder. Also, in the picture below, see the wire fasteners that will be used to slide the cylinders over the rebar posts. You will also need to aluminum trays. One for starting your briquettes, and another to use as a drip tray for your turkey. You will also need a coil of wire that you can use to give the walls of your tinfoil oven some stability.
You will need two large bags of charcoal briquettes and some tongs for transferring them from the fire tray to the cooking cylinders.
BRINE THE TURKEY
To get an uber awesome flavour for your turkey, we recommend letting it have a long bath in a brine. Once you go brine, you never go back. Here is “Joe’s Turkey Brine Recipe”
- 1 gallon low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 gallon apple cider
- 1/2 gallon apple juice
- 2 quarts water
- 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons poultry seasoning
- 3 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon rubbed dried sage
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
In a large stock pot over medium heat, pour in the vegetable broth, apple cider, apple juice, and water; stir in kosher salt, poultry seasoning, onion powder, black pepper, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until all salt has dissolved, and boil for 30 minutes to extract flavors from herbs. Remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature before using as a turkey brine; allow brined turkey to marinate overnight.
Info for this Brine is from:
GAME DAY – ASSEMBLE COOKER AND ROAST THE BEAST
Assemble your turkey cooker. First you will need a patch of ground where you will be cooking the beast. The four rebar posts will be 34″ apart from each other. Make sure you pound them deep enough into the ground to give your oven stability. As the briquettes burn down in the cylinders, the ground underneath will get scorched. The last time we did this we used small chunks of drywall on the bottom to provide a heat buffer. Once the posts are secured at the appropriate distance, you can slide on the mesh cylinders and make sure them are secured to the posts. Now, layer the bottom of your radiant oven with tinfoil. Always keep the shiny side facing inward as it will be more efficient for radiating the heat towards your turkey
At this point you are ready to take your roll of tinfoil and construct the walls of your oven. Start at the bottom and keep circling the oven to create the four walls. We suggest a couple of layers of tinfoil to make sure the walls are stable and more resistance to the wind. Once you have wrapped the outside to create four walls that are the full height of your cylinders, you should use the wire to add some additional stability. Again, circle the walls of the oven on the outside with the wire to give the walls a bit more strength and resilience to the wind.
Now the oven is built. Set your trip tray in the bottom and we will now focus on setting up the tripod. The three 8′ poles should be secured at the top to make a solid tripod that can easily and safely suspend a 25lb turkey. Once the tripod is set u, you can attach the chain that will suspend the bird and you are close to being ready to cook the beast.
At this point I should mention that it is important to start the briquettes early to give them a chance to start burning. We use a separate aluminum tray for this. If you have a firepit handy, that would be an efficient way to start them. Once the briquettes start burning, you can transfer them to the four cooking cylinders. Transfer them evenly to the cooking cylinders so the heat will be even to the bird.
Put the turkey on the turkey hook and suspend it in the radiant oven. Adjust the chain length / tripod to make sure the turkey is centered and a few inches above the drip pan.
Now. it is a matter of making sure the cylinders are filled as they burn down. Remember to have a staging tray to pre-ignite the briquettes. That will make things smoother and quicker. Also, you will have to tap the rebar posts / cylinders to shake loose ash to the bottom and allow the briquettes to drop into the cylinder. by keeping the cylinders free of ash and constantly full of briquettes, you will generate more heat and cook the bird quicker. At some point you made need a long stick or pole to brush some of the fallen ash away from the bottom of each cylinder so it does not block the heat from the burning briquettes.
Note: We cooked what we believe to be about a 25lb in exactly 3.5hrs the last time we did this. That is a great cook rate and the turkey was incredibly tasty.
One last thing, it is important to have two bottles of white wine chilled. One to open with your meal and the other to drink while cooking.