I meant to send this post out to you all week but then Tuesday happened and it has just seemed ridiculous to talk about turkey in our current state. The disappointment is real as is the confusion, sadness, nausea.
I’ve tried sorting the whole thing out in my head and am trying to understand—clearly the majority—of America’s intentions. As someone who holds liberal values and who has recently moved from very conservative North Dakota back to very liberal California I think I can say with some certainty that there are good, kind people all over our country. I want to believe that these same people didn’t vote for Donald Trump because they agree with his disgraceful behavior but that they just wanted something different and they truly felt like he could change our system for the better. I guess we will see. I hope they are right.
I know eating your feelings is not the best coping mechanism but its the one I turn to the most and so if I’m going to get through the next four years it’s probably going to be with food. And margaritas. I also think a good way to temporarily lift your mood is to dive headfirst into an intensive project. So why not take 4 hours this Thanksgiving and make a smoked turkey?
Now smoking a turkey is not like popping it in the oven, walking away, and coming back a few hours later to the perfectly roasted bird. It does take some finesse, some timing, a certain comfort level with your grill, but it’s not rocket science either.
The first step to a smoked Thanksgiving turkey is the brine
The turkey starts the same as you would if roasting, which is to say, with a dry brine. A dry brine is just a fancy way of saying rub the turkey all over with salt (plus I also used minced dried Morita chiles and garlic). Then letting it sit overnight uncovered in your refrigerator.
Make an aromatic broth for the smoked Thanksgiving turkey to cook in
You then place it in a disposable aluminum pan with some stuff that will make it taste really good and will give you the base for your gravy, so we’re talking onions, carrots, celery, herbs, and chicken broth.
You also want to soak two large handfuls of hickory chips for at least 30 minutes. Soaking them will keep them from burning up too quickly on the hot charcoals and infusing the turkey with delicious, hickory flavor. Side note: you can use other types of wood chips for slightly different flavor; apple wood, mesquite, cherry are all good.
The trickiest part is maintaining an even temperature on your grill. This is pretty easy to do if you are using a gas grill but with charcoal you will have to keep monitoring the temperature with a grill thermometer (you can go fancy or cheap) and adding more charcoal so it stays hot enough. Once you light the coals, let them get good and hot and covered with gray ash. Arrange them on one half of the grill and put a medium disposable aluminum pan in the middle filled with water. This will help keep the bird moist, maintain the temperature, and be a drip pan.
Start with the turkey breast-side down so it doesn’t dry out the breast meat then, halfway through, flip it breast-side up and cook the rest of the way until the internal temperature reads 170°F.
The gravy is made from the smoky juices of the smoked Thanksgiving turkey plus extra minced dried Morita chiles, fresh thyme leaves, and white wine. I use the fatty pan drippings and make up for any necessary fat with olive oil so it is a dairy-free gravy, feel free to substitute butter if you’d like.
What more would you like to know about cooking a turkey? I want you to give it a try so if you need help I am here for you. I have cooked so many turkeys in so many ways so shoot….what you got? Here are a few other ideas to mull over: