“Barbecue may not be the road to world peace but it’s a start.” – Anthony Bourdain

To paraphrase Mother Goose “Hey, diddle, diddle; The Cat and the Fiddle; The Turkey flew over the moon. The Little Dog laughed to see such sport. Someone caught it on their smart phone, posted it to social media venues where it immediately went viral. In a rush to judgement he was labeled avian-phobic and incurred the fury of PETA and bird lovers everywhere. The Little Dog’s pet food sponsor caught it and, bending to popular opinion, fired him as their spokesdog. Having no other marketable skills the Little Dog lost the lease on his Little Dog house and was last seen trying to eke out a meager existence on the mean streets of Greeley.

To revisit the third line of the poem…the one about the turkey jumping over the moon…we are being reminded ad nauseum of July 20th being the 50th Anniversary of USA’s astronauts landing on the moon. I saw a questionnaire the other day in the paper (we’ve had this talk) posing the question “Where did you watch the landing?” I didn’t actually get to watch it as I was bobbing around somewhere in the South China Sea and our cable TV didn’t work out there. Instead, we learned of the landing the next morning via the ship’s bulletin. But I DID get to see a piece of the moon the following year when we had the opportunity to visit Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan. There were 78 countries represented, covering 820 acres and attracting over 64 million visitors. My most vivid memories were of the Soviet Union’s pavilion featuring a display of their military might, a slightly blurred memory of the German beer garden (I still have a stein as a souvenir) and the single biggest attraction which was a chunk of rock roughly the size of my fist…a piece of moon rock. “Ha, ha Redski! We got there first!”

Now, using all that as segue, let’s talk turkey. The latest issue of the Bull Sheet (the monthly publication of Kansas City Barbecue Society) featured an appeal from The American Turkey Federation to include turkey in the KCBS sanctioned competitions. Which leads me (finally) to this month’s chat…smoking turkey that (he said optimistically) will be out of this world…hence the reference to the 1969 lunar landing. Just to add another note of patriotism, I think it was founding father Ben Franklin who nominated the humble turkey as our national bird. Unfortunately, they went with the Electoral College rather than the popular vote and the turkey lost out to the bald eagle. That, by the way, was not substantiated by Snopes.

I told you of the misadventure of my first experience trying to fry the turkeys. Last year I smoked a whole turkey that turned out pretty awesome…if I might ever-so-humbly say myself. Previous attempts at smoking turkey breasts have been a bit less stellar…in no small part due to equipment difficulties (my fragile male ego won’t allow me to suggest “operator error”). But, not at all unlike Walt Disney, I’m undaunted by failure. This weekend I’ll try another 20 to 30 pounds. And the formula will be to inject it with Cajun seasoning (bottled and bought…not the stuff I have to mix up myself that led to the near disaster of so many years ago); then the rub applied; then smoked with apple and hickory pellets; shredded and served. Final outcome to-be-determined.

Star date: Monday, July 15, 2019. 75-ish people fed to rave reviews. So here’s the recipe for the Cajun rub and injection material:

I purchased the injection material, Creole Garlic, from Cabela’s.

The rub recipe came from Steven Raichlen’s The Barbecue Bible.

  • ¼ cup coarse kosher or sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp. ground celery seed
  • 2 Tbsp. dried thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 to 3 tsp. cayenne pepper to taste

Thoroughly mix all the ingredients. Apply a thin coat of binder (vegetable oil, yellow mustard, Q-Glue) and apply the rub liberally.

The smoker was pre-heated (at 3:00 AM…much to the neighbors with the open bedroom windows delight) to 325⁰ F. My own spousal unit recently commented that our house always smells of barbecue…that she burns candles to try to get rid of the odor. And here I thought that was an enhancement! But I digress. The turkey went on at 3:30; was sprayed with apple juice every hour and a half, turned over and rotated (top shelf to bottom shelf and bottom to top) at 2 hours; and pulled from the smoker at 165⁰ internal temperature.

There you have it…a suitable celebration of another milestone in our nation’s history. I served it with potato salad and Delta slaw and the crowd went (a subdued variation of) crazy. Zero leftovers. That had never happened before.

On that note I’m pullin’ the plug on this episode. Enjoy the balmy weather…the holidays and “I’m dreamin’ of a white Christmas” are a mere five months away. In the meantime, keep the barbecues goin’ and I’ll see ya through the smoke.