So...I planned to smoke our bird this year and made the mistake of mentioning this to my brother who was hosting the extended family dinner on Wednesday. His reply, "That sounds fantastic. Would you consider smoking one for our dinner?" Now I love to cook, so normally this would not be a big deal, but in this case I was concerned:
1- First smoked turkey, many unknowns
2- He lives about 1.25 hours away and dinner was not planned until an hour after we were supposed to arrive.
3- About 1/3 of the family were skeptical about whether such "an unusual cooking technique" would be appropriate for the traditional bird.
I worried, read much here and elsewhere, worried more, read more. This is the only time in over a decade that I was worried about cooking and I try new things all the time.
But, in a large part thanks to you all here everything worked swimmingly! Thank you!
Next day I repeated the process for a dinner with immediate family and friends and it tasted even better (increased time on smoker from 2 to 3 hours).
Here's what I did:
1) Actually found a bird that was not injected at the factory! Norbest now makes a variety call "Family Heritage" that is minimally processed. At our store these were actually mixed in with factory basted birds and cost the same too; although I've got to wonder if several families were left wondering why their bird was so dry this year b/c they did not read the label.
2) Brined the bird for ~12-hours, then thoroughly rinsed by immersing in cold water, draining, and repeating.
3) Lifted skin away from muscle, dried with paper towels then injected the breasts with 1/2 butter and 1/2 chicken stock (homemade with browned/roasted chix and veggies) and a little herb-infused olive oil.
4) Placed on rack in the refrigerator overnight to more thoroughly dry.
5) First thing in the morning I wet rubbed with herb-infused olive oil and stuffed loosely with aromatics (onion, celery, carrot, etc.), then back to refrigerator.
6) Preheated oven to 325F along with two foil-wrapped brick to increase the heat mass of the smoker. At the same time I preheated the smoker (electric Bradley) to its max temperature of about 225F. (Is this normal?)
7) Placed the bird in the smoker and smoked with apple for three hours. The smoker dropped to about 125F then only every achieved a temperature higher than about 165F.
8) Removed from smoker and finished in the oven.
The results were outstanding! Juicy and flavorful. Here is a pick of the Thurs bird, which was a little darker (the pic looks darker than it was in reality) than the one on Wed. but still gorgeous (IMHO).