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 Comments »