“Barbecue may not be the road to world peace but it’s a start.”- Anthony Bourdain
Greetings and welcome back to Uncle Tom’s Corner. Aside from a cold snap that led to discovering goose bumps in places I’d long-since forgotten about not much has taken place around Uncle Tom’s Corner. Time will tell how much of a damper the “chill in the air” will have on the Trick or Treaters. And to think, in Wisconsin this is considered ideal “go to the beach and work on one’s tan” weather.
In the last issue I told you about trying to grow a beard; my reasoning being that I’d no longer be required to produce a picture I.D. to buy wine or any other adult beverage. The last time I actually had to show my I.D. it was accompanied by an ever-so-cordial request for registration and proof of insurance from a uniformed gentleman. Nancy Sinatra once sang about “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”. Apparently mine are made for exceeding the speed limit and driving up insurance costs.
Just this morning I sent off the second case of Uncle Tom’s All-Purpose Seasoning and BBQ Rub this week. As I was driving to the post office I thought “Every bottle and case I send out inches me ever-closer to retirement. At this rate I’m only about 30 years out”.
With Thanksgiving coming right up I want to share some ideas for preparing the traditional turkey for smoking.
First, depending on the size of your guest list I’d recommend one or more 10# to 14# turkeys. They cook faster and have better moisture retention.
Second, I’ve had really good luck on the smoker with a spatchcocked bird. Start by removing the giblets and anything else that came with the bird. Whether using shears or a sharp knife the process is a lot easier than it sounds. While you’re at it you might want to remove any excess skin, the “tail knot” and any large fat deposits you run across. The benefit of spatchcocking is the same as the one above…the bird(s) cook faster which results is less moisture loss=juicy turkey.
Once the bird(s) has/have been spatchcocked its/they’re going to be brined for 12 to 15 hours.
Ingredients (per turkey):
- 2 gallons water
- 1 1/2 cups salt
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 head garlic halved
- 4 bay leaves
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 10 sage leaves
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
Bring 4 cups of the water to a boil and add the salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, sage, rosemary and peppercorns. Stir until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
Let the liquid steep for 15 minutes while it cools, then add it to the remaining water.
Meanwhile, thoroughly rinse the turkey (no need to pat dry).
Place the spatchcocked turkey in a container large enough to fit and cover with the brine, making sure it/they is/are completely submerged.
Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 15 hours, rotating the turkey at least once while it brines.
Remove the bird(s) from the brine, rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
Now work your hand under the skin covering the breast and peel it back from the drumsticks and thighs. Whether you choose to use softened unsalted butter, ghee or oil, apply directly to the meat and then apply your favorite poultry rub. I prefer McCormick’s Gourmet Turkey Rub but whatever you like will work just fine. So sprinkle the rub directly on the meat and pull the skin back over it. Don’t forget to season the cavity and don’t forget to “grease up” and season the skin (for a crisp and tasty skin try duck fat as a binder) so it’ll turn a beautiful brown while cooking.
Light your smoker. I like a 50/50 mix of apple and hickory. You’re going for a smoker temperature of 325⁰ and a target meat temperature of 160⁰ in the breast and 175⁰ in the drumsticks and thighs. A loose rule of thumb is 12 minutes/pound of bird so a 14 pound bird would take about 3 hours. Start checking the temperature at around the 2 ½ hour mark. When the temp hits the mark remove the bird from the smoker, tent it loosely with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes. Carve, serve and wait to wallow in the complements certain to come your way. Aside from the adoration of the partakers your well-earned reward will be the tryptophan coma certain to come your way.
That about wraps it up for this issue. Thanks again for visiting Uncle Tom’s Corner. I think that for the next one I’ll include some recipes for side dishes to include the proper way to dispose of Brussels sprouts. One more thing…Monday, 11/11, is Veteran’s Day. Just sayin’. See ya through the smoke.