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A poultry smoke. Hot with hickory, plain with birch

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Todays poultry menu includes a turkey breast, some chicken leg quarters and some turkey legs.

Recently found some wood at a local grocery store in the seasonal isle. It was European white birch. Curious as to whether I could use it to smoke or not I check the sticky on here and sure enough...
"BIRCH - Medium-hard wood with a flavor similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry." Excellent, now I can try a new flavor of wood.

I had other things to smoke and having never tried birch I was hesitant to use it so I did my regular hickory and after that did a bit with the birch. On with the show.

First thing was to make a brine for a turkey breast.

Brine recipe:
4C water
1/4C white sugar sugar
1/4C brown sugar
1/2C kosher salt
1 1/2t pickling spice
2T black peppercorns
1T coriander
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1t cloves
1t thyme (or poultry seasoning)

First I toasted the coriander and 1T black pepper

Heat the water, sugar and salt over a medium flame until dissolved.

Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Cool completely and cover the bird. I use 1 gallon freezer bags for smaller bits and larger food grade buckets for whole birds.

Brined overnight turning at least once.
Also brined some leg quarters. Don't have any measurements for this one because it was one of those "this looks good, I'll just throw it in the mix" type of brines.
These are the spices that made the cut

Also brined overnight.

Next day I pulled them from the fridge, rinsed the turkey off and coated it with olive oil and fresh cracked black pepper. Leg quarters I sprinkled with some cajun seasoning.

Onto the heat, 300 with hickory and pulled when the internal hit 165-170

Leg quarters were fantastic, not to take anything away from the turkey but I was actually amazed how good they turned out. Even the skin was tasty, I always pull it off but this time I had to have a little because it was so good. My brother (who doesn't care for chicken) picked one completely clean, skin and all.

So, now that that is over with I pulled out some other quarters and some turkey legs I had brining to go on the birch.
This brine I kept very simple because I wanted to taste the wood flavor.
4C water
1/4C white sugar
1/2C kosher salt
2 cloves minced garlic

After they came out of the brine I rinsed them off, rubbed with some olive oil and fresh ground black pepper.

I have heard the bark on birch can be very bitter so I burned it off

Threw everything on and waited...
While I tended to the smoke I noticed this guy came over to hang out.

Hope some of the bugs he got picked up a bit of smoke flavor.

Again, pulled everything once it hit 165, rested a few minutes and then time to try it.
Quarters made that turkey leg look puny.



My verdict on birch?
Delicious, it smells great and tastes even better.
A few people asked me to describe it and I did as best I could, but more than anything I would say that it tastes like what you would think a light maple wood would taste like.
I will definitely use it again, and again.

Thanks for looking.
Happy smokes to all you folks.
post #2 of 16
Damn fine!

PS - I almost thought for a second you were gonna put the frog on the smoker, you were on such a roll! heh!
post #3 of 16


That's one outstanding smoke you had going on FiU, those birds looked delicious and perfectly cooked. I really liked your wood-test on the birch and appreciate the info on that~ gotta keep my eyes open to see if I can run across any around here. Also, great idea on toasting the coriander seeds! Never thought about that, and looks like it works very well. Thanks for sharing your idea.

Points to you for the comparison and the fine results!
post #4 of 16
Excellent post! The brine looks GREAT, the food looks great . . . and I love the smoke ring!!! Very, very nice!


post #5 of 16
Nice comparison, thanks for the Qview.points.gif
post #6 of 16
Excellent looking grub FIU!! Can't say I've ever seen that Hot Chili Oil you used in your first brine, but I'll have to look for it - sounds like it would be right up my alley! Ever try any smoked frog legs?? Just kidding, he didn't look very tasty but hope he enjoyed a good meal too!
post #7 of 16
It's starting to sound repetitive...but nice work again. That all looks great. I love me some chicken leg quarters!
post #8 of 16
thanks for doing the taste test on the birch, now I got a reason to cut down the one in the back yard!
The birds all look excellent I'm going to give that brine a try soon. thanks for sharing the Q-view
post #9 of 16
Excellent looking birds and thanks for the tutorial! I have a turkey thawing out and I'm trying to decided how to cook it. You just may have made up my mind.biggrin.gif
post #10 of 16
Awesome post Fire! I want to come and eat at your house. points.gif

I love cooking, because it is a giant experiment for me. I also love experimenting with different wood and wood combinations as part of the fire and TBS ritual. I recently picked up a truck load of seasoned wood from a guy that owns a tree service (mulch by the bobcat bucket for $5.00!). I got a few nice limbs of Mulberry which I have never tried, so that will be one of my next experiments! I would have never thought of using birch, but it has made my list now. Thanks for the post, pics, and heads up for some good smoking wood!
post #11 of 16
It looks like you are having a lot of fun with this!

I greatly appreciate people who take good pictures of their cooking!

Keep up the good times!
post #12 of 16
darn good looking poultry, nice pics, great start to finish desceiption, i like!!!PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif, looks like a great job and something shared that anyone can give a shot at duplicating or adjusting to thier own taste. great job!!!points.gif

outta curiousity what ya got for rub on this one??? lol

post #13 of 16
Mighty fine lookin' poultry burn you had, fiu! Looks like you're really getting into the brining. The more of it I see, the more I want to try it myself...someday soon I hope.

Your little friend looks like he's just lonely, came by to to chat with you I suspect...

Thanks for sharing those great pics!

post #14 of 16
Mighty fine looking bird there. Love the blow by blow Qvision you're the bomb fire
post #15 of 16
Me too!!!!! Frog legs to go with the other legs!
post #16 of 16
Well done sir!
Next time you use the birch, grab yourself a couple bottles of birch beer. It delicious, but hard to find. It's non-alcoholic and very refreshing.
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