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St. Peter's group barbecues turkeys for charity - (and shares some of their secrets!)


Last updated 10/18/2007 at Noon

The Knights of Columbus men’s group from St. Peter’s Catholic Church barbecued nine 20-pound turkeys for their annual Western Harvest Barbecue dinner on Saturday, October 13.

The roasted turkeys were the main course, and guests were also served corn on the cob, a garden salad, barbecued beans, cornbread and apple pies. The cornbread and apple pies were homemade by women in the church.

Chris Nolte, a Knights of Columbus member, said, “It’s all about making money so we can give it away.” Some of the groups that benefit are REINS, Birth Choice and St. Peter’s Catholic School.

“We are an international group that is 150 years old,” Nolte continued, “and we raise about $2 billion annually.”

This is the third year for the barbecue. Prior to the Harvest event the group had scheduled an Octoberfest but decided that there was too much competition.

On Saturday morning, bright and early, members of the Knights of Columbus were preparing and barbecuing the turkeys.

Tom Rossi was hard at work in the kitchen preparing the turkeys for the barbecue. He washed them thoroughly and cut off the neck flap. When asked why he would spend a Saturday morning washing nine turkeys he replied, “I do it because I am retired and I love Jesus Christ and the Knights of Columbus is such a great group – it gives to so many charitable organizations!”

The turkeys are not only barbecued but smoked with hickory wood that is first soaked in water. “The turkeys are more tender and flavorful when barbecued this way,” said Hector Zamora, who was serving as head chef on Saturday.

Zamora has been barbecuing turkeys for about eight years and even participated in some turkey cook-offs. He first soaks the hickory chips in a bowl of water, then places them on top of the charcoal bricks, which have already been ignited.

Why soak the wood chips? “It makes the wood burn longer,” Zamora explained, “and gives it more of a smoldering, smoked effect.”

Zamora then places a pan filled with water on the charcoal and wood chips and adds seasoning to the water “so the turkeys don’t dry out.” The seasoning consists of chicken bouillon and Worcestershire sauce.

“The turkeys are placed off-center from the flames for an indirect smoking process,” Zamora noted.

He recommends cutting off the neck flap so the heat will circulate throughout the un-stuffed turkey. Zamora monitors the heat and checks the turkeys after about three hours. It takes four-and-a-half to five hours to grill a turkey.

The men raved so about how tender and flavorful the barbecued meat was that I think I will go home and try smoking my own turkey!

Look for the group’s Lenten Fish Frys next spring. “They bring in fresh fish and serve it with hushpuppies,” said one parishioner. “It’s really good!”


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