Thanksgiving usually means turkey will be served, and for the most part, a simple roast turkey will be on the table. But have you ever considered last minute smoked turkey recipes? Probably not.
Some people deep fry their turkeys because it is faster (under an hour) and gives a really crispy outside and juicy meat on the inside. There are other last minute turkey recipes to consider, such as those that infuse the bird with a smoky flavor thanks to wood chips. Surprise company with this twist on the typical Thanksgiving menu and try a smoked turkey this year to surprise guests with.
Smoking a turkey will appeal to those who enjoy grilling food, so pass that task off to the one in the house who likes to do that. A real smoker will give the best, and juiciest, results, but grilling is fine, too, and gets the job done.
Smokers run anywhere from $99 to thousands of dollars, so it really depends on your needs and wants. But a lower priced smoker does deliver good smoke flavor and juicy meat. Cooking turkey this way is fun, different, and will give a whole new taste sensation that is unexpected but that will be savored.
Thanksgiving Last Minute Recipes: Smoked Turkey
These recipes use a grill, but really use either one in a smoker or on a grill. It all depends on what you have available. The preparation of the turkey is the same. And don’t be afraid to get creative.
Come up with your own spices because the flavor of the wood chips used will have a lot to do with how the turkey tastes. Use good, quality wood chips and try to avoid any that are processed chemically because that will transfer onto the turkey.
Applewood Smoked Turkey
If you have ever had Applewood smoked cheddar, imagine that flavor but with turkey. You will need: 4 cups applewood chips, 1 fresh or frozen turkey, thawed, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon chopped each of thyme, oregano, sage (less if you find sage too strong), 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped carrot, 1/2 cup chopped celery.
Soak the wood chips in water for one hour, and then drain well. Combine the oil and the other seven ingredients (through to garlic powder) in a bowl. Rub oil mixture under loosened turkey skin and over breasts and drumsticks.
Tie the legs together with a kitchen string. Place a cup of water, onion, carrot, and celery in the bottom of a large aluminum foil roasting pan. Place the roasting rack in the pan. Place the turkey breast-side up.
To prepare the turkey for indirect grilling, remove the grill rack. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat using both burners. After preheating, turn the left burner off (leave the right burner on). Place two cups of wood chips on the heat element on the right side. Replace the grill rack and place the roasting pan on the grill rack over the left burner.
Cover and grill for three hours or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh hits 165°. Make sure to turn halfway through the cooking time. Add the rest of the wood chips halfway through. When it is done, let it stand on a cooling rack for one hour, tented with foil.
Honey Brined Smoked Turkey
For this recipe, use the directions above for grilling or use in a smoker, but this turkey is brined ahead of time, which makes the turkey even juicier. Add smoking for hours on top of that, and this bird will be a major crowd pleaser.
To brine, you will need:
- 1 gallon of hot water
- 1 pound salt
- 2 quarts of vegetable broth
- 1 pound of honey
- a bag of ice
- 1 turkey, with giblets removed
- Vegetable oil, for rubbing turkey
Combine the hot water and the salt in a 54-quart cooler. Stir until the salt dissolves, which will take a minute. Stir in the vegetable broth and the honey, and then add the ice and mix. Place the turkey in the brine mixture, breast-side up, and cover with cooler lid. Leave overnight, or for 12 hours. Remove the turkey from the brine and dry completely with paper towels. Rub the bird thoroughly with the vegetable oil, and then smoke according to the above recipe or the instructions that come with your smoker.
Brown, A., “Honey Brined Smoked Turkey,” Food Network web site, November 14, 2016; http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/honey-brined-smoked-turkey-recipe2.html, last accessed November 17, 2016.
“Applewood-Smoked Turkey,” My Recipes web site; http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/applewood-smoked-turkey, last accessed November 17, 2016.