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TOPIC: Best Turkey Ever Cooked

Best Turkey Ever Cooked 4 years 10 months ago #9583

  • kmuda
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I am well known for my smoked turkey but this year I managed to create the absolutely perfect turkey. Best I've ever done. Flavor all of the way to the bone, tender, and ultra moist. It was perfect. It was the Best Turkey Ever Cooked.



Below is a recipe and process that has been in use by my brother and I over the last 25 years (or so), more or less intact with tweaks over the years trying to reach perfection, with each of us making slight modifications to try and beat the other in making the better turkey. This year, I reached perfection, but the recipe is unchanged from prior years. For perfection, you need cooperation from Mother Nature (correct wind, humidity, dew point and temp). This year, the wind was very calm, humidity was in the mid 60s but the ground was wet from recent rainfall, dew point was in the mid 30s, and temps dropped into the high 20s overnight (my turkey goes onto the grill at 2am).

I don't use a fancy expensive smoker. Just a $45 Brinkman Smoker.



The aluminum foil you see here serves to provide a better seal between the lid and the grill. By improving this seal you cause more smoke (and steam) to stay inside the smoker while preventing an overflow of oxygen which causes the fire too burn to hot.

I have a couple of secrets which I will reveal in totality:

Secret 1: The Brine: You have to brine a turkey to ensure flavor and moisture throughout. I allow my turkey to sit in brine for at least 24 hours, generally shooting for about 36 hours. 48 hours is likely too much. My brine recipe is actually a modified Martha Stewart recipe from 2007:

7 quarts (28 cups) or so of water
1 1/2 cups coarse salt
8 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons black or brown mustard seeds (I've used Yellow when I could not find Brown)
1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds)
1 bottle dry Riesling (or White Wine)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
Handful of Minced Onion
1 whole bunch garlic cloves (all of the cloves inside the bunch), crushed
1 bunch fresh thyme

For the brining process itself, I just use a 5 gallon bucket with double bagged trash bags. It does help if the bucket has a lid.

Secret Two: The Steamer: Smoke is only one method of getting flavor into a turkey. The other is steam. The Brinkman smokers have a steamer pan which sits just above the charcoal. You can kind of see it here, as well as get a better concept of how the aluminum foil is applied:



My steamer is filled with the following:

2 Large cans of beer
2 large Onions cut into quarters
Crushed Garlic (8,9,10 cloves)
Handfull of whole peppercorn
2 tablespoons mustard seed (brown is best but yellow works)
1/2 bottle pick-a-pepper sauce
8 Oz's of Honey
Handfull of minced garlic
Handfull of minced onion
Top off with water

You'll need an extra can of beer to top off after about the first 4-5 hours of cooking. DO NOT let the steamer boil dry. The steam is likely the most important aspect of cooking this turkey. Not only does it impart flavor, more importantly, it cranks up the humidity inside the smoker, helping to ensure the turkey retains moisture. If you are not getting drops of moisture dripping down the insides of the smoker, your turkey is going to be dry.

A couple of tricks to the beer. First off, leave it out of the fridge allowing it to reach room temp. If possible, soak them in hot water for a while to allow it to get to boiling temp quicker. Same with the water; top off with hot water, not cold water. When adding the beer to the steamer pan, first add some water to the pan, open the beer, using a knife, poke a whole in the top opposite the tap opening, the dip the open spout into the water and start to pour out. This will allow you to pour the beer without creating foam, which would cause problems when trying to top off the steamer pan with more water.

Secret Three: The wood: There are many types of wood that can be used. I use Mesquite for my turkey. I've tried apple, hickory, and pecan but over the years I have decided that mesquite provides the best results with turkey. You need the big chunks, not chips. I soak my wood for about 8 hours prior to using it. This ensures smoke, not flame, and the smoke is continuous without overdoing the heat.



Secret Four: Preparing the Turkey: The turkey should be removed from the frig several hours before cooking to allow it to reach near room temperature. I leave it in the brine, I just allow it to warm inside the brine mix. Just before cooking, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well, inside and out. Pat dry, inside and out (I usually start the fire and then remove the turkey from the brine.) Insert one large peeled onion into the body cavity. Take some of the onion and garlic pieces from the brine mix, rinse them, and insert them into the neck cavity. Also take the Thyme from the brine mix, rinse, and shove it into the neck and/or body cavity.

Rub Olive Oil onto all surfaces of the turkey, then rub in Poultry Seasoning. The final step is Fresh Sage and Rosemary. Just tear off the Sage leaves and place them onto the turkey, getting a good covering of the breast with a leaf or two over the thighs as well. You'll need a couple of bunches for this. Stems and left over sage, wad it up into a ball and shove it into the body cavity. For the rosemary, I just place an entire (intact) twig or two along each breast, with the remaining twigs wadded up and shoved inside the body cavity.

