Thanksgiving: The Turkey, Pt. 2 (UPDATED! With pictures!)

As the more assiduous and mnemonic among the assembled may recall, last year-ish I got a BBQ smoker. You will also recall (if not, the last couple of posts should have reminded you) of my love for Thanksgiving.

So, I have decided to combine the two in the cooking of the 3rd* turkey which will alleviate much oven space stress.

For anyone fool enough to try this, here's what my trial run -- yes, I do that -- hath revealed.

12-20lb Fresh Turkey** (not self-basting, or God forbid, "enhanced") I like Bell & Evans, but any turkey you like will do, the more natural, the better.
Brine with:
4 Cups Coarse Salt
1 Cup White Sugar
3 Gallons Water
4T dried sage
2T dried marjoram
1T dried thyme

Heat up 2 cups of water and make a "tea" with the herbs. Mix everything until sugar and salt are dissolved. (This recipe can be cut by 1/3 and used as an injection if time is short. Inject the turkey an hour or so before you're ready to cook.)

Remove giblets, turkey neck and any metal or plastic trussing. Put turkey in vessel (I like a smallish cooler, supplemened with those blue gel freezer packs) and make sure the entire turkey is submerged. Let brine 8-12 hours or overnight in the fridge. Remove turkey from brine, VIGOROUSLY pat dry, rub the outside with coarse salt (and a little baking soda) and, ideally, let rest in the fridge. The day of the cookery, place on the smoker.
One is s'posed to rinse prior to smoking, but I don't. Smoke using a wood of your choice, I use hickory. Smoke in the 245ºF-260ºF range until the breast reads 160ºF and the thighs are at least 170ºF.

Authorities will have you wrap the turkey with foil and let rest 30 minutes - 1 hour on the counter before slicing. I don't wrap, and only rest it 20-30 min. Covering with foil only steams the otherwise shatteringly crisp skin. This is key.



* There ARE 56 people to feed, after all.

** Do NOT brine if you are using a Kosher turkey -- which are delicious -- as the final result will be more like turkey-flavored salt.


cary perk said…
Do you all fight over the skin? Man, that sounds good right now!
Have fun!
Joke said…
The chef, carving in glorious anonymity, gets the pick of the crisp goodness. What those people out there do over the rest, is not chef's problem.

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