There was a birthday in our household so I decided to try my first turkey smoke. At the request of She Who Must Be Obeyed, we had smoked salmon for Canadian Thanksgiving last month and it was time for a bird.
I got up in the morning to the start of snow.
Oh, well. I am Canadian and used to the cold.
I started with putting the bird in the fridge 4 days ago. Then, I pulled the giblets and organs. I rinsed the bird inside and out and sprinkled with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, rosemary and savory. I did not brine. I have tried brining before roasting in the past. I didn't really find the bird any moisture and I do find it changed the flavour.
Then I made up a stuffing of sausage meat, chopped apples and herbs and put that in the small cavity. This is a tradition from my wife's family. I was dubious at first as I do not stuff my bird for safety reasons but the sausage is great, I believe it adds to the gravy and it does cook thoroughly in the smaller cavity. I do a bread stuffing in a casserole as opposed to the bird.
I fired up the A-Maze-N Pellet smoker with cherry and maple and loaded up the Bradley. I put a pan under the bird to catch the drippings. Per my remote thermometer, the Bradley ran between 210 F and 230 F.
While that was chugging along, I put the neck into water I had drained from the potatoes I cooked for mashed potato casserole and simmered it for a couple of hours for the gravy.
After about 5 hours, the bird had an internal temperature at the thigh of 145 F. I took it out of the smoker. I was going to finish it in the oven to crisp the skin. It was so nicely browned, I don't know if that was really necessary and might finish it in the smoker next time.
Another tradition from the missus' family is to put some bacon slice on the bird. I put it on at this point as I knew she would miss eating it when it came out. I loosely tented with some foil as I liked the colour it was and put it in 350 F oven.
It took about an hour to get to 165 F in the thigh. It was perfect. Nice crispy skin, very moist meat (even without brining) and a nice mild smoke flavour. We loved it.
We paired it up with old fashioned bread stuffing, mashed potato casserole, sausage stuffing, and green salad. A carrot cake was made for the birthday.
I did try something for the gravy. I added the broth from the neck to the drippings with some dry soup base. However, I used a couple of tablespoons of the fat I took off the drippings to make the roux (flour and fat mixture) to thicken the gravy with. The fat had such a nice smoke odour I thought it would add a nice smoke flavour to the gravy and it did .Very nice.
The verdict. I love a smoked bird. It was nice, moist and tender with a great flavour. I really like the naked turkey flavour without brining. Add to the pleasure with home made soup from the carcass and life is great!