OK, so it’s the day before Thanksgiving and you’re scrambling for a quick and easy way to put a turkey together. Look somewhere else. I don’t do that sort of thing. I smoke turkeys. They take upwards of ten hours to prepare.
That said, it’s late and I have to get up in a little more than four hours tomorrow morning to catch a flight, so I’ll give you the very abbreviated version of my turkey preparation ritual.
- 1 Butterball turkey — I like to get about 1lb. per person
- 2 bags of oak wood chips
- 1 Brinkman water smoker
- 750ml Signatory Vintage Islay 5yr single malt Scotch Whisky
If you live in LA, you can find this particular bottle of scotch at the Wine and Liquor Depot. It should run you about $20. If you live outside of LA you’re on your own.
- Two days before you want to cook your bird, put the wood chips in to freezer bags and start soaking them in the whisky. No, I’m not kidding.
- Thaw the turkey out. Don’t brine it. That’s why you got a Butterball — they come pre-brined.
- One day before you want to cook your bird, make sure that you have an arseload of charcoal. You don’t want to run out. Trust me.
- Build a good fire. That was fun, wasn’t it.
- Set the smoker up over the fire. Pour the whisky remaining in the woodchip bags in to the water pan.
- Put the turkey in the smoker. Make sure you have a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey’s leg.
- For the next ten or twelve hours, do the following:
- When the smoker reports being colder than the “ideal” temperature, add charcoal.
- When the smoker reports being hotter than the “ideal” temperature, don’t.
- When there isn’t so much smoke coming out of the smoker, put a few more wood chips on the fire.
- Enjoy a quiet day doing something simple and rewarding.
- Once the thermometer reports that the turkey has reached the appropriate internal temperature (which I can’t remember off the top of my head — maybe 170? 180?), take it off the smoker, cut it up and eat it.
I’ve done this four times now, and it’s made me quite happy each and every time.