There is no better way to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey than to slow smoke it. Of course you wouldn’t expect anything different from Bradley! The reasons this method takes the Thanksgiving cake is because it’s hard to overcook, it’s an enjoyable little process, and the flavors are wonderfully complex and delicious. Try it and you may never put another one of these noble birds in the deep-fryer or oven again.
To help you get the job done right, we’d like to serve up some turkey smoking tips. They will get you geared up for success right from the get-go!
Pick the right bird. Don’t bring home the biggest whole turkey you can get your hands on because of cooking time. As you well know, smoking is a low, slow cooking process. It takes about 6-8 hours to cook a 14 lb turkey and a lot longer for bigger ones. We recommend an 8-10 lb turkey simply. They’re more manageable.
If you already have a bird in the freezer, move it into the refrigerator 3-4 days prior to cooking to let it thaw all the way out. These large birds take a good while to thaw completely inside and out and the best place to do this is the refrigerator to avoid bacteria growth on the outside of the bird since it will thaw much, much sooner than the inside.
Preparing The Turkey
Start preparing your bird by removing the plastic, the giblets and neck. Remove the wire, paying attention to how it goes on there so that you can fasten it once again when you’re done prepping the bird. Rinse the entire bird inside and out with cold water, drain and pat dry. Now the bird is ready for seasoning.
Seasoning The Turkey
We recommend mixing together brown sugar, salt and rosemary with cream sherry to make a thin paste you can then apply to the outside of the bird and between the skin and the meat. This would be the time to add any other herbs or seasonings of your choice. Fasten the wire around the legs the way it was before, and set the turkey in a greased, disposable cooking pan. The disposable pan is a logical choice because it will build up a layer of smoke that cannot be removed.
Smoking The Turkey
Now comes the real fun! Preheat your smoker to 100°C (220°F) and get your chips/bisquettes all ready to go. We recommend pecan flavor bisquettes. Otherwise, hickory is hard to go wrong with. Keep an eye on your temperature gauge to make sure your heat is consistent. Every hour, you should baste the turkey using the juices from inside the cavity and continue cooking, basting every hour until it’s done. Total smoking time will run 3-4 hours or so with a 10 lb turkey. Smoke until your meat thermometer reads 75°C (165°F). Check the temperature of the meat in a few different areas to make sure it’s completely done.
Serving The Turkey
When the turkey is done (the smoking process causes the skin to darken), carve it up and serve with your choice of stuffing, gravy, cranberry chutney, potatoes, brussell sprouts and yams. Another great side dish you might include is this smoked acorn squash recipe by Bradley Smoker. And of course, don’t forget the classic Thanksgiving pumpkin and apple pies!
We want to wish everyone a fun and festive Thanksgiving this year, and as always, we’re looking forward to your comments. Try this smoked turkey recipe and let us know how it goes!