Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy (Smoked) Turkey Day!

Of course, you knew it was going to happen. This year, I'm going to smoke a turkey for the very first time. I've always eaten turkey the traditional way--cooked in a conventional oven. More often than not, the turkey came out dry and flavorless. I would always have to drench the turkey in gravy to make it taste better. Nowadays, it seems that fried turkey is all the rage. And no, I'm not going anywhere near a turducken. Of course, you can always get one of those monstrous, mutant-sized turkey legs from Disneyland all-year round. Did you know one of those turkey legs has about 1,000 calories?!

$9 for a turkey leg at Disneyland... please look away, don't judge!
"Pardoned" turkey at Disneyland... which means he's lucky.

Smoked turkey just seems healthier and easier--well, for me anyway. I've already got my beloved smoker, which has been used about 20 times since I bought it in May. The smoker is already properly seasoned, which means all the months of grease build-up within the smoker will help regulate the temperature and give it that added smoky flavor versus a brand new smoker out of the box. I've done some research online about smoking turkeys. Just Google "smoked turkey recipe" and you'll find plenty of results.

Some of my favorite recipes and articles about smoked turkey come from Serious Eats (one of my favorite food websites out there). Here are 3 variations:

Cajun Smoked Turkey

Apple-Brined and Smoked Turkey

Honey Brined and Smoked Turkey

Of course, the always reliable and informative Virtual Weber Bullet (aka, the bible of WSM smoking) has some very detailed step-by-step instructions for smoking a turkey:

Apple-Brined Turkey
Honey-Brined Turkey
Salt-Brined Turkey

My 12 lb turkey waiting to be injected, brined, and smoked.

After reading quite a few recipes, I'm going to use a little bit of everything for a "hybrid" smoked turkey--both using both methods of marinade injecting and brining. I know it may be overkill to do both, but why not? I don't want the typical turkey flavor--I want bold flavors with a little kick with every bite. I want a ultra-juicy turkey breast with extra crispy, golden brown skin. I know--for a first-time turkey smoker, I've got super high expectations. I'll let you know how it all turns out next week. In the meantime, have a great Thanksgiving holiday!