Preparing a Smoked Turkey
I’m not retired yet, but I like to plan and write about retirement, I also like to eat and to cook. With Thanksgiving coming up I want to share my favorite Holiday roast beast recipe with you.
The absolute best turkeys I have ever prepared were all smoked Turkeys. A smoked turkey is easy to prepare, keeps your turkey out of your oven and kitchen so you have room for everything else you will be preparing for your holiday meal, and will always elicit so many requests for your technique and recipe that it will make you beam with pride.
I’m almost embarrassed when asked for all the details on how to prepare the smoked turkey, because it is so simple. But here goes:
Selecting the Turkey. I normally get the largest turkey that I can fit into my smoker. I have a link below for my favorite smoker, it will take a 14 pound to 18 pound turkey. Thaw it thoroughly unless you buy fresh. I have to tell you that I have had great success smoking both frozen (thawed) and fresh. For economy, I go with frozen. Make sure you retire the turkey to a fridge to thaw, don’t set it out on the counter. I have an extra fridge in the garage I use.
Preparing the Turkey to be smoked. Thaw it, clean it, and for goodness sake take out the wrapped giblets and extra parts and set them aside for gravy, Pat the bird dry and just salt and pepper it. Wrap the wings with a few small pieces of aluminum foil. I do not stuff my turkeys.
That’s it. Just salt and pepper. Place it on a large platter that you can carry out to the smoker. Often the turkey comes with a string carrier. I never use ‘em. I take two large wooden spoons and move the turkey to the smoker by inserting the spoons into the cavity.
Preparing the wood chips. You can select wood chips at any store that sells grill supplies or harvest your own. It is important that you soak the chips in water, preferably over night. If you go forget to soak them, don’t sweat it, but you will need more chips because they burn up quicker dry and give off more
heat. I usually just drop a couple of bags into a five gallon joint compound bucket ( cleaned thoroughly), For smaller soaking try this cool soaker that was given to me a few years ago. It enables you to squeeze out the water ( Click here to buy wood chips on line)
Preparing the smoker. The Brinkman smoker that I use has a lower metal bowl, two racks and a top. At the bottom of the smoker is an electric element
that should be surrounded by the lava stone that came with your smoker. Above that will be a metal bowl that I usually clean up and fill half full of water. I do not use the drippings in this this bowl (too smoky) so cleaning it is not an absolute necessity. Make sure all tabs that hold the racks are secure (One of my turkeys once fell
down the racks due to a loose screw). Place the grill in a place that the smoke will not enter your house buy will waft down the street and make your neighbors envious. Do not use a lightweight extension cord, it will over heat. I always place a table next to the smoker for placing my tools and drink on, and I will have a cooler with a few beers nearby, not for the turkey mind you, but for me for and my friends and family that come to see the roast beast.
The smoking of the turkey. I plug it in, normally around 4 to five hours before the planned meal. Every hour or so I throw more wet, not dripping, wood chips into the side door of the smoker directly on to the stones. I make sure the water in the lower bowl has not boiled away – and add more water as needed. You can take the smoked turkey out ( I use two wooden spoons to move it – and at this point it is wise to solicit one of your guests to help removing the smoked turkey by holding the platter for you). You can remove the turkey when it is down and it will stay warm for an hour or two. I will wrap in in foil and a bunch of towels.
Gregg Fous writes a weekly column on Retirement and Retirement Planning