This recipe was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, June 10, 2004.

Grill-smoked turkey thigh

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

1 turkey thigh, skin on and bone in
Olive oil
Aromatic wood chunks


1. Start charcoal and give it sufficient time to light fully, the coals hot and covered with light gray ash. As noted in today's article, a "chimney starter" is the ideal way to light charcoal, and for this long, slow cooking technique, briquettes are perfectly satisfactory and may be preferable to quick-burning chunk charcoal. Put a few chunks of hardwood hickory, mesquite, or other aromatic wood of your choice into a bowl of water to soak for a half-hour or so.

2. Rinse and dry the turkey thigh. Rub it with a little olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. When the coals are ready, set up your grill for direct and indirect heating, placing all the coals in a pile on one side (or in a circle), leaving the other side (or the center) clear. Drop one or two chunks of soaked aromatic wood on the coals.

4. Place the turkey thigh directly over the hot coals, skin-side down, and sear it, with the lid up, until the skin starts to turn crisp and brown, two to five minutes depending on heat. Turn it over and sear the other side for two or three minutes, watching carefully to ensure that it doesn't char.

5. Move the turkey to the indirect side of the grill, where it is not directly over the coals. Put on the lid, taking care to position the vents so natural air currents will direct smoke and warmth from the coals past the meat toward the vents.

6. Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours - slower is better - checking occasionally to turn the meat over and rotate it so all sides eventually face the fire, moving it closer or farther from the coals if it seems to be cooking too quickly or slowly, replenishing coals and wood chunks as needed. The thigh is done when no pink color remains and the juices run clear. It's not a bad idea to check with a meat thermometer, taking care to place it in the middle of the meat, not touching the bone. (Food-safety experts recommend cooking turkey thighs to an internal temperature of 180F, which seems a little overdone to me, but if you get sick, don't say I didn't tell you this ...)

7. Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for a few minutes before slicing thin and serving.

MATCHING WINE: This wine-friendly grilled dish would work well with a dry, herbal red or a full-bodied white. It was excellent with the modest, Merlot-like Calina 2001 Maule Valley Carmenere from Chile that was featured in Monday's 30 Second Wine Advisor.