Secret Five: Cheese Cloth: Wrap the turkey up like a mummy. You'll need about three packages of cheese cloth to do it right. I generally take 1 pack, cut it into the lengths to cover the turkey front to back and then side to side over the breast, using the other two packs to wrap every thing up well making sure it is secure. You want to take cautions not to brush off the sage and rosemary.

This is an important step. it prevents the turkey skin from getting that "smoked" hardness and it helps ensure the turkey retains moisture.

Secret Six: The fire: It's not just wood on the fire that imparts flavor. I add onion peels, garlic peels, and whole peppercorn to the fire throughout cooking. Initially, I add whatever is left over from making the brine and preparing the turkey when I first start cooking, adding more as it is made available from other cooking going on in the house in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner.

Because I use Mesquite wood, I also use Mesquite Charcoal. I try and find Kingsford Mesquite Charcoal


I fill the charcoal pan with charcoal, douse it with enough charcoal starter to make Eddie Murphy's "Gus" happy (now that's a fire!), let it soak for a couple of minutes and then set it ablaze. While the charcoal is getting going, I prepare the turkey for mummification. I don't add wood to the charcoal until just before the turkey is added. I usually start with 8 or so large chunks that have been soaking for a good while.

Secret Seven: Leave it the hell alone: Once the turkey is prepared and the charcoal is ready, it's just a matter of filling the steamer pan with the identified ingredients, getting everything in and on the grill, and placing the lid. When cooking only one turkey, I place the turkey on the top grill. Once the lid is placed on, don't remove it until you are ready to check the turkey for doneness (or you have to remove the turkey to add more charcoal to the grill - which is how it must be done with some of the grill types, including my current Brinkman). You can stoke the fire, add onion peels, more wood, and such to the fire, through the side door, but don't get anxious and check the turkey (remove the lid) all of the damn time. This will cause you to loose moisture and heat. Because my family eats Thanksgiving Dinner around noonish Thanksgiving Day, my Turkeys go onto the grill at 2am and I generally go back to bed (after ensuring correct temperature), leaving it completely be for the next 4 to 5 hours.

Done right, this cooks over low heat. With the Brinkman grills, the temp gauge should just barely creep into the "Ideal" range. You should basically be able to place your hand on the top of the lid without getting burned. Cooking time is going to vary based upon outside air temp, wind, and the type of charcoal used. I find that my turkeys are generally ready in about 9 to 9.5 hours. Monitor the temp gauge on the grill. When it starts to fall back down, using a second grill (or charcoal chimney), prepare additional charcoal and add to the fire. I find I usually need to add charcoal about 5 hours into cooking. If you have to remove the turkey to add more charcoal (I have to with my current grill), the turkey should remain covered during this process. Only exposed to the air long enough to remove it from the grill and when placing it back.

If it is super windy outside, you may want to cover the bottom section of the grill with aluminum foil, leaving a smaller air gap at the bottom.

You can use a meat thermometer to determine doneness, but I never do. I just cut open the skin between the leg and the thigh, move the thigh around and look for any red in the juice down inside the area I've cut open. The leg should move freely and the juice should be clear.

When done, unwrap the turkey, remove the sage and rosemary covering the turkey, then slice and serve. I find it is generally best if the turkey is allowed to sit, covered with aluminum foil, for 30 minutes or so before carving.

That's it, in detail. The process to cook the Best Turkey Ever Cooked.

Once you do this and people taste it, they will ask you to cook their turkey next year. This is ideal. When cooking two turkeys, place yours on the bottom grill and theirs on the top. That way theirs is dripping down on top of yours. Automatic and constant basting. ;)
120g - Tiger Oscar, Parrot Cichlid, SDs | 55g - 24 Year Old Kissing Gourami
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Best Turkey Ever Cooked 4 years 10 months ago #9585

  • whitneygene
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Thanks for sharing!

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Best Turkey Ever Cooked 4 years 10 months ago #9592

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:lol: :lol: :lol:

That's awesome. That should definitely be your new avatar K. LOL!!

