Smoking a turkey seems like a task you may not want to be assigned. There’s tremendous downside if your turkey doesn’t turn out. You could potentially have a dozen or so diners waiting on you and if you fail you won’t have time to recover.
This recipe has been attempted several times and it always worked out. It really is the best turkey I’ve had even after years of frying, roasting or buying them.
I smoked two turkeys recently using this recipe. I had 11.5 lb and 14.25 lb turkeys on the same fire at the same time. I unintentionally smoked mine at a higher temperature than the recipe calls for to start with because I was under a time constraint for dinner and couldn’t wait for the fire to cool.
I monitored the fire every 5-10 minutes and plotted the temperatures of the grill and both turkeys. The 14 lb turkey is labeled “Turkey 1” on the graph and the 11 lb. “Turkey 2”. I used a digital iGrill2 thermometer to monitor the temperatures of the birds.
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Ron’s Smoked Turkey Recipe
I used a fresh turkey, actually two, about 12.5 lb. each. Brine it/them overnight by using a ratio of 2 gallons of water with 2 cups kosher salt with 1 cup white sugar. This worked well in a small ice chest. I brined two turkeys and made sure the brine covered the birds. I put some ice in the chest and left it in the garage.
Wash the brine off the birds and let them sit for an hour or so while you prepare the rub. I used my basic barbeque/smoking rub with 10% seasoned salt (Lawrey’s), 20% granulated garlic, and 70% coarse ground black pepper.
Melt a stick of butter (per bird) and mix in a quarter cup of the rub. After washing the bird, separate the skin from the meat while leaving it attached so that you can push the rub mixture between the skin and meat.
Smoke the turkey(s) at 300-325F for about 15 minutes per pound. I smoked the birds for 3.75 hours after the pit reached temperature. Place them breast side up with the breast toward the heat source. (Many recipes cook at lower temperatures, 225-250F, for 30 minutes per pound, but, the higher temperature seems to hold moisture better.) The birds should test 170F in the thick part of the thigh and the breast 160-165F before you pull them off.
Retrieve them from the pit and let them rest breast side down for 45 minutes or so in order for the juices to redistribute. Keep them on a baking pan with a rim. Some of the juice will run out. This resulted in moist and flavorful turkey that really came out well. The cold leftovers are terrific.