Preparing delicious mouth-watering turkey meat for Thanksgiving and Christmas is a lively tradition in North America and Europe. Every year, a vast quantity of meat is processed to meet the demand of millions of consumers. For health-conscious individuals, smoked Turkey is considered among one of the tastiest and nutritious dishes.
Most Turkeys are baked or roasted in an oven or a grill. In professional kitchens, the turkey is always brined before roasting to enhance the flavor. Accordingly, the following smoked turkey recipe is based on the assumption that you would like your bird to taste and look like a picture-perfect cover of a cookbook.
The turkey is rich in protein as it contains more protein per ounce compared to other meats. Likewise, white meat is considered healthier than dark meat due to a low amount of fat. Usually, wild Turkey contains a lot of dark meat; therefore, most individuals rely on domesticated Turkey.
Mostly, dry rub for turkey is served with the dressing of cranberry sauce and gravy. We’ve also included tips on how to prepare delicious gravy while the bird is smoked. To complement the dish, you can also use mashed potatoes, corn on the cob or beans, etc.
Here is a step-by-step guide to making a picture-perfect turkey that will allow even the harshest of food critic to become your fan.
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary; dried
- 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
- 1 and a half teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic; powdered
Brining the turkey
For better taste and presentation, it’s important to brine a Turkey before roasting it for a meal. It may take more time to brine, but your family and the guests will be impressed by the flavor and texture of the dish because brining allows ingredients to absorb moisture and aroma.
A large cooler or a dish that can help the turkey maintain constant temperature is perfect for brining. Many of us have icebox that we often use for outdoor picnics. These coolers will make a great choice for brining the bird. If you don’t have a cooler, any large container deep enough to hold the turkey will also do the job.
For the procedure, you will need a cup of salt and a cup of sugar per gallon of water. While there is no fixed amount of water, make sure that this is enough water to allow the whole Turkey to submerge easily.
The first step is to mix the salt and sugar in a large pot. Once the water starts boiling, turn off the gas allowing the salt-sugar mixture to cool to room temperature. Afterward, put the solution in the container or a thermo-cooler before submerging the turkey in the solution. Any container with a lid to close will ensure that the turkey remains fully submerged in the container.
Once the turkey is submerged in the salt-sugar solution, give it about one hour for brining for every one pound of turkey. For instance, if the unstuffed Turkey weights ten pounds, don’t take out the turkey before 10 hours.
You will need a freezer pack or ice to keep the water cold to no more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 24 hours. Depending on the weight of the turkey, your unroasted bird will be ready to cook after a certain number of hours; however, make sure that the turkey does not stay submerged for longer than 24 hours.
After getting it out of the water, give it enough time to dry. You can also use a dry paper towel to absorb the soaking water, quickly.
Rubbing a Turkey
Before cooking, it’s important to rub the turkey with herbs and spices to give it the desired taste. You can stir the mixture of herbs and spices in a bowl before applying the dressing on the turkey.
A lot of us are often confused about whether to dry rub or wet rub the bird. Most recipes found on the Internet recommend dry rub because it draws the natural moisture to the surface of the skin. The moisture provides added flavor to the bird.
For a finger-licking taste, we recommend dry rub and wet rub. A dry rub of herbs and flavors should be applied inside the turkey. In contrast, use the wet rub to coat the outer skin of the bird. For rubbing, it’s better to stick with the flavors described in this recipe. If you’re thinking about using other spices and flavors, just make sure to follow the same procedure for brining and rubbing irrespective of the flavors.
It’s also important to remember that using a lot of flavors and spices will suppress the natural flavor of the turkey. Therefore, you should try to retain the original recipe without adding extra layers of flavors.
Cooking the Meal
If you can apply a good dressing to your turkey, you’re probably minutes away from cooking a delicious meal that is as good as a professional chef. Don’t be fooled by the myth that only experts can cook a tasty Turkey. In fact, anyone that can cook a great meal by following steps outlined in this article.
While preparing the turkey, your best tool is the meat thermometer that will allow you to keep an eye on your meal. Make sure you know how and when to use the thermometer because no one likes an overcooked or raw Turkey.
How to Smoke a Turkey?
A smoked Turkey requires an indirect heat source and consistent temperatures that is approximately 225 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to make sure that the temperature of your grill is maintained at 225 degrees. If you’re not eager to consistently check the temperature, it’s better to buy a remote thermometer, which will help maintain the temperature at a constant level without moving back and forth.
A dedicated smoker is easy to set up at 225 degrees. However, if you’re using gas, turn half of the burners to medium-low whole turning off the other half. Likewise, you can just preheat the charcoal to a slight glow before moving them on the side of the grill so the heat is not directly underneath the turkey. Whatever method you chose, just remember that your goal is to smoke the turkey, and not cook it directly.
Just to get an idea of cooking time, it will take 25 to 30 minutes for every half a pound of Turkey. A juicy, tender, and well-cooked Turkey can take anywhere from 5 to 8 hours depending on the size of the turkey. If you’ve decided to smoke the turkey, don’t use a Turkey that is more than 15 pounds because longer cook times can often cause the piece to crumble due to the bacteria buildup.
For a mouth-watering meal, be prepared to catch the drippings from the gravy while it’s grilled. To catch these droppings, fill an aluminum pan filled with water and place it directly underneath the turkey. During the process, water will evaporate leaving the gravy in the pan. Make sure that you fill the pan two to four times so there is always water inside the pan.
A 12-pound smoked turkey will serve eight adults, which means that an average adult will likely consume one and a half pound of Turkey. Remember, turkey isn’t just meat because there are bones and parts of skin that are not consumed. Accordingly, try to be generous in calculating the serving. If you have more than 12 adults for the feast, don’t rely on one big Turkey. Instead, try to cook two Turkeys, which will allow everyone to feed and appreciate your cooking skills.
As suggested earlier in the article, you can also serve the turkey with cranberry sauce. If you’ve prepared the gravy as suggested in the recipe, make sure that the gravy and other dressings such as cranberry sauce should not mix with the gravy.
Remember, every ingredient should have its distinct flavor, which should manifest in that particular item. In fact, you should allow your guests to savor the taste according to their taste buds. The end result will be a Turkey that will be a feast for the eye.