Break from tradition & smoke your turkey
Barbecue Is Now!
By Paul Kirk CWC, Ph.B., B.S.A.S.
Kansas City Baron of BBQ
Order of the Magic Mop
Ambassador of BBQ
Certified Master BBQ Judge
It's turkey time! That means it's Thanksgiving. I am asked if I prefer smoked, barbecued, or traditional baked turkey, and my answer is, "Yes, I do!"
I'm not sure where I got this information; it comes from my collection of recipes and information which my computer says I copied it in 2014, and I don't have the author listed. There is some great information here. I thank them for the information and think you will enjoy it!
Turkey: Smoking Get the basics of the Smoked Turkey
For generations people have been dropping turkeys into the oven and roasting for hours. They use stuffings and little pop up timers. Guess what? You can make a great turkey this way. But wouldn't it be great to go one step better? Smoked turkey is more flavorful and is more tender than oven roasting. Breaking away from tradition can be hard, but I'm here to walk you through the process.
Here's what you are going to do. You are going to cook your turkey to an internal temperature that must reach 165°F. This means that the coldest part of the turkey is 165°F. This isn't a suggestion. Test in at least two places and remember that turkey bones heat faster, so keep the thermometer away from the bone, and white meat cooks faster than dark meat.
Run the smoker at temperature range of 220°F to 240°F. Plan on 30 to 40 minutes per pound.
What you need to smoke a turkey
The first thing you need for a great smoked turkey is a good turkey. Now whether you are going to hunt you own or buy one, you want a fresh turkey. A free range turkey is what to look for. Now I know this isn't always cheap or easy, but if you can, then I recommend it. If you do pick up a frozen turkey, always follow the instructions for defrosting. Also do not get too large of a turkey. A 20-pound turkey will take 10-14 hours and larger turkeys greatly increase food contamination risks. A 12-16-pound turkey will be good.
You also need a smoker, a good meat thermometer, a good hardwood like cherry or apple, and patience. For the smoker, you can use a kettle style grill if you are familiar with low temperature cooking in it. Most people don't do turkeys very often, so even if you are a master of smoked brisket or low n' slow barbecue ribs, you should pay particular attention to what you are doing. Nothing can take the place of experience.
The good meat thermometer is a must. It should read fast and be very reliable. For the wood I recommend a fruit wood because the flavor works best with turkey. Something like a cherry or apple would be good, though hickory and oak can add a nice flavor as well. Be careful not to over smoke a turkey, especially if you are doing a long smoke.
Smoked turkey has a different color and texture than oven roasted turkey. The meat may appear pink and have a smoother texture. This is normal. The smoking process causes a chemical change in turkey that causes this color change. As long as the turkey registers a temperature of 165° degrees F it is safe to eat no matter the color.
Step by step instructions for smoking a turkey
Step 1: Make user you have everything together before you start. The turkey needs to be completely thawed. Remove all the stuff inside and trim off any excess skin. Remove any pop up timer devices, wash in cold water and pat completely dry.
Step 2: Prepare your smoker. You will want to build a fire to hold a steady temperature right around 230° degrees F. Since most smokers start hot and cool down as the fire settles into a good smoke that you plan on putting the turkey in at about 250°F and let the smoker drop down to the cooking temperature.
Step 3: Putting the turkey in at this point will give you a great meal. However, there are several options you can follow to enhance the flavor of your bird. One option is to use a brine. This will require you to soak the turkey in the brine for a good 24 hours before you cook.
You could also apply your favorite dry rub. Of course the simplest method would be to brush some olive oil to keep the skin moist and help your turkey develop a rich deep tan.
Step 4: Put the turkey in the smoker breast side up. You can use a roasting pan or heavy foil to help reduce any mess or just set it on the rack.
Step 5: Wash everything. Once I get a piece of poultry on the grill or in the smoker I like to sterilize everything that might have come into contact with it. Salmonella is not something to take lightly. Once everything is completely clean you can relax. Check the smoker temperature every hour or so to make sure it's behaving properly but you won't need to do anything with this turkey for several hours.
Step 6: Calculating 30 minutes per pound at about 230°F, determine the approximate time that the turkey could be ready at the earliest. This is when you want to start testing for doneness. Using a good meat thermometer to test the internal temperature turkey in two different places, leaving the thermometer in long enough to get a good reading. Remember, don't test too close to bone. When you have two reading about 165 degrees F. then you can take the turkey out.
Step 7: Let the turkey rest for about 15 minutes and carve. Giving the turkey a rest will allow the meat to relax, the juices to flow and the temperature to come up a little and even out. This is one of the secrets to a great bird. Don't rush to carve or your turkey will be dry.
Have a great Thanksgiving!
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Let's talk turkey
By Ardie A. Davis
AKA "Remus Powers"
Let's talk about turkey, the bird. Forget about whether the turkey or egg came first. Forget about why the turkey crossed or flew over the road. The turkey/egg causality dilemma and the road crossing riddle/joke may forever be unresolved. Save them for your Thanksgiving fun while everyone awaits the feast.
Let's talk about turkey as good eats, especially on Thanksgiving Day.
Before our Thanksgiving bird arrives fully cooked at the table, we have choices:
- Tom or Hen?
- Weight range
- Domestic or wild?
- Whole bird or parts?
