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First Smoked Turkey for a Birthday

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by disco, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. disco

    disco Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    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!
    snorkelinggirl likes this.
  2. My Goodness Disco, this is so beautiful! What a fabulous celebration and meal! Cheers to it all and the birthday too! - Leah
  3. disco

    disco Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks, Leah. It turned out even better than I hoped. The skin was perfect which was my biggest worry.

  4. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That looks very nice! I need to try a turkey soon.
  5. disco

    disco Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks, Todd. It was very tasty.

  6. disco

    disco Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just as a follow up, I just finished making soup out of the carcass. The touch of smoke from the carcass makes an incredible broth.

  7. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Your turkey looks amazing...great color on the skin! But I confess that I am a bigger sucker for the stuffing and gravy. The whole meal looks fantastic, but if I were at your table you'd need a crowbar to get the stuffing and gravy out of my hands. :biggrin:

    I'm very impressed at the quality of your pictures and postings, Disco! You're an inspiration!

    Have a great night!
  8. disco

    disco Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for the kind words but if you are trying to make up for that cruel posting of your beans (http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/151768/ham-and-trotter-baked-beans-from-scratch-w-q-view) forget it. I had to come in from the cold and have turkey barley soup. Excellent in its own right but pale against your fine beans. I enjoyed the soup but kept thinking of your beans.

    As for needing a crowbar to get the stuffing and gravy away from you, my missus isn't very big. She is a kind soul. She is tolerant (as defined by 38 years of marriage to me). However, she is the toughest person I know, pound for pound. I wouldn't bet against her getting the stuffing and gravy from you!

    Enjoy the winter. Smoke some good stuff. Spend time with your family and friends. Post more of your great Q!