Montana Grills

Recipes - Poultry - Brined Turkey with Red Chile Sauce and Jicama-Cranberry Relish


  • 1 12 to 14 lbs turkey (well rinsed, giblets removed)
  • 2 gal water
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 peeled & crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp dried marjoram sprigs
  • 1 tbsp dried leaf thyme
  • 10 - 12 bay leaves
  • 2 cups Mesquite Smoking Chips soaked in water for about 5 minutes

Red Chile Sauce Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 12 medium dried ancho chile peppers (stemmed, seeded and torn into flat pieces)
  • 6 garlic cloves (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp fresh ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground cloves
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • 4 cups turkey broth (use the turkey's neck & giblets to make the broth)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 - 3 tbsp sugar

Jicama-Cranberry Relish Ingredients

  • 1 large finely diced red onion
  • 1½ cups finely diced peeled jicama
  • ½ cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • salt
  • 6 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro


If the turkey has a metal clamp on its legs, remove it. Place two large food-safe plastic bags in a large, clean, deep dishpan or plastic bucket. Add 1 gallon of the water, the sugar, salt and pepper flakes. Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the remaining gallon of water and mix. Place the turkey in the mixture breast side down making sure it is completely covered in brine. Squeeze the air out of the bag and tie it shut. Refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.

Prepare a grill for indirect cooking between 250° F and 325° F. When the grill is ready, add some of the soaked smoking chips chips directly to the charcoal in a charcoal grill, or if using a gas grill use your Smokerin™ smoker box. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat thoroughly dry with paper towel. If you are not cooking the turkey at this point, place it in the outer baking bag, which should be dry and clean, store it in the refrigerator and discard the brine. Rub the inside of the turkey cavity with the crushed garlic. Stuff the herbs and bay leaves inside, and then tie the legs together with a cotton string.

Set the turkey in the pan on the cooking grate. Pour 1 cup water around the turkey into the pan. Close the grill and cook over medium heat. To maintain an even temperature with a charcoal grill, add more charcoal regularly (usually a few pieces every half hour or so). Keep adding smoking chips as desired to give smokiness.

Check the turkey periodically, you may want to cover the wing tips and/or the whole turkey to prevent the skin from getting too brown. The turkey is done when its juices run clear and the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is about 170° F. Estimate about 12 to 14 minutes per pound, typically 2½ to 3 hours. Remove the turkey from the grill, cover loosely with foil and let stand 15 minutes. The temperature will rise 5° - 10° F as the turkey rests. Carve the turkey, arrange on a warm platter and serve with the warm Red Chile Sauce (instructions below) and the Jicama-Cranberry Relish (instructions below).

Red Chile Sauce Instructions

Measure the oil into a large skillet and set over medium heat. When hot, oil-toast the chiles 1 or 2 pieces at a time until very toasty smelling and blistered, only a few seconds per side. Pour off all but a generous film of oil from the skillet and set aside. Transfer the chiles to a large bowl and measure in 4 cups hot tap water; a small plate on top will keep the chiles submerged. Let rehydrate for about 20 minutes.

Measure the garlic, oregano, black pepper, cumin, cloves and vinegar into a blender or food processor. Add the rehydrated chiles and enough of the soaking liquid to allow the mixture to puree easily (do this in two batches if necessary). Process the mixture to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh strainer set over a bowl.

Set the chile-frying skillet over medium heat. When quite hot, add the adobo and stir until reduced to the thickness of tomato paste, about 10 to 20 minutes. Stir in the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or so. The finished sauce should be quite light in texture - not watery, but just one stage thicker. A good test is to pour a little on a plate and watch it spread: if it flows evenly, it's right; if it doesn't flow much and water begins separating around the edges, it's too thick. Season with salt and sugar - it should be a little sweet and sour with a hint of saltiness. Serve warm. The finished sauce will keep for days if refrigerated and well covered.

Jicama-Cranberry Relish Instructions

Combine the chopped onion, jicama, dried cranberries, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Taste and season with a little salt. Stir in the cilantro. The jicama relish is best made within a couple of hours of dinner.