This is my favorite way to smoke turkeys. I have smoked both fresh and up to 8% enhanced turkeys with good results, anything more the 8% you get minimal results. The enhanced turkeys have never come out overly salty. The turkeys are not overly sweet either; it’s a well balanced flavor that produces a moist and flavorful turkey. My wood I most generally use is a mix of hickory and apple. I have used hickory and cherry with no great deference. However if you use all hickory there is a stronger smoke flavor. I do not recommend Mesquite as you get an over powering smoke flavor. With that said here is how to do it.
Smoked Apple Honey brined Turkey
4 1/2 quarts filtered water (18 cups)
4 - 12 oz cans frozen apple juice
NOTE: 1 ½ gal bottled apple juice may be substituted for water and frozen apple juice
1 1/2 cup Morton kosher salt
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 oranges zested, juiced, and pulp saved
4 oz of fresh ginger chopped
15 large whole cloves crushed
3 bay leaves crushed
6 large garlic cloves chopped
2 Tablespoons pickling spice crushed
1/3 cup Morton’s tender quick (optional)
The tender quick was added on the advice of a professional meat inspector and smoker. He stated it will help reduce bacteria growth while in the brine and smoker with minimal change in flavor.
At least 1 day before brining
1. In a large stock pot, bring 6 cups water to a boil, add salt, and sugar. Stirring frequently to be sure salt and sugar is dissolved.
2. Reduce heat and add orange zest juice and pulp, ginger, cloves, bay leaves, garlic, pickling spice, and tender quick, simmer for 15-20 min partly covered.
3. Remove from heat and place pan in ice bath in sink.
4. After liquid has cooled below 150 deg. Mix in honey.
5. Cover and refrigerate
6. Chill remaining water or apple juice
Day of brining
1. Wash turkey inside and out, making sure you have removed the innards, and tail.
2. Loosen skin on turkey
3. In clean 5 gal bucket or large stock pot add remaining water, and apple juice, stir till apple juice is dissolved, add seasoned water, stir to combine.
5. Place turkey in turkey roasting bag neck down.
6. Place turkey in cooler large enough to hold turkey and pack ice around turkey roasting bag.
7. Pore brine into turkey roasting bag
8. Remove as much air as possible from turkey roasting bag and tie off
9. Let turkey soak for 24-36 hours.
1. Remove turkey from brine
2. Rinse turkey well inside and out in cold running water, making sure you get under loosened skin
3. Let turkey drain 10 to 15 min.
4. Pat dry.
5.. Place turkey uncovered in refrigerator for at least 12 hours
Day of cooking
1. Remove turkey a bought 1 hour before smoking time.
2. Mix the following together and rub under skin of turkey
1 stick no slat butter
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice crushed fine
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon white sugar
3. Smoke turkey in 275 -300 degree smoker with wood of your choice till turkey reaches 165- 170 in the thickest part of thigh and breast.
4. Remove from smoker wrap in double layer of foil and let rest for 30 min before carving.