It may be out of your everyday norm but there’s nothing new about smoking a turkey. In fact, turkey has been smoked for generations and there’s no surprise as to why. IT’S DELICIOUS!
Smoked foods of any kind, be they meat, poultry, fish, dairy or vegetable are generally served in small portions as the catalyst on a great sandwich or salad or even as a flavouring for soups and sauces. The fact of the matter is however, that a whole portion of smoked ribs, ham, chops, sausages, fish and yes, chicken and turkey as well, on your plate is to die for. What’s important to bear in mind is the amount of smoke flavour you want to impart to your food when you’re smoking it. If it’s over-smoked, you can easily end up with food that’s bitter from the smoke or so smokey that it over-powers the rest of the meal. If it’s under-smoked, you may not even notice the smokey flavour!
On the same note, the amount of salt is key as well when smoking your food. Check out our original brine recipe below and continue reading for the variation on the brine I used for the turkey.
The difference between our original brine and the brine I used for the turkey is the addition of extra herbs and spices. What’s important to bear in mind is the quantity. A whole turkey is large and therefore needs to be completely submerged while brining it which means that the brine recipe needs to be increased in order for you to have enough to ensure that you have the correct amount to cover your turkey. In order to impart the additional flavour for the turkey brine, I added dried oregano, dried onion flakes, onion powder, cracked coriander seeds and fresh garlic to the original recipe.
Original Brine Recipe:
6 litres (1.6 US gallons) of spring water or purified water
2 cups of sea salt or kosher salt
1 cups of sugar (white or brown)
3 tbsp of whole yellow mustard seeds (OMIT THIS FOR THE TURKEY BRINE)
2 tbsp of cracked black peppercorns
4 bay leaves, whole (CRACKED FOR THE TURKEY BRINE)
1 onion sliced into wedges
2 apples, sliced
For the turkey brine add:
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of dried onion flakes
1 teaspoons of onion powder
1 tablespoon of cracked coriander seeds
1 garlic clove, sliced in half
Make enough of the brine to cover the turkey completely. You will most likely have to double or even triple the recipe. Click on this link to follow the rest of the brine recipe and be sure to dry the turkey completely before oiling, seasoning (without the addition of extra salt) or smoking it.
You can also choose to rinse the turkey once it’s been removed from the brine. This will remove any extra saltiness and depends on your personal preference. Note that I, personally, always brine for short periods (less than 24 hours) at room temperature (in the coolest part of the house) because I order meat that’s been butchered the day of or a day ahead of when I need it. As a salt-brine is a cure, and because of the salt and the temperature at which it will be roasted/smoked you can rest assured that any harmful organisms are killed. Brine your turkey for a minimum of 12 hours up to a maximum of 24 hours. That being said, it’s ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE that you use the freshest produce you can purchase. If you are using meat that has been thawed, has been refrigerated for several days or if you are wary of food-borne pathogens, I suggest that you brine in the refrigerator. Avoid smoking turkeys that are larger than 7.25 kg (16 lbs) as they take too long and the increase in the possibility of food contamination rises substantially. If you need more turkey to serve all of your guests, I suggest preparing two. Check out the video below for the process!
Once the turkey’s been brined, it’s time to slow-roast and smoke it. Place the turkey directly on the rack and try to centre it as close to the middle of the Fornetto as possible. You’ll need a drip pan filled with water in the bottom of the oven. This is not only to catch the drippings, but to keep the turkey moist and to help the smokey goodness adhere to the bird.
As I mentioned earlier, the turkey I prepared here is very slowly roasted. A 6 kg (13 lbs) turkey takes about 6 to 7 hours at 110C (225F), of which the first three hours are devoted to smoking and the remaining time is left to roasting. That’s where the half-smoked part kicks in! Fell free however, to smoke it for the entire time using a smooth flavour, like oak. Use a digital meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh away from any bone as that will influence the reading and test in several locations. When the temperature hits 75C (165F), it’s time to remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest.
Allow your turkey to rest, covered for at least 20 minutes before carving it. This will ensure that the liquids redistribute throughout the meat.
Serve the turkey with your favourite choice of vegetables, cranberry sauce and gravy!
We’d like to take the time to wish all of our friends in the U.S.A. a safe and healthy upcoming holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!