I hope you are having a nice Memorial Day. Please take a moment and honor those that have given all they could so we can celebrate our freedom.
This week’s Smoked Cherry and Apple Wood BBQ Turkey is truly one of those meals that will hold a place in the awesome turkey hall of fame. To be honest, this was one of those OOPS meals. Michelle and I usually talk through and plan what we are going to share with you, this was not the case this week. There are 3 parts to this story.
Part One: Last year I bought my Thanksgiving turkey early just to make sure that I did not have a 24 lb one like the year before. I was on the fence about how I wanted to cook it…kind of torn between two methods I wanted to try. A few days before Thanksgiving I was in the local food distributors store and they were having a sale on turkeys…the 10 to 12 lb size that I like to cook. I bought one and decided that I would cook it at a later date. I took it home and put it in the freezer with the intention to do the experimental turkey cook in 2015 during the summer.
Part Two: April and May this year were FULL. We had 2 graduations in our family (college and high school), one graduation party to attend, and the sad time of my uncle passing and his funeral in south Ga. Needless to say my clan here in the Hinterlands was spending lots of time on the road. Michelle had plans to bake and decorate a graduation cake for the boy child’s graduation, her plan was to bake the cake early in the week and freeze it to decorate on graduation day. Seems that cakes are easier to frost and decorate frozen :), so after said cake was made we needed to put in the the freezer…there was a turkey in the freezer…turkey was moved to the refrigerator with the intent to make room for it in the other freezer. Turkey was discovered in the refrigerator on Graduation day…partially thawed…OOPS….had to cook it.
Part Three: IT was Awesome! I have said before that I love me some turkey and this was no exception. I was going to spatchcock this turkey and time the cooking to see if that method was faster than the “Norman Rockwell” way. Since we have some really fine cool weather I decided to put it in the smoker and go for it. Did my spatchcock and realized that NONE of my grills or smokers were big enough to do the deed, a turkey is a big ole bird…..So, I went ahead and split it into halves and cooked one on the middle rack and the other on the top rack. It did cook faster this way. Since it is Memorial Day weekend, I decided to BBQ it as well as smoke it and to do so, I made a BBQ sauce while the turkey was in the brine…Yes, always brine the bird for at least 8 hours in the refrigerator before you cook it, no matter what method you choose to use. So I will share the brine, as well as the BBQ sauce I made…it’s a three-fer….Woot!
So you ready? And away we GO!
Smoked Cherry and Apple Wood BBQ Turkey for Man Food Mondays
- 1 gallon cold water, plus enough to cover the turkey
- 1 1/2 cups Kosher salt
- 1/3 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1/3 cup coriander
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 to 12 lb turkey
- 2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup ketchup
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons Bourbon whiskey (I use Jim Beam.)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- celery salt
- 2 carrots peeled, halved and cut long ways
- 2 celery stalks with leaves, halved and cut longways
- 2 green onions. trimmed
- 2 lemons sliced rounds 3 rounds for each half turkey
- Apple wood
- Cherry wood
- Lump charcoal
- In a pot large enough to hold the turkey, add 1 gallon of water and all the brine ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes and then allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of your turkey once it is thawed.
- Trim the turkey of the loose skin flaps then rinse the turkey under cold water.
- Once the brine is room temperature add the turkey and enough water to cover the turkey. The turkey will float so use a weighted plate to hold it under the liquid and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours but no longer than 10 hours.
- In a medium sauce pan add the canola oil and heat to medium high.
- Add the green onions and saute for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and 3 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the remaining apple cider vinegar
- Add the ketchup and bring to a slow boil
- Stir in the Bourbon, brown sugar, crushed red pepper and the maple syrup reduce the heat to simmer
- Simmer until thickened, stir occasionally to keep from burning. Taste and adjust until it suits your taste.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and using kitchen shears cut the back bone out of the turkey. Split the breast from top to bottom so that you have 2 halves of turkey.
- Dust each half of turkey with celery salt and Paprika then set aside.
- Prepare the carrots, celery, green onion and lemons.
- Assemble the smoker and bring the temperature up to 325°. Add the wood chips as needed to maintain smoke throughout the cook.
- Maintain a smoker temperature of between 285° and 325° for the duration of the cook.
- Place the turkey in the smoker and let it smoke it for 2 hours.
- At the 2 hour mark baste both halves of the turkey with your BBQ sauce. Cover the smoker and bring it back up to temp.
- Baste the turkey with the BBQ sauce every 45 minutes to 1 hour until the bird reaches and holds 170° internal temp.
- Remove the turkey to a platter and cover with foil for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.
I want to add a couple of notes here. The BBQ sauce is quite spicy, this is mainly due to the crushed red pepper…we like heat, but if you do not then cut back on the red pepper until after you do a taste test. This is also a vinegar based sauce so it may be a little tart for some tastes. The vinegar flavor can be mediated by adding a little more brown sugar and or salt. I suggest adding smallish amounts checking the taste until you get it right. The BBQ sauce took about 4 hours to thicken to my liking…..low and slow makes it better.
Since this was a meal for just Michelle and me, there was very little stress to get it done on “time”. I find that if I am cooking for guests I sometimes get a little antsy as meal time draws near. Not so today. We served this with baked sweet potatoes, green beans and a salad. We had a nice crisp off brand pinot grigio wine that fit really well.
As I said this was an OOPS meal…and boy howdy did it turn out great!
Have a safe holiday, and see you next week.