Since we have our festive season in a glorious amount of sunshine, it makes sense to do the traditional thing but with a twist: cook a turkey in a kettle braai. Better still, it leaves your oven free so you can cook other parts of the feast. Last, but certainly not least, the open flame will produce a flavourful and smoky meat.
The enclosed kettle braai acts as a convection oven cooking the bird from all sides to ensure you have an even roast. Aside from getting some of the cooking out of the kitchen and underneath the summer sun, cooking the turkey outside also eliminates that horrible oven clean-up.
Make sure you buy the perfect bird to begin with. A five kilogram turkey is ideal for eight hungry people and better still, you'll have leftovers to pick at the next day. Make sure you choose a self-basting turkey as this will ensure it moistens itself while cooking.
If you buy it frozen, take into account that you'll need to give it time to defrost. We leave our frozen bird in the fridge to slowly defrost over two to three days.
Light the fire
The kettle braai should be cleaned and set up for "indirect" cooking. This means setting coals against opposite sides of the braai and leaving a space in the middle for a drip tray. The drip tray is essential as it aids the cooking process by catching juices as the bird cooks and creating steam to keep the meat moist.
Make sure you have a good amount of coals packed in on each side as the bird needs to cook for over two hours.
Once you have your coals lit, place a clean grid on top and go and prepare the bird.
Clean and dry
You'll need to wash the turkey before you begin seasoning it, so remove the bag of giblets from the cavity and open up the wings and legs for more seasoning surface.
Rinse the bird thoroughly and pat dry with paper towel.
Whisk together: 100 ml sunflower oil, 80 ml fresh orange juice, 1 T sweet chilli sauce, 1 t dried mixed herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff turkey with: 2 oranges quartered (gently squeeze the quarters as you stuff them in), 1 T fresh crushed garlic, 3 to 4 T of sweet chilli sauce, fresh parsley and thyme.
For a personal touch, add a few whole slices of orange to the top of the turkey for decoration.
Baste the turkey: Cover the stuffed turkey with the sauce you whisked together, making sure it is properly smothered. Now that the turkey is basted, season the skin with salt and pepper and a little paprika for added flavour and colour. Tuck the wings and legs back into the turkey (as it came out of the bag), and set aside.
The tin cup: Use a sheet of foil (30 x 30) and mould it into a cup. It's best to use a beer glass as a mould. Make sure your cup can hold a glass (200 to 250 ml) of orange juice.
On the fire: By now the coals are all glowing beautifully, so take your turkey and tin cup out to the fire. Place the bird in the middle of the grid, so that it sits over the drip tray. You can pour any remaining sauce over the bird about an hour into the cooking process just to ensure that it is properly basted.
The magic ingredient: Now place the cup of orange juice just next to the bird. The steaming orange juice helps to keep the bird beautifully moist and the gorgeous perfume from the orange will linger in the meat of the turkey, enhancing flavour.
Put the lid on the braai and make sure all the vents are opened completely.
Cook your bird for about two-and-a-quarter hours.
Hint: Don't keep lifting the lid of the braai as you will lose precious heat this way.