Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey

The Big Bird, yeah, we ate him.  A hardwood smoked Turkey is the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving meal.  This is the thirteenth or maybe fourteenth Turkey I have done for Thanksgiving.  I usually buy a frozen Turkey five days before Thanksgiving.  It will thaw in the refrigerator for three days, and spend two days in the brine before going into the smoker.
I'll cook it directly in the smoke for two hours to get the smokiness in the meat, and then tent the whole bird to finish the cooking.  I prepare a roasting pan by lining it with heavy duty foil.  The Turkey is on a rack that fits the roasting pan.  Then the Turkey and the rack go into the roasting pan.
I have prepared a double sheet of heavy duty foil by folding the edges together, making it double wide.  This will be the tent that goes over the top of the Turkey.  At this point, in the picture above, the Turkey looks finished, but it will take another couple hours for the internal temperature to come up to a safe level.
After putting the tent over the Turkey, I'll crimp all the edges closed to prevent the smoke from getting to the Turkey.  At this point it has enough smoke, and only needs the heat.
So all that is left is to watch the thermometer, and wait for it to get to 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the breast meat.  After the Turkey gets pulled out of the smoker it needs to rest for an hour or so to let the juices settle down.

I didn't get any table side pictures this year.  Everything was too crazy once all the peeps got to the house.  Last year's Turkey was perfect in the breast meat, but the dark meat was a little under done.  This year the dark meat was perfect, but the breast meat was a little over done.  You really can't get a whole Turkey totally perfect.  To get the whole bird perfect you would need to quarter it, and cook each piece to temperature.  Something to think about for next year...

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