T Caption .
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.