This brined, smoked turkey is tender, moist and delicious with a lovely smoke flavor.
Course Main Course
Keyword smoked turkey, thanksgiving, turkey
Prep Time 1hour
Cook Time 4hours
Resting Time 20minutes
Total Time 5hours
FOR THE BRINE:
1/2cup kosher salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
10 whole cloves
20whole black peppercorns
8cupsunsweetened apple juicepreferably organic, unfiltered)
FOR SMOKING THE TURKEY:
FOR THE BASTING LIQUID:
1/2cup apple juice
1/4cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoonsmaple syrup
FOR THE CIDER GRAVY:
contents of the turkey "pouch" neck, gizzard, liver & heart
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoonsbutterat room temperature
2tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2teaspoon black pepper
2teaspoonsgravy master or browning sauceoptional
MAKE THE BRINE:
In a large stock pot, combine the brown sugar, kosher salt, maple syrup, cloves, peppercorn, bay leaves and thyme. Add the apple juice and simmer over medium heat until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Stir in the bourbon, cold water and ice until the ice is melted.
Check temperature of the brine before brining the turkey -- it should be at room temperature or cooler <70°.
Find a receptacle large enough to hold the turkey and the brine -- could be a cooler, or I go to the restaurant supply store to get one of their large plastic food storage containers or brining bags.
Place the turkey in the receptacle and pour in the cool brine. The brine should cover the bird, but if it doesn't quite, add a few more cups of water and/or apple juice. Alternately, if your container just isn't big enough for more liquid. Let the turkey brine for half the time, then flip it over to brine with the other half fully submerged. Brine the bird for 12-24 hours.
Several hours or the night before smoking, add 3-4 cups of wood chips to a large bowl and cover with water.
FOR SMOKING THE TURKEY
Remove the turkey from the brine and transfer to a baking pan. Pat completely dry with paper towels and discard the brine. Place the turkey on a rack set over a baking pan (to catch drippings and prevent flares). Use kitchen twine to tie the drumsticks together. Tuck the wing tips behind the bird -- this will prevent them from getting dried out -- it also gives a nicer presentation.
Drain the wood chips.
Use a chimney starter to light the charcoal for the smoker. Pour the embers into the center of the smoker and spread out slightly. Toss with several handfuls of the wood chips to start the smoking.
Place the grate over the charcoal embers.
Try to maintain a constant low smoke and the temperature (which won't be precise) should hover between 225°-275°. Baste the turkey every 20-30 minutes with the basting solution. Start checking the turkey with an instant read thermometer at about the 1 1/2 to 2-hour mark. You want to achieve a breast temperature around 155° for perfect doneness -- the turkey will continue to cook after you take if off the heat. Depending on the size of your turkey, this could take anywhere from 4-5 hours.
GAS GRILL INSTRUCTIONS:
Set up the gas grill for indirect heat. (The heating elements are on for one half of the grill while the turkey sits on the opposite side.) Heat that side to about 350°.
Fill 2-3 smoking boxes with the drained wood chips (or set up smoking pouches by filling aluminum foil with wood chips, sealing the pouches up by crimping the edges together and poking holes all over the pouch. Place the smoking boxes or pouches directly over the grill grates and heat until they start smoking.
Reduce the heat so that you just maintain a steady smoke with the grill temperature hovering between 225°-275°.
Place the turkey on the opposite side of the grill and close the lid. After 1 1/2 to 2 hours, begin basting the turkey every 20-30 minutes with the basting solution.
Start checking the turkey with an instant read thermometer at about the 2-hour mark. You want to achieve a breast temperature around 155°-160° for perfect doneness -- the turkey will continue to cook after you take if off the heat. Depending on the size of your turkey, this could take anywhere from 4-5 hours.
FOR THE GRAVY:
In a medium skillet cover the turkey giblets, neck, heart and liver with the water. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover with the lid slightly askew so the steam can escape. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the the broth reduces to about 4 cups.
Remove the neck and set aside. Place a strainer over a large mixing bowl (one that has a spout is convenient) and pour the broth through the strainer. Discard the solids. Add the stock back to the pan and add the apple cider. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer without the lid for 20 minutes or until you have about 4 to 4 1/2 cups of liquid. Pour the liquid back into the bowl.
While the stock is simmering, add the butter to a small bowl and stir in the parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (are you hearing Simon and Garfunkel?) along with the salt and pepper until it's well combined. Set aside.
Place the butter herb mixture into a large saucepan over medium high heat. When the butter has melted, sprinkle on the flour and whisk to form a thick paste. Cook for one minute until bubbly. Add the hot cider mixture a steady stream, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute until the gravy thickens slightly. Stir in the whipping cream and gravy master. Taste for seasonings -- and prepare to be wowed!
When the turkey has achieved 155° in the breast, remove it from the heat and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving. Serve with the gravy on the side.