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Take Up Smoking... For Thanksgiving!

Turkey time is right around the corner and so are those hours of oven roasting which may or may not result in a juicy bird. If it dries out, well, there is always gravy. Lots and lots of gravy.

I would like to suggest another option; smoking. It’s healthy, it’s tasty, and it’s easy! It also leaves your oven free for a multitude of other goodies. Like pie. Pumpkin pie. Pecan pie. Apple pie. Any kind of pie.

You can smoke a turkey on either a charcoal or gas grill or smoker. If you have a smoker like the Fornetto Built-In Wood Fired Oven and Smoker or this Saffire Grill Smoker be sure to read the manufacturer’s recommendations.

However, rule of thumb:

  • An electric, charcoal, or gas smoker should be kept at around 225 -250Ëš
  • Most recommend that you not go over 15 pounds when smoking a turkey; regardless of how large it is, you need to make sure that the internal temperature reaches 140Ëš within 4 hours. If it is lower than that after 3 ½ hours, you will have to abort and finish up your turkey in the oven to be safe.
  • It will take roughly 30 minutes per pound to smoke your turkey; figure out the earliest time your turkey could be ready; this is when you will want to start checking for doneness. Test the internal temp in two different places.
  • Keep in mind, smoked meat is often pink; just make sure it has reached the correct temperature and it is fine to eat.

Some general suggestions for smoking a turkey:

  • The turkey shouldn’t be trussed.
  • Don’t stuff it so that you allow for airflow and even heating; fill the turkey cavity with aromatics like garlic, onion, herbs rather than breading.
  • Apple or cherry wood goes great with poultry; choose a mild wood for smoking.
  • Take it easy on the basting and external seasoning; you want a crisp skin and the meat, rather than the skin, to be seasoned. Stuffing with aromatics will accomplish this.
  • It’s best to brine (soak in salty water) your turkey overnight.

For some brine recipes check out http://allrecipes.com/recipe/turkey-brine/ or http://www.food.com/recipe/kittencals-best-brown-sugar-turkey-brine-148225

Follow your brine recipe; some suggest brining for up to 24 hours. Once the brining is complete, wash the turkey, inside and out. Stuff the cavity with your aromatics. At this point, you can season the skin with a dry rub if you like. Spray the outside of the bird with cooking spray to help the seasonings to stick.

Place your bird on the grate breast side up. Make frequent temperature checks. Once the turkey has reached its correct internal temperature, remove it from the smoker. Allow the turkey to rest before carving it; resting it keeps the juice from running out when your start carving.

Now, gobble until you wobble!

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