Wild Turkey: A Thanksgiving Feast Outdoors

Don’t spend Thanksgiving Day confined to your kitchen this year.  Instead, power up the grill or light up the fire pit for a Thanksgiving feast that is both equal parts adventurous and delicious. Be it while camping in the woods or in spending time in your backyard, whipping up a Thanksgiving meal outside will be as easy as, well, pie.

Photo: Harris Graber

If you’ve yet to channel your inner cavemen by chowing down on a mammoth-sized turkey leg, here’s your opportunity for a little role-play with this Grilled Turkey Leg recipe from John Offerdahl. Forgo the full bird in favor of handheld pieces of poultry that are just as satisfying but much easier to eat than the traditional spread.


4 turkey legs with skin on
6 cups warm water
6 tablespoons kosher salt

  • Dry Rub:
    1/4 cup smoked paprika
    1/8 cup fresh ground pepper
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/4 cup lemon pepper
    2 tablespoon celery salt
    2 tablespoon onion powder
    2 tablespoon dry mustard
    2 tablespoon lemon zest


1. Dissolve salt in water and pour over turkey legs. Marinate in brine 4 hours. Brining adds moisture and tenderness to the finished product.
2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
3. Mix above ingredients in a bowl and pour onto a large plate.  Remove turkey legs from brine and pat dry. Roll each leg in the dry rub mixture.
4. Coat grill grates with non-stick spray and grill legs over medium-high heat (425˚), turning as needed.  Once skin is crispy and brown, brush with your favorite barbecue sauce and continue grilling until legs reach an internal temperature of 165˚.


Smoke a piece of cardboard and chances are it’ll taste good. Smoke sweet potatoes and you’re guaranteed they’ll taste amazing. Give your side dishes the (meatless!) grill treatment, starting with this Smoked Sweet Potato Mash With Hickory Syrup we found in The Washington Post. The key ingredient here is the hickory syrup, which you can find at farmers’ markets or line, but feel free to swap for maple syrup if you’re in a pinch.  (6-8 servings)

For grilling:

1 grilling tray
1 cup of apple wood, cherry wood or pecan chips, soaked in water for an hour


1 1/2 to 2 pounds (2 large) sweet potatoes, peeled
1/3 cup hickory syrup (may substitute maple syrup)
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Prepare the charcoal grill for indirect heat: Light the coals. For a very hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 1 or 2 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.
2. Rinse the peeled potatoes, quarter them and place them in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are just soft enough to pierce with a fork. Drain.
3. When the fire is hot, drain the wood chips and scatter them on the charcoal.

  • If using a gas grill, place the chips in a smoker box or an aluminum-foil pouch poked with a fork on top to allow smoke to escape. Place the pouch or box on the briquettes or lava rocks. Preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium (350 degrees).

4. Place the drained potatoes in the grilling tray. Position the tray on the far side of the grate, away from the fire. Close the lid on the grill; smoke the potatoes for 20 minutes.
5. Return the potatoes to the large (empty) pot. Use a fork or potato masher to mash them, then add the syrup, cream, butter, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, until warmed through, stirring as needed.


Photo: Grilling with Rich

Though not entirely outdoor-friendly, these half-moon, Grilled Pecan Pies from Fork and Tell can be made ahead of time and grilled directly over hot coals. They cook in just under six minutes so you’ll have a crispy, gooey pecan-and-caramel dessert faster than you would preheat an oven. (8 servings)


1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup cold water
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour for rolling out dough

8 store-bought caramels cut in half
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt 1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon oil


1. Cut butter into ½-inch cubes and refrigerate. Measure the water and refrigerate.
2. In a small mixing bowl add flour and salt and mix well. Add in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Slowly add water, mixing continuously, until a dough ball is formed. Seal the dough ball in GLAD® ClingWrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
3. Sprinkle countertop or cutting board generously with flour. Remove dough from the refrigerator and place onto the floured prep area, roll out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut the dough into 5-to6-inch diameter circles. Removing extra dough from the prep area to reroll and make more pie shells. Immediately peal, lift and flip the dough circles making sure they don’t stick. Yield should be 8 pie shells.
4. Preheat the grill using Kingsford® charcoal, until the internal temperature reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Place 2 caramel halves and 1 tablespoon of pecans onto the center of each dough circle.
6. Combine corn syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan over low heat. Mix until the ingredients are combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg once the mixture has cooled. Chill the filling for 15 minutes or until it has thickened slightly. Add 4 teaspoons of the cold filling mixture over the caramels and pecans onto the center of each dough circle.
7. Lightly moisten the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough in half creating a half moon with peach filling. Gently press the pie edges together and crimp them with a fork.
8. Prep the charcoal grill grate by using a grill brush and to brush on a light coat of oil. Transfer the pies to the grill and cook over direct heat, uncovered, for 3 minutes on each side or until the dough turns a crispy golden brown. Remove from the grill and serve.

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