December 27th, 2008

Smokin’ Bird

When I got word on the 23rd that the number of guests attending our Christmas Eve food and gift-giving frenzy was swelling, I realized that I had to augment my game plan. I could make more of everything—the idea of which made me cringe—
or I could add one more menu item.

But what?
With beef tenderloin, stuffed shells, and sundry vegetable side dishes on the menu, stovetop and oven space were at a premium.

A-ha! Time to commandeer my trusty Big Green Egg, and smoke a turkey.

We tend to relegate outdoor cooking to warm weather months, but it’s just as fine in winter. For the most part, you can put bird or beast in the smoker and forget about it while you tend to the rest of the meal prep. (All afternoon this past Christmas Eve in Nashville it rained heavily—and at a slant—but my egg chugged right along!)

The key is having time—at least overnight—for brining.

Sherry and locally produced sorghum add a rich, sweet layer to this brine.
Out of deference to my brother, whose lips swell to Bozo proportions if they touch anything capsicum, I eliminated the otherwise delightful couple of glugs of Louisiana Hot Sauce.

For one 12 lb. fresh turkey, use a container large enough to submerge the bird in about
1 ½ gallons water and the following:

The Brine
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup Sorghum
1 cup sherry
1 onion, quartered
1 orange, quartered
1 apple, quartered
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon cracked black pepper

Submerge the turkey in the brine and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, stoke the smoker; bring temperature up to 250 degrees.
Remove bird from brine. Rinse off, drain, and pat dry.
Place turkey inside, breast up, and lower lid.
After 3 hours, flip the turkey over to brown the breast.
Total smoking time: 4 ½ -5 hours

Serves 20

Caterer’s Tips: Turkey prepared this way is juicy and flavorful and doesn’t need any embellishments.
But a honey-dijon sauce, or a pear chutney, is a welcome condiment, especially when spread on rolls for little smoked turkey sandwiches the next day.

Posted in Meats/Poultry, Recipes

4 Responses to “Smokin’ Bird”
  1. Madeleine Says:

    I was one of the fortunate ones to get to eat this tasty, smokin’ bird. It was delicious… so much so that I think I am going to buy a smoker.

    On a totally different note, Chef Nancy, I was hoping that you could provide me with your Hoppin’ John recipe. Please?! I want good luck in the new year!

  2. goodfoodmatters Says:

    I predict you will have phenomenal good luck in the new year
    with this quick and healthy vegetarian hoppin’john version:
    Use Fresh Black-Eyed Peas, which will cook up easily (available in most grocery stores right now.)

    Healthy Hoppin’John
    2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    1 large yellow onion, diced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    sea salt
    red pepper flakes
    1 container fresh black-eyed peas (1 lb.)
    4 cups water (or vegetable stock)
    1 cup uncooked long grain rice
    chopped scallions, for garnish
    louisiana hot sauce, for zing

    In a 2 qt.saucepan on medium heat, sauté diced onion until translucent. Add garlic and sauté together for 2-3 minutes. Rinse and drain black-eyed peas and stir into the pot, allowing the onion-garlic to coat the peas. Season with a little salt and a few red pepper flakes. Add liquid, stir well, and allow to simmer uncovered until the peas become tender and the liquid reduces to half. Stir in the rice, and cover.
    Allow to cook about 20 minutes, until rice is fluffy.
    Taste for salt, top with scallions and pass the hot sauce!

  3. Bill Berenson Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    Pat sent me your link. Wow, I’m hungry! It all looks so good. I’m working late – going on a cruise Thursday, Mexican Riviera. Hope everything is going well for you (and hello to anyone else from way back when).

    Bill Berenson

  4. Danny Kreps Says:

    I was a beneficiary of your Hoppin’ John recipe…maybe the good luck from it will bring me some Smokin’ Bird.

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