I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons. It’s like a primer for Christmas, and is the best way to kick off the holiday season. But that Turkey, tho. That thicc, juicy gobble gobble just ready to eat – I can’t help myself! And, cooking is almost the BEST part, and can’t be done without a bottle of wine, a six pack, maybe even shots of tequila (I live in South Texas, so it’s okay) while I wait for that holy bird to be donezo! So, how do you cook your bird?
Over the years I’ve changed. I used to love frying everything, even Twinkies… Did I say I’m from Texas? But seriously, I could handle anything fried – never gained more than what I couldn’t handle through all of those many gallons of peanut oil, or whatever floats your, um… meat. Frying turkey was no problem. It was my favorite for years, and truly is a wonderful way to devour a turkey. I might even say I invented the fried turkey. *I might* It’s easy, just set 3 gallons of peanut oil at 375 in a tall pot, lower the bird and fry till it ‘looks done’. And OMG, fried turkey is amazing.
But now, I’m 44 and starting to notice a couple extra pounds hanging out where it shouldn’t, parts of me not the same and don’t work the same. So it’s time to fix that! Time to throw the fryer out – enter the smoker! Ok – if you’ve read this far, just keep going… It’s gonna be worth it.
So I’ve been smoking for about a year now, and I can smoke anything. I’ve tried almost every smoker there is, too. If you have the ability to do it, I recommend getting yourself a Traeger. You just set the temp, load up your hopper with the flavor of wood pellets, put whatever you want to eat in, and let it go (translate: kick back with some buddies and an ice chest of your favorite beverage till it’s done). Thanks to my friend Tom Grube up in Kansas City, he got me hooked and now I’m loving life just a little better.
Smoking a turkey is pretty simple, and all you gotta remember are a couple of things. Crispy skin and 165 degree in the center of the breast. 164 degrees and you’re dead the next day – so be careful about that temp. That’s it. How do you make it come out like that without under or over cooking? Follow my recipe as close as you want, and it should be good to go.
OK, let’s do this. First, how big’s your bird? Let’s go with 18 pounds. Get your smoker to 200 degrees. While that’s happening, take your thawed bird out and pat it dry. Slap it with a napkin about a hundred times, as if you’re giving some sort of show at your local Renaissance Fair. You might even get some spectators! Once he’s nice and dry, take a stick of butter and rub it liberally all over. This will help with the crispy skin. Next take your favorite seasoning or ‘rub’ and give it a good coating. I like Traeger’s poultry rub. The butter will help that stuff stick. Then, stuff it with some Rosemary, Thyme, Herbs, a lemon, orange, and lime – you know the fruity stuff. Finally, take the legs and tie them together. This will help it cook the legs more slowly.
Shove him in the smoker and let it go for 2 hours at 275 degrees. This will infuse the smoke into the skin and meat. And for smoke, go with something light, like applewood. Two hours in, rotate the bird (to help it cook more evenly) and give it a spritz of melted butter, and every hour after that. Finally, crank up the heat to 350 degrees and let it go until it hits 165 degrees in the center of the breast, which could be another 3-4 hours, depending on the size. That 350 will crisp up the skin real good-like! Don’t rely on the pop-out thing that comes with the bird. Instead, use a Thermo Pen. Red ones with the Dataseti logo work the best.
So there you have it my friends, the Dataseti smoked turkey. Feel free to send us pictures of your smoked bird this Thanksgiving! If you do, we’ll give you 1 free hour of consulting for every 2 you purchase! How cool is that?
Happy Thanksgiving and be safe!
– Randall Reed, President & CEO, Dataseti