For those looking to switch up their roasted turkey game this Thanksgiving, Chef Dave Harris of Butchertown Hall, Nashville’s popular smokehouse, recommends smoking your bird to preserve flavor, texture, and moisture. Here are Chef Dave’s essential tips for smoking that perfectly seasoned and juicy bird.
How to Smoke a Turkey
A Proper Smoker is Key
Ensure your smoker can fit the entire bird and provides ample space above and around it for airflow. Birds that weigh 8 to 12 pounds work best for this method of cooking.
Brine the Bird
Brine your bird at least 24 hours before you smoke, as it creates a more tender finished result. A brining mixture usually consists of water and salt. You can also add aromatics and seasoning to the mixture for added flavor.
Skip the Stuffing
When smoking a turkey, it’s not recommended to stuff it, as the smoke needs to be able to penetrate the bird’s cavity. This also allows the breast and thighs to remain tender along with an overall more flavorful result.
Say “Yes” to Spatchcocking
Spatchcocking increases the surface area of the turkey, allowing for more rub or flavoring, as well as a faster cook time. Make sure to remove the spine and breastbone. SB TIP: Spatchcocking is a method of splitting and flattening your bird before cooking. The method involves removing the backbone from the tail to neck so the bird can be opened out flat (also referred to as butterflying). Click HERE for a tutorial.
Smoke at a Slow and Steady Pace
Smoke the turkey at a low temperature, between 225 and 250 degrees. A 12-pound turkey will need at least six hours to smoke.
Join the Gravy Train
Place a pan below the turkey to collect the drippings while it smokes. Fill the pan with chopped onions, carrots, celery, and herbs prior to placing it underneath the turkey to create a delicious gravy.
Keep It Crispy
If you’re craving crispy skin, make sure to dry your turkey and leave it in the fridge for a few hours.
Keep Your Smoker Shut
Don’t open the smoker to check on the bird too much as this can dry it out. Instead, use a dual probe thermometer as it measures the bird’s internal temperature and the temperature of the smoker.
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