Before we take off for Texas to celebrate Thanksgiving I wanted to post my favorite way to make turkey!
I’ve always thought that brining a turkey was the way to go. It makes it so juicy but it’s important to use a smaller bird (10-12 lbs). If you need a bigger bird to serve more people really consider making 2 small ones. This way of preparing the turkey is delicious but know up front that you’ll want your turkey thawed and ready to go 12 hours in advance of cook time as you’ll need 10-12 hours to brine. Smoking the turkey also frees up oven space and who among us wouldn’t wish for more oven space! The end result is a juicy, smoky bird that has become a family favorite and a staple at every Thanksgiving!
Cider Brined Smoked Turkey
- 4 cups reduced cider (Boil 8 c. fresh cider until concentrated and reduced by half)
- 4 cups hard cider
- 8 cups fresh apple cider
- 2 cups coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole allspice
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh oregano
- 2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 gallon ice water
- 1 whole (10-to-12-pound) turkey, thawed completely
- 1 apple, cut into large chunks
- 1 onion, cut into large chunks
- 1 orange, cut into large chunks
- 1 stick butter
- One jar Turkey Seasoning Paste
- Wood chips for smoking
- In a large stockpot, combine reduced cider, hard cider, fresh cider, 2 cups salt, sugar, peppercorns, allspice, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat; add herbs (thyme-parsley) and let steep for 5 minutes. Add ice water and let brine cool to room temperature.
- Rinse turkey and remove the giblets and neck (set aside for gravy or stuffing if you want). Place turkey and the brine in a large, food-safe plastic bag, set in a pot or pan to contain the liquid shape. Make sure the cavity of the turkey is filled and the bird is as submerged as possible. Tightly close bag and refrigerate 10 to 12 hours. If some of the bird is not covered in brine, rotate turkey occasionally to make sure it is evenly brined.
- Remove turkey from brine and rinse well under cold running water; pat dry with paper towels. Be sure to remove any spices or herbs that may be stuck inside the cavity or in the wings. Stuff the bird with the chunks of apples, onions, and oranges.
- Preheat the grill to 250-300° using indirect heat (i.e coals off to one side or gas burners turned off on one end. If you smoke the bird over direct flame, the skin will char and burn long before the bird is done). Add wood chips to the charcoal or make a foil packet if using a gas grill. If the smoke starts to diminish during the cooking process, add more chips or another foil packet.
- Take 1/3 of the paste from the jar and smear all over and inside the bird. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with another 1/3 of the paste and keep over low heat.
- Place the bird on the grill (over indirect heat) and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 165-170°. Baste the bird regularly with the melted butter/paste mixture. The size of your bird and the temperature of your grill will dictate the amount of time that will take but about 20-25 minutes a pound with your grill at 250° is a good guide.
- Remove the turkey from the grill and tent with foil. Allow the bird to rest for 15-20 minutes before carving.
More on this seasoning paste…
A few years back my sister discovered what I call “turkey gold”. It’s the Turkey Seasoning Paste
from Williams Sonoma. It’s worth EVERY PENNY and is out of this world good! It’s made with grapeseed oil, sage, rosemary, thyme, orange peel, brown sugar, black pepper, salt, and paprika.
Currently this is showing as unavailable online but my sister purchased a few jars in the store not too long ago. If you want to give this a try, call your local store to see if there is any still in stock. If you can’t get access to the paste this year, please still give smoking the bird a try!
Here are pictures of the first turkey I made this way. It was a big hit!
We will be enjoying this down in Texas on Thursday! I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!