Saturday, November 29, 2014

NEW RECIPE: Fragrant Smoked Turkey (Happy Thanksgiving!)

© Constantine William Spyrou

I hope everyone was able to have a great Thanksgiving with family and friends! Whether you were on vacation and had a cool meal together, or got together with lots of family and massive amounts of food, I hope it was special. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a special time, regardless of where you are.

This year, our family hosted a couple of family friends over, and we had a true feast! There were stuffed pumpkins, cornbread, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, curried butternut squash, and more! I got to be responsible for two of the dishes: A spicy shrimp as well as the turkey! (with help from Mom of course)

I've seen barbeque restaurants smoke turkey before, and with the smoker that my dad has at home, I wanted to give it a try. To help out with the turkey flavor, I gave it a fragrant rub and a brine beforehand so that the turkey had plenty of flavor that not only would complement the smoke, but also create a brilliant flavor within the turkey! 

Recipe works for a 8-10 pound turkey.

For the Brine:

2 gallons water
1 gallon ice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sea salt
2 lemons, sliced
1/2 cup black pepper corns, lightly crushed
5-6 bay leaves

For the Rub:

1/2 tablespoon smoked sea salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon lemon pepper
1/2 tablespoon sumac
1 tablespoon ground cumin seed
1/2 tablespoon ground ancho chili (chili powder also works here)

For the Turkey:

1 8-10 pound turkey
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound apple wood chips (for smoking)
1 lemon, whole
1 medium-large yellow onion, skinned and quartered
Salt and pepper to season.


1. Combine all of the ingredients for the brine except for the ice in a large pot and bring up to a boil. Pour into a brining bucket or container with the ice in it. Once the brine has cooled in the ice, add in the turkey and leave for at least 12 hours.

2. Combine the ingredients for the rub together and sit for at least an hour to let the flavors combine.

3. The night before you are making the turkey, pat dry the turkey and season the inside of the cavity. Lift up the skin covering the breasts, and cover partially with the dry rub. Cover, and let it sit overnight.

4. The morning you are making the turkey, set up the smoker. As that is happening, remove the turkey from the fridge.

5. Season the inside of the cavity of the turkey, and stuff in the quartered onion and lemon.

6. Cover the entire outside of the turkey with the rub on both sides. Add in your olive oil and rub the turkey. This will prevent the skin from burning in the smoker.

7. Place your turkey in the smoker, and cook at an ideal temperature (around 225 degrees F) for roughly 40-50 minutes per pound. (We smoked our 8 pound turkey for 5 1/2 - 6 hours, for example).

8. Serve with all the trimmings!

This turkey gets a lot of strong flavor from the smoke and the rub on it. The onion and the lemon not only impart flavor, but also steam the turkey from the inside as well, keeping it very moist as it comes out of the smoker. All of the fat rendering out also makes this a healthier version of this Thanksgiving centerpiece!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

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