Smoked Turkey

Smoked turkey is a treat!  You get that luscious smoked taste along with a juicy delicious turkey.  Winners all around!  I've smoked both whole turkeys and turkey breast.  They are both great!  Thanksgiving is more fun with smoked turkey!

The keys to success: 1) Use fresh turkey, not frozen, 2) smoke for 2-3 hours at 225º and then cook at 325º, 3)Baste or spritz, 4) don't let the skin burn (cover the area with foil if it begins to burn) and 5) remove when done (165F at breast or between leg and thigh). Do not overcook!

Use fresh turkey, not frozen. Fresh turkeys have the best taste and texture. Brining will also add taste and moistness.  See my post on brining poultryIf your turkey is pre-brined (the label will state "xx% of solution added") additional brining could over-do the effect.  So only brine a turkey that is not pre-brined.

Remove the giblets, rinse the turkey inside and outside and pat dry.  Let the turkey sit at room temperature for an hour before cooking. Have your seasonings ready.  I use Merlin's Magic Dry Rub (see recipe) and garlic powder.  Or use whatever seasonings you prefer -- salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dry rub or multi-seasonings.

Before seasoning, oil the turkey.  Carefully separate the breast skin from the meat (use a spoon or spatula) and spread some oil between the skin and the meat.  Do the same for the thigh skin and meat.  Before you oil the outside of the turkey sprinkle seasoning between the skin and the meat where you oiled and also inside the chest cavity.  Then brush the exterior of the turkey with oil and sprinkle the outside of the turkey with the seasonings.

Do not put stuffing inside a turkey you are smoking. It would add cooking time and the turkey could end up overdone or burned.  Tuck the wings under the turkey and make sure the legs are secured.

Place the turkey on a rack, in an aluminum pan.  This lets you collect drippings for gravy. You can place the turkey directly on the grill if you prefer.

Pour a cup of apple juice inside the cavity.  Smoke the turkey at 225º for two to three hours depending on the size. Then adjust the temperature to 325º and cook until done, usually 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  The turkey is done when a thermometer registers 165° in the coldest part of the turkey, usually the breast or between the leg and thigh. If the skin is getting too dark cover it with aluminum foil.

Digital probe thermometers are accurate and quick.  I use a Maverick ET-73 remote digital thermometer to monitor both the smoker and the meat while the turkey is cooking.  This lets me monitor from inside the house, without opening the smoker and losing heat.  Toward the end of the cook I'll check the turkey with my Thermo-Pen digital thermometer for a more accurate and quick reading in different parts of the meat.

I combine two parts apple juice and one part cooking oil for a spritz.  First spritz one hour into the cook, and once about every hour afterward.

So, there you have it. A really delicious, moist and tasty smoked turkey. Make some gravy and serve with stuffing and cranberry sauce, and you’ll be ready for a feast!

Buen Provecho!

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