- If parts, which parts?
- Free range or caged?
- Growth hormones & antibiotics?
- Humanely slaughtered?
After we select our bird, we have cooking method choices:
- Oven roasted?
- Deep fried?
Once we've settled those options, a variety of other options—sides, sauces, gravies, breads, serving dishes, plates, silverware, napkins, decorations, beverages and desserts—have to be settled.
No wonder so many people prefer to eat out on Thanksgiving Day!
The easiest and most comforting choice for me is to do it the way my family has done it over the years. Mama Ethel, my maternal grandmother, always oven roasted a big Tom turkey for our multi-generational family Thanksgiving dinners. Stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry salad, cornbread, corn and green beans, followed by pumpkin pie, pecan pie and applesauce cake to round out the feast.
To this day, although I love smoked turkey and I especially love smoked/deep-fried turkey, my choice for Thanksgiving dinner is oven roasted turkey the way Mama Ethel and my mother cooked it: shiny brown crispy patina; tender, juicy and flavorful throughout, dark or light. It was good enough to make a barnyard cat chase a hound dog; no moonshine required.
Now that the November 8th national, state and local elections are over, whatever the outcomes, let us be thankful for all of our loved ones, our neighbors, all who share this country and planet with us, plus our many blessings and our freedom to enjoy, exemplify, strengthen and preserve the American way of life. And may your Thanksgiving turkey this month be the best ever!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
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College Quick Marinated Beef Tips
By Kent "The Deck Chef" Whitaker
Time to jump off the cookbook promotion, barbecue, and grilling business train for one article! A married college student couple recently asked me if I had a suggestion for grilling beef tips. The young couple, in married student housing, is one a budget and wanted to start grilling up a few cost saving meals. Ally and I are masters of budget shopping so I knew we could help.
We swapped emails about grocery shopping tips, affordable cuts, where certain cuts came from, chicken, beef, fish, and more. The outcome was me having a better respect for the time married students with a young family have to prepare a decent meal. Especially while juggling school, jobs, toddlers, all while trying to live healthy.
We swapped several recipe ideas but the one below seemed to be a favorite. They let me know that they picked up a pack of chuck eye steak that was on sale at their local grocery store. It was cut into beef stew size chunks. I suggested trying a quick and easy recipe that I did for a Chef Demo in St. Louis years ago.
It's a simple recipe for marinated beef with a white cream sauce that takes a few minutes of prep, some marinating time, and about fifteen minutes to cook. The great thing is that almost everyone has the ingredients already in their kitchen. The trick is to marinate the meat overnight if possible or at least for a few hours.
Two things I took into consideration was that Aaron, the husband, had mentioned his love of a certain brand of store bought steak marinade. Secondly; his wife, Lori, preferred more natural items with less sodium. Here's what we came up with.
Marinated Chuck Eye Steak
1 lb. chuck eye steak, cubed
1/3 c. favorite steak marinade or sauce
1/3 c. your favorite juice – apple, orange, pineapple!
Dash of minced garlic if desired
Place all in a zip close bag and chill for a couple of hours.
Grill the steak as you normally would to your desired doneness!
I'm waiting to hear how the steaks turned out for them. I do know that they also planned of using one of my ideas for quick and easy flavored steak butter, but that's a different article.
My suggestion to everyone in the barbecue and grilling business. Sometimes forget about promotion and such — just help a couple of youngsters starting out as a family with a couple of good recipes. After all – as I always say – food always tastes better when enjoyed with family and friends.
Kent Whitaker aka "The Deck Chef," is a culinary writer and cookbook author – his newest title is Great American Grilling. The former winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest also covers football, motorsports, and bass fishing. Kent lives in East Tennessee with his wife and son.
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Apple Wood Planked Pork Loin with Apple Cranberry Stuffing
Fire Up The Grill
By Steve Collins
The Home Chef
What says holiday more than apples and cranberries! This boneless pork loin, stuffed and rolled, is a great holiday season dish. Serve it with garlic-mashed sweet potatoes and enjoy.
1 boneless pork loin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. oregano, finely chopped
1/4 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. apple cider
1 c. breadcrumbs
An apple wood grilling plank soaked at least 30 minutes
Cut the roast the entire length to just past the center of the meat. Then open the roast and cut a little more than halfway through each side (you want the roast to lie flat. Place the slit roast on a piece of waxed paper and cover it with second piece of waxed paper. Pound the roast until it a uniform thickness. Remove the top piece of waxed paper and season the roast with salt and pepper. Cut four or five lengths of butcher string, each about a foot long. Lay them out so that they will go the entire length of the roast Place the roast over the string and refrigerate until you are ready to stuff and roll, just prior to grilling.
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a minute. Add the apple and cook for an additional minute. Add the walnuts and cranberries and cook for another minute. Then add the apple cider. Cook for five minutes more. Add enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together and to absorb the moisture. Spread the filling evenly over the roast. Roll from the thin side to form a cylinder. Tie each string securely.
Prepare a hot fire in the grill. Soak an apple wood plank for at least 30 minutes. Put the roast on the soaked plank. Put the plank on the grill. Cover the grill and cook for an hour and a half (or until an instant read thermometer reads 165°). Remove the roast from the grill. Let it stand for 10 minutes to rest. Slice and serve.
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