The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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It Doesnt Get Better Than This

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I’ve already posted a blog entry on brining a turkey. In this short entry I plan to reinforce just how good a brined turkey is and also that practice makes perfect.. If you are interested more in the brining process check out this entry: A BRINE TIME WAS HAD BY ALL. Let me just cut to the chase and say that this years turkey was my best ever and seemed to be almost effortless. This blog will describe getting to that point.

First off: until I am shown otherwise I think bringing is simply the best way to prepare a turkey. Period. I don’t ever plan to cook a turkey without brining it. Brining adds moisture and flavor to the bird and gives you a bit of a cushion in case you over cook the bird. One way I can tell is people who normally went for the dark meat are now eating the white meat because it is not all dried out. Also eating Having the right brine container and knowing just how much to make has simplified this process immensely. The first time you brine in a new container you might want to test drive the brine container to make sure the quantity in your brine recipe will make enough to fully cover the bird. The only hiccup I’ve had involved my walking away from the stove and having the pan with the brine come to a boil and boil over faster than I can blink. The hour or so of cleanup after this miscue will hopefully cause me to think twice before walking away from the stove.

The second item contributing to my best bird ever is experience. Having made a couple dozen turkeys on the grill and smoker, I now know what to expect. I know the little wrinkles in the process. Keeping cooking logs with the time and the temperature is a big help when trying to time the completion of the other dishes. This year the turkey finished within 2 minutes of the ending time I projected the night before. Knowing the time it takes on your rig under various temperature conditions is very worth while. You can decide ahead of time what time to tell the guests to arrive.

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Key to a good turkey dinner is the quality of the turkey itself. Well duh you may be saying, but some people don’t pay attention to the details and suffer. I have been using all natural fresh turkeys for the last 4 or 5 years. Every year I now get my order in for a fresh turkey. That way I am no frantically picking through the leftover turkeys in the weights no one wants. Just remember to pick up your turkey early

Another contributing factor was a new (for me) carving method. Instead of slicing the breast meat while it was still on the carcass, I cut the breast meat off and then cross cut it. I had seen this method several times but stuck with what I knew. Just before I had to toss the bird on the smoker I saw Aalton Brown recommend this method. One of the things he mentioned was this allowed you to cut across the detached chunk of breast meat resulting in more tender slices. All I know is this years bird was my most tender and juicy turkey yet.

Lastly knowing your grill or smoker is important. Once again the logs can help you recall when you added more charcoal, or flipped the turkey or added more wood to the smoker. I also put notes in about the little things that come up, or the mistakes I might have made. You will always make mistakes here and there, but at least you won’t repeat the same mistake twice. Having experience with my smoker allowed me to keep the temps around 225 (110 C) plus or minus 2 or 3 degrees (1 or 1.66 C). The only time I let is go higher was when I was getting ready to flip the bird from breast side down to breast side up. Even with a helper lifting the lid for me to minimize, the time the lid is open to the elements can cause a 30, 40 or 50 degree (16, 22 or 28 C) temperature drop depending on the weather. So now I run up the grill temps just before flipping the bird. Since you are starting higher, the temps you dip down to will also be higher.

All of these items coming together contributed to my making my best turkey ever. It took several attempts and some time to get here but now I think no more of making a turkey than I do hamburgers or hot dogs. You really should try a turkey on your grill or smoker. If you are interested in reading some more about the process, here are some links to past blogs.
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SOME RELATED LINKS:
  KEEPING A COOKING LOG Blog Entry
  SMOKED TURKEY Blog Entry
  A BRINE TIME WAS HAD BY ALL Blog Entry


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