Smoked Turkey

Well, Thanksgiving has passed and I’m still talking about turkey.  “Why?” you ask.  Well, after reading this, you will want to make another turkey for Christmas.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Absolutely nothing wrong with turkey again.  After all, it’s usually a winter bird right? For this bird, I smoked it over a low charcoal fire with chunks of hickory for 2 hours.  Then I put it in a 250 F oven until it sang deliciousness.  Ok, maybe it didn’t sing, but I did.

This was after I took it out of the smoker and was putting it into the oven.  Already the skin is browned and full of flavor. More importantly, the skin has become kind of leathery so no juices will run out of the meat when it is completely finished. I roasted it breast side down so that juices within the bird could run into the breast, moistening the white meat even further.  No one likes dried turkey breast, ugh! We had a 17 lb turkey (was the smallest Costco had). It was enough for the three of us, and 10 others. But I got creative with the leftovers so it’s fine.

I also brined my turkey for a full day before smoking it.  Brining is submerging your turkey in a salt solution.  The salt enters the muscle cells and makes them more tender.  I could go into more physiological detail, but nah.

It is now down with a thigh and breast temp above 165 F. Or you could pierce the meat and if juices are clear, it’s done.  Sometimes smoking meat makes it actually finish faster than the suggested temperature, so I like the pierce test. It’s amazing I even got a picture of the turkey because I wanted to scarf it down right there.

There you can see ample smoke flavoring along with the moist meat.  When I say moist, I’m not just making myself feel better as a cook.  This was THE MOST TENDER TURKEY I HAVE EVER HAD IN OVER 20 YEARS OF TURKEY EATING!

I capitalized it so it would really get through.

A completed plate with a leg, kale, cranberry sauce, and last post’s sweet potato casserole.  I washed it all down with a Sam Adams Winter Lager.  The holiday spices complimented the meal.  Maybe I’m just saying that because I wanted a beer after a long day of cooking…or two.


2 gal water
2 c salt
4 c sugar
1 c apple cider vinegar
4 t dried sage
4 t dried thyme
2 T pepper

In a 5 gallon bucket, place all ingredients and mix well.  Add turkey, cover, and refrigerate. I put it outside in our patio because the temperature was in the 30s. It is my second refrigerator.

Smoked Turkey

1 17 lb turkey, emptied of neck and giblets (save the neck and saute to make gravy)
2 carrots, cut in 2″ chunks
2 stalks celery, cut in 2″ chunks
1/2 large onion, cut in quarters
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat your grill to low (or a low fire for charcoal). Place turkey on rack and add pre-soaked hickory chunks.  Maintain temperature for the next 2 hours while adding wood from time to time (about every 30 minutes for me).

Remove and place on rack within a roasting pan. Toss vegetables in some olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Stuff inside cavity. Use a wad of foil or parchment to seal the cavity well. You may also rub the turkey with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I chose not to. Place the breast side down and place in 350 F oven for the next 1 hour. Reduce to 250 F and cook another hour. Check temperature and adjust cooking time thereafter. My turkey took 1.5  hours to reach 165 F in the breast (or 175 in thigh).  Always go by temperature, not time.  Especially for larger birds, you never know.  For turkeys over 20 lbs, check temperature after 2 hours. I also recommend using an oven probe thermometer.  That way the probe stays in the meat and you can check readings while on the couch watching football.

After it’s finished, let it rest about 20 minutes, or longer. Slice and serve with all the trimmings.

*next up…Fresh Pumpkin Pie…*

For leftovers, I made the most delicious sandwich ever with turkey, gravy, kale, and cranberry sauce.

Go ahead, drooling is allowed.


One Response

  1. […] is Thanksgiving and it’s going to be a delicious feast. I’ll be smoking my turkey as always, since that’s my go-to way that has never failed. I’ll have sweet potato casserole as […]

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