The Thanksgiving table is traditionally pictured with an oven-roasted, golden-brown turkey positioned front and center, filled with succulent stuffing and surrounded by favorite side dishes. Throw in some pies for dessert, and the average American will recognize that combination as Thanksgiving dinner.
Replacing the iconic oven-baked holiday bird with a smoked one may seem like a radical departure to some, but mesquite-smoked turkey has proven itself a worthy substitute for baked turkey. The rich flavor of smoked turkey is well worth adding to your family feast.
Tips on Preparing Smoked Turkey
For some families, smoked turkey has displaced the “traditional” bird entirely, with the touch of wood- smoked deliciousness proving too mouthwatering to resist. While some barbeque enthusiasts have their turkey-smoking procedures down to a science after years of trial-and-error, those with little or no experience will benefit from some helpful tips.
- Proper Handling
You can use a fresh bird or a thawed one, but never try to smoke a partially frozen turkey. It will not cook evenly and some parts may remain raw — which is not only unappealing but is a serious food hazard. Remember to remove all of the “extras” that are often included inside the turkey (such as the giblets and neck). Rinse the turkey and dry it thoroughly.
- Brine, Inject or Rub?
There are many schools of thought on whether any or all of these methods should be used. If you brine your turkey, it’s extremely important that it remains cold throughout the process. Refrigerating the bird while brining is the ideal way to ensure that it stays at a safe temperature. Injecting the turkey is a way to add another dimension of flavor as well as moisture. And using the seasoning of your choice is another flavor enhancer.
- Don’t Stuff the Turkey with Dressing
Turkeys that are headed for the smoker should never be stuffed. By the time the stuffing reaches a safe internal temperature, the turkey will be dry and overcooked. Instead, you can place onion, lemon, apple, celery, and/or herbs in the cavity. These will add some mass and flavor to the turkey.
Once your turkey has been thoroughly cooked over indirect heat, it should rest before slicing. Adding a smoked turkey to your Thanksgiving repertoire may well become a tradition once everyone tastes its succulent smoke-tinged goodness.
For those who want to enjoy smoked turkey but may not be up to the task of smoking it themselves or simply don’t have the space, time and equipment for such an undertaking, order your masterpiece from Goode Company. This Houston company has deep roots in barbeque and specializes in mesquite-smoked turkey and other delightful Thanksgiving treats. Add a sinfully delicious pecan pie and you’re on your way to creating a true Texas holiday table.