Who can resist a smoked turkey?

I know that I can’t!  Not at all.  If you have never tried  to smoke a turkey, do it now and do it again for Christmas.  It is great the day you smoke it, but I like it best the next day cold, for turkey sandwiches!  I am old-school with my sandwiches! Pepperidge Farm white bread, iceberg lettuce, mayo and sliced of smoked white meat!  Below please find some information on smoking and a recipe for smoking a turkey.


Smoking on a Gas Grill
Using wood chips in a gas grill is very easy but takes a little planning.  If your grill has a smoker attachment, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and fill it with wood chips that have been soaked in water or other non-flammable liquid for 30 minutes.  If you don’t have a smoker box, follow these simple instructions: Fill a small disposable aluminum pan with soaked wood chips, remove the cooking grate, and place the pan in the upper left corner of the grill, or at the spot where all the burners come together. The pan of wood chips will be resting directly on the ceramic briquettes, flavorizerbars, or lava rocks.

Preheat the grill with all the burners on high until smoke begins to appear around the edges of the grill. At this time, set the grill for indirect cooking (turn the burners that will be directly under the food off) and turn the other burners down to medium-low heat.  Immediately place the food in the center of the cooking grate and close the lid of the grill to retain the heat and the smoke. You won’t need to add more chips, as one panful is enough to impart a nice smoky flavor to the food.

Note: It is essential that you put the soaked wood chips in a gas grill during the preheat stage.  Once you set the burners for indirect heat, there won’t be enough heat to smolder the chips.  Likewise, if you don’t soak the chips, they will ignite and burn, not smoke.

Smoking on a Charcoal Grill
Using wood chips on a charcoal grill is much simpler than a gas grill.  There is no special equipment necessary; all you do is soak the chips and put a handful directly on top of the white-gray ashed briquettes. The charcoal grill will be set up for indirect cooking with two equal piles of ashed briquettes on each side separated by a drip pan.  If you want just a hint of smoke, only use one handful of chips.  If you want a more pronounced smoke flavor, add a handful or two more, but be careful: Too much smoke will turn the meat acrid and your food will taste more like ashes than smoke.

Note:  There is a barbecue contingent that believes that smoke dehydrates the cooking chamber and steals moisture from the meat.  To prevent any loss of moisture, I usually add some liquid in a drip pan to both charcoal and gas grills.  After all, it can’t hurt and we all know that steam does tenderize and cook food.
*Adapted from Taming the Flame, secrets for hot-and-quick grilling and low-and-slow BBQ

Smoked Turkey 101 (on the Grill)
The drippings of a smoked turkey do not make good gravy.  Roast the giblets and neck bone in the oven to make gravy if you are smoking your bird.

Cooking Method: Indirect/Medium Heat
Serves 10 to 12

14-16 lb. turkey, thawed
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
Wood chips or chunks, soaked for 30 minutes

Preheat a gas grill and add the smoker box full of wet wood chips (see smoking on a gas grill) or prepare a charcoal grill.  Set grill for indirect heat.

Remove the neck and giblets; reserve for other uses or throw away. Remove and discard excess fat. If desired, rinse bird and pat dry. Twist wing tips under back-this is called “wings akimbo.” Brush turkey with oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper inside and out.  If you brined your bird, eliminate the salt and pepper.

Place turkey, breast-side up directly on the cooking grate of a charcoal grill. Add wet wood chips directly to the gray-ashed charcoal briquettes.  Set a drip pan on the charcoal grate directly under the turkey. Place lid on grill and adjust the vents so that 2/3 of them are close on the bottom and the top.

Place turkey on a roasting rack set in a disposable aluminum-foil roasting pan in a gas grill. Bend the roasting pan to accommodate closing the gas grill.

Cook over indirect heat without lifting the lid for at lest 40 minutes to get good smoke on the turkey.  Add more wet wood chips to the smoker box, or to the charcoal as desired.  After 1.5 hours, you won’t need to add any more wood, as the turkey will have developed a nice burnished color and “cooked” skin.

Charcoal grillers will have to add about 12 briquettes to each side every hour, gas grillers don’t need to do any tending. No need to baste, the thin coating of oil will promote browning and keep the juices inside the bird!

Cook 11-13 minutes per pound or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone) registers 180 degrees F and the juices run clear.  Brush smoked turkey with Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze during the final 15 minutes of the cooking time.
Transfer turkey to a platter and let stand for 20 minutes before carving.

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