Maybe next year I'll buy a smoker and give your recipe a whirl. I used your brine this year and the turkey came out great so next is the smoker. If I get a turkey this coming spring maybe I'll give it a trial run before thanksgiving. :D
"My Country is the World, and my Religion is to do good." -Thomas Paine
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Best Turkey Ever Cooked 4 years 10 months ago #9610

  • popss
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I smoke allot of pork and beef, never tried a turkey. maybe if give a go Christmas as did prime rib for thanksgiving.
The name Oscar is a Norse baby name. In Norse the meaning of the name Oscar is: Divine spear.
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Best Turkey Ever Cooked 4 years 10 months ago #9613

  • toom
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popss wrote:
I smoke allot of pork and beef


This sounds really nasty if you put it out of its context :lol:
We need to stop talking about the people as if they were the crown of creation.
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Best Turkey Ever Cooked 4 years 10 months ago #9614

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only you toom. only you. :S
The name Oscar is a Norse baby name. In Norse the meaning of the name Oscar is: Divine spear.
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Best Turkey Ever Cooked 4 years 10 months ago #9624

  • kmuda
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Just ate the last of the BEST TURKEY EVER COOKED. The last bites were almost as good as when it first came off the grill. If you cook a turkey where every bite has flavor and that flavor remains after a few days in the fridge, then you must have prepared the BEST TURKEY EVER COOKED.

NOTE: If you discovered this page from a Google search, please go to Page 1 for the recipe.
120g - Tiger Oscar, Parrot Cichlid, SDs | 55g - 24 Year Old Kissing Gourami
55g - Angelfish/Bolivan Rams | 40g GBRs - 20g Apistos
65g Blackwater Planted Discus Tank
4 Cats, 2 Shelties, 1 Rat Terrier, 1 wife, 1 old lady, 1 sub-adult, 1 rug rat.
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Best Turkey Ever Cooked 4 years 9 months ago #10038

  • kmuda
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Merry XMAS Everyone.....

30 degrees.....
74% humidity. ..
Dew point 24
WIND 8MPH

The next.....

Best Turkey Ever Cooked is on the smoker.
120g - Tiger Oscar, Parrot Cichlid, SDs | 55g - 24 Year Old Kissing Gourami
55g - Angelfish/Bolivan Rams | 40g GBRs - 20g Apistos
65g Blackwater Planted Discus Tank
4 Cats, 2 Shelties, 1 Rat Terrier, 1 wife, 1 old lady, 1 sub-adult, 1 rug rat.
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Best Turkey Ever Cooked 4 years 9 months ago #10049

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Well folks, I did it again. :woohoo:

The "Best Turkey Ever Cooked" came out great. Most of the family even said it was better than the Thanksgiving turkey. I personally thought the Thanksgiving turkey was better because I managed to import more smoke flavor into that one. Regardless, once again, super moist, super tasty, and super tender. My brother, with whom I have been in constant competition over the last 20 years (Who makes the best turkey?) has been in town so he finally ate my turkey this year. While he refuses to say it out loud, I think he knows. There was surrender in his eyes. ;) :P

Based upon the emptying of the shelves in my local area of Kingsford Mesquite Charcoal and Mesquite wood chunks (I bought the last bag at my local Harps Grocery Store), I would assume that a lot of my co-workers and towns-mates. with whom I've shared the recipe, tried it this Christmas. If so, they have discovered how to make the "Best Turkey Ever Cooked".

I've got some photos I'm waiting to download to my phone that I will get posted when completed.
120g - Tiger Oscar, Parrot Cichlid, SDs | 55g - 24 Year Old Kissing Gourami
55g - Angelfish/Bolivan Rams | 40g GBRs - 20g Apistos
65g Blackwater Planted Discus Tank
4 Cats, 2 Shelties, 1 Rat Terrier, 1 wife, 1 old lady, 1 sub-adult, 1 rug rat.
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Best Turkey Ever Cooked 4 years 9 months ago #10169

  • kmuda
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Just in case anyone wants to know how the mummified version of The Best Turkey Ever Cooked looks coming off the smoker, here you go. Still all wrapped up.



If you look closely, you'll see little black spots on the top of the turkey. This was a good sign. This means there was so much moisture inside the smoker (primarily from the steamer) that it was accumulating on the grill lid and dripping down. Yeah!

Then, unwrapped, with the sage and rosemary removed, and being carved up to serve.



No such thing as a dry turkey when cooking this way. This was a 23lb turkey and I let it cook for 10 hours. It came out very juicy and tasty. You may need to adjust cooking time slightly based upon outside air temperature, cooking longer if it is much colder and cooking less if it is much warmer. But generally, my turkeys have been ready in 9 to 10 hours.
120g - Tiger Oscar, Parrot Cichlid, SDs | 55g - 24 Year Old Kissing Gourami
55g - Angelfish/Bolivan Rams | 40g GBRs - 20g Apistos
65g Blackwater Planted Discus Tank
4 Cats, 2 Shelties, 1 Rat Terrier, 1 wife, 1 old lady, 1 sub-adult, 1 rug rat.
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