The Holidays are in full swing! If you are feeling really bold and want to try your hand at smoking your own turkey here are a few tips to make it all happen.
Things to think about when selecting a turkey:
Size, the grade, allow for the proper prep time and cleaning. On average you want to consider 1 lb per person which will allow for some leftovers. We only use grade A turkeys that are health and free of feathers and no broken bones. Allow 24 hours of defrosting for every 4 - 5 lbs. For example, if you have 20 lb. turkey, it will take approximately 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. You can also get a thawed refrigerated turkey but be sure to use it by the expiration date on the package. Turkeys with the plastic pop-up timers are always nice, but it is also good to have a meat thermometer handy as well.
Things to think about when cleaning your turkey:
Be sure that the turkey is fully thawed before you begin to clean it. Once thawed, remove the neck and giblets. Leave the inside of the turkey hollow for now and rinse the inside of the turkey. Be sure to drain all of the excess water by holding the turkey over the sink. Then place it into your brine bucket.
Things to think about when preparing the brine:
Be sure to use a food-grade bucket for the brining of your turkey. Also, we don’t recommend you brine a turkey that has already been injected. Here is a suggested brine receipt that we have used in the past. For a 20 lb. turkey you will use:
1 gallon of ice water
1 gallon of vegetable broth
1 ½ cups of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of rosemary
1 tablespoon of thyme
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 tablespoon of black pepper
3 to 4 garlic cloves
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of Worcester
Once you have placed your turkey into the bucket, add all of your ingredients to the bucket and ensure that it covers the enter turkey. Place with a lid in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days prior to smoking.
Additional ingredients for your brine might be apple cider vinegar and lemon.
Things to think about when smoking your turkey:
Remove from brine and place on roasting pan or foil pan so long as it will hold the juices of your turkey. Using fresh herbs listed above into the cavity of the turkey. Mix a compound butter with the herbs listed above and then rub the compound mix under the skin, inside the cavity, and on the skin of the turkey covering it fully. Recommended wood to use when smoking a turkey. We use a blend of Mesquite, Hickory, and Cherry. This totally is your choice and wait flavor you want your turkey to have. Rule of thumb, Hickory creates a sweet but bacon flavor, Mesquite is more of an earthy flavor that is good on red dark meat, Pecan has a fruity flavor, Cherry has a sweet mild fruity flavor, Apple has a nild sweet that is good on poultry. At 225 degrees, expect a 20 lb. turkey to take 7 to 8 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees at the thickest part which is the breast.
Once you take the turkey out of the smoker it will continue to cook and your temperature will reach 170. On average you can figure 35 – 40 minutes for every pound. It’s good to lather the dripping from the turkey throughout the course of the cook to keep it moist. During the last 1 hour of your smoke, spread butter and some brown sugar on the skin to give it that brownish color everyone is looking for. Once complete cover in order to allow the turkey to rest and complete the cooking process. Be sure to keep the temperature within the serving range. Allow to rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes before serving.