The right turkey preparation is essential for making the traditional Thanksgiving meal wonderful. The following are the steps for creating a great smoked turkey.
Step One: Choose the Right Turkey
For the best results, choose a fresh and minimally processed turkey. An 11 to 14-pound turkey should be large enough, yet doesn’t take too long to cook and create a succulent smoked turkey.
Step Two: Preparing the Turkey
The next step in the turkey preparation process is removing the giblets, neck and excess fat. Leave lots of skin to keep the meat from becoming too dry. Use cold, running water to rinse the turkey’s body cavity and outside surfaces. Loosen and separate the skin on the breast, down the sides and towards the legs. This lets the brine reach the meat.
Step Three: Brining the Turkey
Place the turkey head first into your favorite brine. Make sure it’s completely submerged. Leave it in the brine between 8 to 24 hours, depending on its size and how salty you want it.
Step Four: Rinse and Dry the Turkey
Remove the turkey from the brine and use cold, running water to clean it inside and out. Then, stand it upright for 5 to 10 minutes to allow it to drain. Next, pat it dry using a towel so it will be ready for seasoning.
Step Five: The Curing Rest
To improve the turkey’s texture, moisture retention and flavor, leave it in the refrigerator uncovered for 12 to 24 hours.
Step Six: Seasoning the Turkey
Using a wet rub or a dry mix of herbs and spices, coat all the turkey’s exposed flesh including around the legs and under the wings. Move the skin to ensure the entire bird is seasoned, then gently pull the skin back in place. Many people use dry rub inside the cavity and wet rub on the outside. The oil in the wet rub improves the smoked turkey’s moistness and color. Some people pin the skin with toothpicks to keep it in place while the turkey cooks. Truss the legs together using butchers’ string and it’s ready to be smoked.
Step Seven: Smoking the Turkey
Heat the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. To prevent sticking, oil the grate. Keep the temperature between 225 and 250 degrees the entire time the turkey is smoking. Smoke the turkey for 30 to 40 minutes for each pound of weight. Use a remote thermometer to monitor the turkey’s internal temperature. Use a few fist-sized chunks of apple and oak wood to the smoker for additional flavor.
When the breast is 160 degrees and the thigh is 165 degrees, remove the turkey from the smoker.
Step Eight: Resting the Turkey
After smoking the turkey preparation is complete. Place it breast-side down and cover it with a foil tent. Wait 30 minutes, then slice and serve.