11/25/13

Big Green Egg Smoked Turkey Trial...

I bought a small turkey - as in 11 pounder - on sale last week with the goal of doing a trial smoke in the Big Green Egg to see if the family would allow me to smoke the big bird on Thanksgiving.  I had been meaning to try this all year, but just couldn't get myself around the need to thaw a frozen bird for a few days, brine it for 24 hours - all just to do my simple test.   In other words - it all seemed like too much work.  Actually, that's not any more difficult than some of my other smokes (like pastrami), but it was enough to keep me from conducting my test earlier.

Then, just passing through the grocery store on a recent shopping trip, I saw the butcher set out some small fresh turkeys in the counter.  I grabbed one welcoming the chance to do my trial and avoid having to thaw it out from an arctic deep freeze since it was a "fresh" turkey and not a frozen critter.

After searching around all the usual BBQ smoking guides for temperature and time, I settled in on smoking it at 325-350 for about 3 hours.  No need to go low and slow with poultry like one needs to do with red meat to break down the connective tissue.  Nope.  Higher heat (well, at least up to 350) and fast is the rule for poultry.  I did not brine the bird and went with a very simple dry rub of kosher salt, fresh black pepper, rosemary, sage, parsley, garlic powder and a bit of paprika.  I seasoned the cavity and put a chopped onion with some rosemary twigs in the carcass - leaving room for smoke and air to freely flow through the carcass during the smoke.  I used the indirect heat plate, apple and mesquite wood chips, and a 3" pan of water under the bird.  No "beer can" style turkey.  Nope.  I wanted the airflow to get through the bird for quality even cooking.

I covered the wing tips and leg tips with foil to prevent burning and after I got it (and the neck for the dogs) loaded on the Big Green Egg, I took off to see The Women of Lockerbie over at the college.  I found it to be a very good show which included about an hour of tugging at our heart strings in the audience.   Lets just say my contacts were plenty moistened during the performance.

After the show, I headed back home to take the foil off and roll the bird over on the other side.  The temperature in the Egg had dipped a bit to around 290-300, but I managed to get it back up to the target range of 325-350 after rolling the bird over and getting airflow picked up a bit.  That only took about 15 minutes to accomplish which is normal after one opens the lid.  I worried it would extend my cook time by about 15 minutes, but I opted to pull it out exactly at the 3 hour point.  It looked fine to me.  What?  Me use a meat thermometer?  Please...

Here it is at rest...

SmokedTurkey

Perfectly moist, succulent, and the family was impressed with my effort.  Being that it was only an 11 pounder, we polished off most of it in one sitting and only had a small Tuperware container of leftovers.  1/2 of which were used on a veggie pizza Monday night for dinner (also yummy).

Bottom line is the test went well, was painless enough and we are all in discussion about the bird on Thanksgiving Thursday.  Will it be smoked?  Or will it be done traditionally in the oven?  It's pretty easy to smoke a bird in the Egg and now that I've done it - we can do that any time since turkeys are sold year round.  So there is a good chance we will do the traditional oven bird with stuffing on Thursday.  To complicate matters food wise for our cooking - it's also Hanukkah which means we will have some other foods that are pretty rich in taste and texture.  That sort of makes a smoked turkey maybe a bit too much flavor wise for Thursday.  The convergence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving is a once only in our lifetime (and several generations) event since it has been since 1888 that Hanukkah and Thanksgiving overlapped.  And being that it won't happen again for another 79,043 years, I think we can certainly enjoy the convergence this year!!!!  It's nice having Alexa home and we are all enjoying each other's company catching up.

5 more days of Movember to go...


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