Thursday, November 25, 2010

Smoked Turkey

I know I said before that all I had to make for Thanksgiving was a side or two and a pie, but Hank and I got a wild hair last week and decided we needed to smoke a turkey. It was the right thing to do, and since everyone who had previously volunteered to make it seemed to be backing out it was a good thing we did.

Now, if you must know I've never made a turkey before- so the recipe below was purely experimental. I mean we had plenty of ideas (and questions)... should we flavor it up BBQ-style? cajun? how do we keep it moist? truss who? etc. etc.

In the end we just went after it and used our best judgement. I went for more of a fall flavors kind of approach. It was really fun- we haven't sliced into the turkey yet but it smells absolutely amazing.

Smoked Turkey
(printable recipe)

1 stick butter, softened
equal parts (about 2 tbsp. each) fresh thyme, parsley, rosemary, sage, minced
dash pepper, cayenne, paprika

2 c apple cider
1 stick cinnamon
4 cloves
salt & pepper
dash cayenne, paprika

2 c celery, chopped
2 c onion, chopped
2 c carrots, chopped
6 small apples (1 used 3 granny smith and 3 fuji), diced
3 small pears
fresh sprigs of rosemary, thyme, sage

Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator overnight (if using a fresh turkey, brine in salted water overnight) thoroughly pat dry. To make the rub combine the butter, herbs, and spices. Mix well until smooth and spreadable. Rub underneath the skin (as much as you can) and over the entire bird.

Combine the celery, onion, carrots, apples, and pears and stuff the turkey. Add the fresh herbs to the cavity as well. Place any extra aromatics on the bottom of the roasting pan and put the turkey on top. Truss the turkey (I simply tied the legs together and cut through the skin on either side to insert each wing).

To make the injection bring the cider and spices to a low boil. Simmer 5-10 minutes until fragrant. Inject each breast and leg with the hot injection mixture.

Smoke the turkey at 200 degrees in a water smoker. We used a equal parts apple cider and water for the liquid in the smoker, and used mesquite and cherry wood chips - next time we'll try apple wood. The turkey is done when you reach 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast. Check the turkey every hour to make sure the skin is not getting too dark - we covered ours with foil when it had good color and continued to smoke it until it was cooked through.

Using a turkey baster remove some of the excess liquid / drippings from the pan. Carefully remove the turkey from the smoker and allow to rest for 1 hour before carving.

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