Smoker Tips

Turkey comes out great when smoked at 275-300 degrees, so well that there's really no need to cook it low and slow. I've had trouble reaching the higher smoker temperature in my vertical electric water smoker, but I found that if I kept the water pan empty I got better results. When the water pan is empty, it's important to place another pan under the turkey to catch drips, otherwise the juices will burn in the bottom of the dry water pan. Either put the turkey directly in a pan, or place a pan on the lower rack, with the turkey on the upper rack.


If using a charcoal smoker, use plenty of lit charcoal to get the temperature up. Adjust the vents as necessary to control the temperature.

Use a good remote thermometer to monitor the turkey internal temperature. If you just have one, use it in the breast. Better yet, use in the breast and the second in one of the thighs.

If at all possible, don't use charcoal lighter fluid, and don't use the "Match Light" types of charcoal. Use a charcoal lighting chimney, and your turkey won't taste like petroleum.



Grill Smoking Tips

Turkey can also be smoked in your charcoal or gas grill. Use the indirect grilling method - heat to the sides, and no heat directly underneath bird. Adjust the gas valves, or add charcoal as needed to maintain the desired temperature.




Preparing The Turkey

Thaw frozen turkeys in the refrigerator, over several days. It can take up to 5 days to thaw a big one. Alternatively, thaw the turkey in a sinkful or cooler full of cold water. Don't allow the water to rise above 40 degrees. And never thaw a turkey at room temperature.


Once thawed, trim off fat deposits and remove the giblets, neck and whatnot from the body cavity and from under the neck skin. Rinse well, inside and out. Separate the skin from the breast area. The breast meat will brine more thoroughly, and you'll be able to rub dry seasonings directly on the meat. After seasoning, reposition the skin and secure with a few toothpicks.