Tokyo Turkey


Roasting turkeys on the grill can be somewhat of a challenge, especially if your family (like mine) has many members. After trying to roast 14-16 lb turkeys on the kettle, wrestling to push the coals to the sides as much as possible, I decided to give myself a break this year and slow cook it with the Weber Smokey Mountain.

The best part is, you don't have to watch it so close because the cooking is almost totally indirect. You can baste with different sauces, even some that contain high sugar ingredients like: molasses, honey and agave, without fear of burning.

This recipe takes the traditional set up of the smokey mountain, but eliminates the addition of water in the pan. Removing the water helps to crisp the skin up as much as possible, just like roasting in the oven!

Tokyo Turkey
By Matt Jost, Weber Grill Restaurant Chef

Special equipment:
Large pot (about 4 gallons) and a place in the refrigerator big enough to hold it
Basting brush
Large plastic bag
WSM Smoker - line the water pan with foil
Good instant read thermometer

1 each 14-16 lb turkey, fully defrosted, neck and giblets removed
2 gallons  water ( separate in half)
3 cups Mirin wine
4 oz ginger, sliced into thick slices
1 bunch green onions, chopped roughly
4-5 ea  star anise, whole (optional)
3-4 sticks cinnamon, whole (optional)
2 cup Sake
2 cup kosher salt (large grain salt)
1 cup  granulated sugar

1 large can Sapporo beer (remove about 1/2 the beer)
As needed Olive oil
As needed Weber seasoning
2 large chunks cherry wood
2-3 cups good teriyaki glaze sauce


1. Warm up 1 gallon of water, sugar, salt, ginger, green onion, mirin, sake and spices in a large pot. Do not boil, just heat enough to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the second gallon of water (mix with some ice - but only 1 gallon total of water and ice) to chill the brine down quickly. After the brine has chilled to below 70F, it is ready to use.

2. Line the large pot with the plastic bag and place the turkey in it, legs sticking up. Pour as much brine as you can into the pot, to  completely cover the turkey. Cinch the bag shut, pushing as much of the air out as possible - this will help the brine soak into the turkey better. Place the turkey in the cooler for 24 hours. Mark the pot with tape when you put it in, this will help to know when to take it out.

3. Once the turkey has brined for 24 hours, remove from the pot and rinse briefly with cold water. Place the turkey on a large pan and blot it dry with paper towels as best as you can. Then, ball up a piece of foil to about baseball shape and stuff it into the turkey as far as possible. This will help the turkey sit on the can better without slouching. Sit the turkey on the can and push down slightly to "set" the can into the ball of foil. The turkey should be pretty stable at this point. (If the turkey is too large or for some reason has trouble standing upright, you can also use a Weber chicken roaster, also filled with Sapporo, as a sturdy base.)

4. Rub the turkey with olive oil and sprinkle all over with the season salt.

5. Set up the smoker with 2 chimneys of light charcoal in the bottom and line the water pan with aluminum foil. DO NOT fill with water, this will be a dry cook. Also set the top rack aside, you will not be needing this.

6. Set the turkey in the smoker on the bottom rack, place the chunks of cherry wood on the coals and close the lid. Cook this for about 45 minutes. Your smoker should be at 250 degrees F.

7.  After 45 minutes, brush the turkey all over with 1 cup of the teriyaki glaze. Make sure to get the back and sides as best as you can. Close the lid and cook for another 30 minutes. 

Glaze a second time with 1 cup of glaze and continue cooking until the turkey registers at least 165F in 2-3 places. Take care not to let the thermometer touch the bone when checking the temperature.

8. Once it has come to the proper temperature, remove from the grill and set in a safe place to rest, covered loosely with foil. Let this rest for at least 15 minutes.

This is great with a pumpkin fried rice and some wasabi mashed potatoes! Enjoy!