Sunday, November 25, 2012

Smoked Turkey (Recipe)

First, I want to be completely clear that this is not my recipe.  I was just following instructions from the best grilling/BBQ website in the world -- Amazing Ribs.  Below you will find my pics, but no details.  You can find the complete recipe and a ton of useful information about selecting, preparing, cooking (not just grilling or smoking), and carving turkey here:  Meathead's Ultimate Smoked Turkey.

It does seem weird to smoke a turkey just a few days after Thanksgiving while everyone is still eating leftovers.  I wanted to do it for a couple reasons:
  1. I had the opportunity to buy a fresh turkey, which I'd never done before.  It had to be cooked or frozen by Monday, and freezing it would sort of defeat the purpose.
  2. I wanted to cook it in our wood-fired oven.  I've smoked a few turkeys before and while they were pretty good, they weren't so good that I tried the same recipe twice.  Meathead has never led me wrong, so I have no doubt this recipe and these techniques will work.  And I think they should translate well from the grill to the WFO.  We've cooked pork roasts, beef roasts, and chicken in there but never done a turkey.  So why not now?

Fresh turkey from John's Custom Meats.
13.5 pounds.

9" door.
11" turkey.

That's why not.  So much for the pizza oven plan.  It didn't take long to realize that the turkey was not going to fit through the oven door while on the rack.  I'm sure we could slide the pan in first and then get the turkey through the door and in place on the rack, and I'm equally sure I'd drop the bird at least once on the way in or the way out.

Plan B:  I hate to fire the WSM up for just a couple hours and just one turkey, so I used the Weber Kettle.


Gravy pan.

I've brined my turkeys in the past, but I'm following Meathead's advice and injecting this one.

Turkey.  Ready.

Weber.  Ready.

2:10 PM.

After 2 hours 45 minutes, the iGrill says we are done.

Turkey.  Done.

The obligatory Corvette or motorcycle pic that has nothing to do with nothing.
KTM on Old Scottsville Road in Fall.

Gravy pan.

Thin turkey gravy.

Hopefully I cook better than I carve.

Smoked Turkey with Mom's Mashed Potatoes & Gravy is just about the perfect meal for my tastes.

My assistant takes a simpler approach.
[Please excuse the jersey. There are no Pats fans in this house, but some of us do admire Brady's fantasy production.]

  • Crispy skin!
  • Fresh vs. frozen?  It was nice to buy a turkey one day and cook it the next.
  • For the first hour my grill temps were a bit low, so my cook time was about 15 minutes longer than expected.  It would have been right at 2 1/2 hours if I got the first hour right.
  • Injecting sure is easier than brining, and I see no reason to brine another one.
  • The thin gravy was the best revelation of this day.  I tried some turkey with it and without it and the difference was huge.  It basically replaces the moisture that was cooked out, while adding a lot of flavor in the process.  It fixes the typical problem of smoked turkey being a bit dry, even after brining.
  • I like a thick gravy for mashed potatoes, and there was enough liquid in the gravy pan to make both.
  • We've eaten a lot of turkey in the past few days, and nobody complained about having even more after tasting this one.  Everyone loved it.  It'll be my go-to recipe from now on.  It's quite simple, and I'm sure it'll be even better next time.  Thanks, Meat!

UPDATE:  Some ideas for the leftovers...

Turkey Melt, Farmers Market-style.

Pesto Pizza.

Turkey & Stuffing Eggrolls.

Smoked Turkey & Andouille Gumbo.

Saved the best for last...
Kentucky Hot Brown!

UPDATE (11/28/13):  We did the 2013 turkey the same way, of course. This time we used some apple wood and some chunks of a bourbon barrel that was later used to age red wine at a winery down the road. It resulted in a really nice red color that was a bit of a surprise...

Rainy day didn't slow us down, as we only had to open the lid once.

I think I know why he's smiling.

I still can't carve a turkey.

Now he just wears that jersey to make me mad.
Hopefully it won't fit next year!

Thin gravy for the turkey, and thick gravy for the potatoes.