Sunday, December 4, 2011

Succulent Smoked Turkey: The Thanksgiving Series, Number One

As Griller Instinct begins its Thanksgiving series, we wanted to dive right in and give you the item that we and our holiday guests were most thankful for: Succulent Smoked Turkey 

Now, I'm sure many of you are asking yourselves, "Why would you smoke a turkey, let alone do it for Thanksgiving?"

1. After having dozens of people over for Thanksgiving, and having made turkey many ways, smoked is the overall favorite. 

2. Smoking a turkey leaves room in the oven for other stuff. 

3. The carcass makes kick ass turkey soup.

Be forewarned: Smoking a turkey is a three part process, but it's a labor of love and like most of the recipes you've tried so far, your guests will appreciate your effort. 

Step 1: Brine the Turkey.  Brining is important as the turkey absorbs the brine flavor while allowing the meat to stay very moist during the cooking process.  For a 15-20 lb turkey, you need to make 2.5 gallons of brine, and as it takes about 12 hours to fully cool, the brine should be made ahead of time (1-5 days).  Once the brine is at refrigerator temperature, add the bird and let it soak for 12-24 hours.  The longer it soaks, the more brine will be absorbed into the meat.  When you are ready to smoke the bird, pull it out, rinse it off, and pat it dry.  Here is the brine recipe.

Step 2: Smoke the Turkey.  Soak some wood chips (I find that Apple goes very well with turkey) and bring your smoker to 325 degrees.  Add the chips and to the smoker place the bird inside with a pan underneath.  This will catch drippings that you will use to baste the bird as it smokes, and if you choose to afterwards it can be used to make a killer gravy. To create a starter baste, I like to put some butter (1 stick), broth (I use 2 cups chicken broth, but any kind will do), a beer (12 oz), and the gizzards (finally, they are good for something other than scaring the kids!) into the pan.  Smoke the turkey for 15-17 minutes per pound, or until the thermometer pops out of the breast.  Baste every 30-45 minutes.  When it's done, wrap with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Step 3: Make the Gravy.  I use the turkey baster to suck about 3/4 of the liquid out of the pan 30 minutes before I think the turkey is done.  This is your gravy base.  The liquid will have a heavy smokey flavor, so you will need to cut it with more broth before you reduce it.  Here is the gravy recipe.

This is the complete Thanksgiving video.  You will see everything we made, including the Succulent Smoked Turkey.

Next week, I'll pass along a recipe for Brussels Sprouts your kids will actually eat.  You won't want to miss it.

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