California Turkey 12.000

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

California Thanksgiving Nov 16, 2011

Rubbing the outside of the turkey with a mixture of garlic, oil and ground sumac gives this grilled bird the Mediterranean flavor that California cooking instructor Linda Capeloto Sendowski loves so much. She makes this recipe year-round. You won't miss cooking with salt or pepper here.

To cook this turkey on the grill, you need to use indirect heat; direct heat would burn the outside before the inside is done.

You'll need kitchen twine and/or small skewers to truss the turkey, and an instant-read thermometer.

Servings: 12 , plus leftovers
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons ground sumac (available in Middle Eastern markets)
  • 16-pound fresh turkey, giblets, neck and any packets removed from inside, patted dry


Combine the oil, garlic and sumac in a mini food processor and puree until smooth, then rub the bird inside and out with all of the mixture. Use kitchen twine or small skewers to truss the turkey, including crossing the legs and tying them at the ankles.

Prepare the gas grill for indirect heat. Remove the center cooking rack and the gas burner cover underneath the rack. Place a disposable aluminum foil pan directly over the center gas burner inside the grill to catch any turkey juices. Return the center cooking rack back in its position, over the drip pan. Preheat to medium-high (450 degrees) for about 20 minutes, with the center burner left unlit and the lid closed.

Open the lid and place the turkey, breast side down, directly over the foil drip pan, breast side down. There should be heat rising on both sides of the bird but not directly beneath it. Close the lid and cook for about 2 hours.

Open the lid; use heatproof kitchen gloves or a clean dish towel or tongs to invert the turkey so it is right side up. Close the lid and cook for about 30 minutes; the turkey should be evenly golden brown, and the temperature of the thigh meat (away from the bone) should register 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Transfer to a platter and let rest for 1 hour before carving.

Turn off the grill. When it has cooled; very carefully remove the foil pan containing the drippings. Pour the drippings into a fat separator cup. Skim off or pour off the fat, discard, and save the juices for serving or for leftovers.

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Recipe Source

From California cooking instructor Linda Capeloto Sendowski.

Tested by Linda Capeloto Sendowski and Sheilah Kaufman.

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