Smoking a turkey is a popular way to prepare the bird commonly found on holiday dinner tables. The distinct taste of smoked meat combines with flavorful turkey to make an excellent main course for a family dinner and will add an extra shot of flavor to the sandwiches made from leftovers. Following a few tips on how to make the best of your smoked turkey could make this meal one to remember.
Say No To Slow
The general rule of smoking any meat is "slow and low." With a turkey, this isn't necessarily the only way to go. Instead of smoking the bird all day at 175 to 200 degrees, turkey responds well to higher smoking temperatures for a far shorter amount of time. Try cranking the smoker up to 275 to 300 degrees F., and cutting the cooking time down by half or more. The turkey will be tender and juicy and still have the desired smoked flavor when cooked in this manner and it is far less time consuming. Some people may have trouble getting their smoker up to this temperature range, but keeping the fire hot and emptying any water pans can help you reach the desired temperature.
Soak And Bury
Don't worry about trying to keep the wood chips going to thoroughly smoke a turkey. Use charcoal in the smoker and bury water-soaked pieces of the desired wood chips in the charcoal. The charcoal will affect the flavor a bit, but not in a bad way. Also, the the temperature will be more consistent and the smoke will remain intense. Adding wet chips to the top of the coals once they are hot and red will increase the amount of smoke getting to the bird.
Many people elect to skip the brine process because it is so time consuming, but for the best final product this is a step that needs to be followed. Place the bird in a large container filled with 2 gallons of water, 2 cups of salt, 2 cups of sugar and any other non-salty flavorings or spices the cook desires. Leave the turkey in the brine for around 12 hours, stirring the liquid around and rolling the bird over from time to time. Thoroughly rinse the turkey when it comes out and proceed to the smoker. Also, make sure the turkey sits in the brine in a refrigerated area under 40 degrees F.
Injecting flavors into a turkey is completely optional, however the meat will be improved by the presence of a couple of simple ingredients. Mix butter and any desired herbs such as sage ot thyme, and melt it into an inject-able sauce. Use an injector to push the flavoring into the raw turkey around the joints and deep into the meat in several places. The mixture will cook through the meat as it makes it way out during the process and will add distinct flavor.
- Photo Credit turkey image by Diane Stamatelatos from Fotolia.com
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