If you're going to have turkey this Christmas, here's the recipe you MUST use. Fine Cooking (one of my fave cooking magazines), did a recipe in their August 2012 issue for a bacon wrapped smoked turkey. I made some adjustments, and amazingly omitted the bacon-wrapped part of the recipe. It still turned out to be the juiciest, most delicious turkey I've ever had. Make this for your family, and they will thank you throughout 2013!
Okay, okay if it seems like too many steps, then I implore you to at least try the brine before roasting. It will infuse your turkey with so much flavor and moisture.
- 8 cups apple cider
- 8 cups water
- 1 lb. kosher salt (1-3/4 cups if using Morton’s; 2-3/4 cups if using Diamond Crystal)
- 1-3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 5 dried bay leaves
- 1 12 to 14 lb. fresh or thawed turkey (not kosher or self-basting)
Combine all of the brine ingredients and 8 cups of water in an 8-quart pot; bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate until cold.
Brine the turkey:
Put the turkey breast side down in a pot or tub large enough to hold it and the brine. Add the brine and refrigerate for 24 hours (I flipped my pot lid upside down to keep it submerged).
Spice Rub Ingredients
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbs. chili powder
- 1 Tbs. packed dark brown sugar
- 2-1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
- 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
Spice Rub Directions
Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Makes plenty, store leftover rub in an airtight jar, and try on popcorn.
Smoked Turkey Ingredients
- Brined turkey
- Spice rub
- One quart vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
- Apple juice in a spray bottle
- One big and one small disposable aluminum roasting pan
- One small bag hickory hardwood chips (soaked in cold water overnight)
Smoked Turkey Directions
Prepare your smoker (or grill). We used our charcoal grill with a banked fire on one side, and made a pocket out of a small disposable roasting pan for the hardwood chips. Meanwhile, rinse the brine off the turkey and dry thoroughly. Remove the backbone with sharp kitchen shears. From the inside of the bird, make a small incision into the breastbone so that the bird will lay flat. Flip the bird over, and lay it flat, while tucking the wings back and under the arm. Generously rub the entire bird down with the spice rub.
Place in the larger disposable roasting pan and add the vegetable stock so that there is around an inch in the pan. Smoke the turkey for 6-8 hours, until the thigh registers 165 degrees F. Throughout the cooking process, monitor the fire, the level of stock in the pan, and for the last 2-3 hours, spray down the turkey with the apple juice every 30 minutes.
Once to temperature, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before cutting. Use the pan dripping to make a flavorful gravy.