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Turkey Tune-Up

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone...Happy Weekend!

I think I will be smoking a bunch of turkeys for the neighborhood on Thanksgiving, so I wanted to do one in advance just for me. That way I could refine my process and ensure that everyone's birds were awesome for their special holiday.

I smoked a turkey last year and I will tell you that it was without question the best bird I have ever eaten. Here is what I'm doing:

I have an 11 lb bird that I put in a large ziploc bag. I hate to put large quantities of brine (and bird) in the refrigerator in case they would spring a leak, so I do this in a cooler. Here is the turkey in the cooler waiting for some more brine.

Brining the bird - A must for poultry (IMHO) and I am using a brine of salt, brown sugar, pepper, garlic, thyme, sage, and a touch of molasses. I usually put it in the blender and spin it around to make sure everything is well disolved. A couple of years ago, I was complaining about my POS blender, so Mrs. Engineer got me this one. It is really heavy, very powerful, and doesn't have that stupid Frappe' button on it...I mean who the hell knows what frappe' is any way. I think if your blender has buttons on it, it should have one that says "margarita", but I digress......My blender has an on and off switch, and a dial that controls the speed which is read on a tachometer...No kidding, my blender has a tachometer! Here we are moving at 5000 RPM.

Turkey and Brine is in, and I'm filling the cooler with Ice. This can now sit outside in the garage, and be safe and not pose a leakage danger to my fridge.

Tomorrow, I am going to smoke this with Cherry, Apple, and Pecan mix, and also make some dynamite gravy in the smoker....stay tuned!
post #2 of 56
What's your address and are there any houses for sale in your neighborhood. Sounds like a great brine.

Kudos to you for making turkeys for the neighbors That's awfully nice of you.
post #3 of 56
Here we are, patiently waiting for the q-view.icon_wink.gif
post #4 of 56
Looks awesome Dana, look forward to the finished pics. By the way, does that blender have an overhead cam???? I have not seen one with a tachbiggrin.gif.
post #5 of 56
Dana, I gotta have a blender like yours...with a tach! Wow, is that a custom job? The only improvement I could imagine would be a glass container for us traditionalists. PDT_Armataz_01_12.gif

Great appliance, I'm impressed with both it and the cool Mrs Engineer for getting it for you.... Oh and to no less regard, your turkey looks good so far too~ keep us posted!
post #6 of 56
Everything looks great and I like the brine it's sounds pretty good. So I too will be waiting in the wings awaiting the Qview.
post #7 of 56
Looks Great, Sounds Great, Great Idea, PDT_Armataz_01_37.gifGotta Have One of Those Blenders...icon_mrgreen.gif
post #8 of 56
looks really good so far, and perhaps a plan i may follow, I am smoking my first turkey fot t-giving(as well as an oven bird), a practice run of my brine, might be a good idea.
post #9 of 56
YOu'll always remember your first leaky ziploc bag in the fridge. What a mess.
Love the cooler idea.
Smoke that birdie and let us watch!
post #10 of 56
I have yet to smoke a big bird and very curios on the gravy making process. Do you place bird in pan, or place drip pan below bird? Does gravy have smokey flavor as well?

Thanks for sharing, looking forward to updates.
post #11 of 56
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone,

I've got the gravy put together and in the smoker and the bird out of the cooler and rubbed down...here's how it looks:

For the gravy, cut up an onion, some celery, carrots, and a couple of apples and put in a roasting pan that you can put in the smoker. Make sure that the veggies are what you would eat, because remember that cool blender with the Tachometer that I showed you earlier...Yup, this is going in there to produce a beautiful sweet / savory / smoky stock for gravy and soups after the bird is cooked.

Add some Thyme and Sage...I remembered that my fresh sage had come back to life given the cool weather that we've had, so I threw in a leaf of that too.

Add the neck and any trimmings and fill it up with chicken or vegetable broth or stock. If you want, you can put in some sherry too...I forgot that when I was out running errands this morning, so mine is sherry free. Also, My bird had two necks stuffed in the cavity...BONUS for my gravy!

Here is the bird this afternoon after taking a bath in the cooler.

I ran my fingers under the skin and smeared it with butter and Thyme / Sage. I also cut up an onion and an apple and stuffed in the keester along with another sage leaf.

The bird sits atop the gravy so I get all of the delicious drippings.

Time for the "Iron Maiden" to do her job. The TBS is a mix of apple and wild cherry, and smells wonderful. I have the thing stoked up to about 325° as well...Time to relax for a bit...where's my beer?
post #12 of 56
Beautiful things are happening in your smoker right now!
Great brine and that is one hell of a heavy duty blender, everything is looking great so far.
post #13 of 56
I have no doubt,it will be fantasticPDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
I love your smoker,BBQ Engineer
post #14 of 56
Looks great Dana.I love compound butter under the skin with frsh herbs-a real treat....Never thought of apples in a gravy,but then i do not think much anywho....

Cant wait for my internet plate!!!!!
post #15 of 56
Thread Starter 
Turkey is done!

Here is the bird...it looks great.

Here is the Gravy after cooking in the smoker and catching some of that great turkey flavor.

I strained out the veggies and put them in the blender.

I defatted the broth, and put in enough to fill the blender, and let it run.

Here it is spinning the gravy at 11,000 RPM.

The gravy is really nice...if you want it thinner, you can put in more broth, but I like mine a little thicker. It is smoky, smooth, and absolutely delicious.

Platter of turkey ready to be devoured.

Mrs. Engineer's parents were out for dinner...it was their 55th anniversary. We didn't want to go to "thanksgiving" on them so we served a wild grain rice instead of stuffing, and Mrs. Engineer wanted fried Okra. We also ate some butternut squash that Mrs. Engineer grew. It looks pretty monochromatic on the plate, but everything was really good together.

For Desert, I made Phyllo Dough pear tarts with Gorgonzola cheese and toasted pine nuts.

Out of the Oven....

Plated Ala-Mode and then I drizzled it with some butter rum sauce I made with Capt. Morgan.

Drizzled with Butter Rum Sauce

Everything was awesome, and the desert was incredible.
post #16 of 56
Wow man, that is an awsome smoke, and presentation, the gravy looks to die for along with every thing else, I love gravy.points.gif
post #17 of 56

nuff said. cause i'd be here all night if i tried to tell you how much i thought of everything you've made here.
post #18 of 56
OMG Dana!!! I don't even know what to say on this one. Unbelievable. Fantastic. You are quite the accomplished cook, that is for sure. The Turkey, well I don't think I have ever seen a nicer looking bird. And the other items and the presentaion, P E R F E C T...
Point for sure on an absolutely terrific job.points.gifpoints.gifpoints.gif

I have to add this as well.
post #19 of 56
Man thats so good looking points.gifpoints.gifpoints.giffor sure that is one of the best meals I have seen here in along time
post #20 of 56
BBQEng you have some definite skills on the grill. That whole meal looks absolutely wonderful. I was very interested in your turkey as I am also planning my first smoked turkey for Thanksgiving. I am going to wait and try my first one on Thanksgiving day though. I just want that first smoked turkey we taste on that day when we are all here together. It feels kind of risky but I am just going to "wing it" (pun intended). My wife loved your dessert and the dessert plates she said were absolutely beautiful.

Thanks for sharing.
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