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TURKEY TIME AGAIN
It's getting close to turkey day again. How strange we are to ignore a
tasty, economical source of protein ten months out of the year. Unlike
chicken, which we consume year round, we reserve turkey for that period
between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Surely our tradition drives the turkey
producers up the wall.
Besides tradition, turkeys present a few differences from chicken that make
some folks hesitate. Their large size puts off some people. Even if they
have a large oven and time, not many enjoy turkey seven days in a row.
Then there are those who have a terminal case of over cook when it comes to
turkeys. They consistently turn out turkey breast as dry as a dust devil's
breath. To head off such disasters, they use elaborate schemes involving
aluminum foil, roasting bags and even boiling.
Here is another place where a good grill and a little organized laziness
comes to the rescue. These days it is relatively easy to buy smaller
turkeys or even turkey breasts or thighs, year round.
Therefore there is no need to cook so much that you get sick of it before
it is gone. Surprise yourself several times a year with a tasty turkey
dish. The cooking part is easier than taking a nap.
Select a turkey that fits your needs - fresh, if available. I find the
cheaper brands as good as the premium. If it is frozen, carefully follow the
directions for thawing. Trim excess fat and skin and pat dry.
Fire up the grill for roasting - about 350 degrees. Build a good, large bed
of coals and reduce the heat by closing down the air supply. Collect a small
amount - 3-4 pounds of green fruit wood, white oak and hickory.
Sprinkle the turkey inside and out with a mixture of:
Garlic powder 1 teaspoon
Onion powder 1 teaspoon
Celery seed, ground 1 teaspoon
Sage 1 Tablespoon
Thyme 1 Tablespoon
Fresh ground black pepper 1 Tablespoon
Salt 1 Tablespoon
Place turkey on the grill, opposite the coals, breast up. Close the grill
and go away for about an hour.
Check the temperature of the exhaust, look over the coals and put on a few
pieces of green wood. If you must use chips or dried wood, soak in water for
at least thirty minutes.
Maintain the temperature between 300 - 350 degrees with a gentle smoke
floating from the exhaust. Tidy up, close the grill and go rest from your
Check back in about an hour later and insert your handy thermometer in the
center of the thickest part of the bird. When it reads 165 degrees, time is
up. It is done. Remove and let it sit for about 20 minutes before carving.
It should be as juicy as the latest gossip and tender as a baby's sigh.
I am including this 1989 column, as embarrassing as it
is to me, as a warning for all the wannabe turkey smokers.
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Smoky's 5th basic position for really great barbecue'n.
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