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From Grill to Table

Year-round outdoor cooking is on the rise as consumers are becoming more adventurous chefs, forgoing the oven or stove-top and opting for turkey and trimmings cooked on the grill, smoker or fryer. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), 62 percent of consumers are cooking outdoors year-round and 15 percent are cooking part of their Thanksgiving meals outside, up 9 percent from 2009. Whether it’s for the convenience, minimal cleanup or crisp fresh air, consumers are willing to prepare the entire Thanksgiving meal – from the turkey to desserts – outdoors.

“As the popularity of year-round outdoor cooking continues to grow, so does our appetite to try new techniques, gadgets and recipes – even for Thanksgiving,” said Leslie Wheeler, HPBA communications director. “This holiday season, be adventurous and try cooking your turkey and classic side dishes outside for a convenient, flavorful and healthy way to prepare your holiday feast.”

Along with new techniques, gadgets and recipes, Americans agree that there are many reasons they are cooking outdoors this holiday season – and all year round – according to new State of the Barbecue Industry report findings. Consumers say they’ll cook outdoors for:

  • More flavorful food preparation (58 percent),
  • Cost savings compared to eating out (47 percent),
  • Healthier preparation (38 percent),
  • Less cooking time compared to oven recipes (24 percent)

HPBA and National Turkey Federation offer the following preparation and cooking tips to ensure a safe and delicious meal:

Turkey Time

  • Purchase a whole turkey according to the weight recommendations in your grill, smoker or fryer owner’s manual.
  • Thaw the turkey completely and pat it dry. Cook the bird un-stuffed.
  • Brine the turkey for increased flavor and moisture.
  • Outdoor cooking times depend on many factors: the size and shape of the turkey, the distance from the heat and the outside air temperature. Allow more time on cold or windy days and at high altitudes. Allow less time in very hot weather.
  • Have a food thermometer handy to measure the internal temperature of the bird; the temperature should be 165 degrees, but most people prefer it to reach 170 degress in the breast and 180 degrees in the thigh.

Safety First

  • Check to make sure the grill, smoker or fryer is in working order.
  • Be sure to read the owner’s manual for safety precautions.
  • Stock up on enough charcoal, propane, oil or wood chips needed to cook the meal.
  • Be sure to use the grill, smoker or fryer outside only – never indoors – and make sure that it’s set-up on a flat, stable surface, preferably on a protective grill pad, and away from any combustible materials.

Savory Grilled Turkey recipe

Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.