Category Archives: turkey

Time To Brine!!!

Ah yes! Once you have experienced a brined turkey, it is hard imagining having turkey prepared any other way. I did a post last Thanksgiving on brining a bird, and subsequent posts on brined pork. Here are links to some of the better turkey brines I have tried:

http://articles.sfgate.com/2004-11-17/food/17454587_1_brined-turkey-big-bird-larger-bird/2

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Orange-Turkey-Brine/Detail.aspx

http://bbq.about.com/od/turkeybrinerecipes/tp/10turkeybrinerecipes.htm

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

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Filed under Brine, grill, Kingsford, Smoker, turkey, Weber

All BLOGged Out?

It has been a while since I have posted, but certainly not a result of resting the grills or being otherwise lazy. I have been repeating some recipes lately, and doing some basic stuff like BBQ’d chicken and burgers.

With old friends in town it was my time to demonstrate grilling prowess, or, in the worst case, look like uncooked cabrito (an inside joke). Failure wasn’t an option so I endeavored to create a convergence of distinct flavors, without overemphasizing any one of them individually. Turkey breast has a wide appeal and is lean, but it seldom done with a sweet flavor for some unknown reason. Defying convention, I rubbed a Butterball young turkey breast the night before with John Henry’s Sugar Maple Rub Season which is heavy with sugar and brown sugar (I like brown sugar better since it doesn’t caramelize as quickly as refined sugar). I hit it again Saturday morning when it came out of the ‘frig to warm to near room temperature.

As turkey lay on the counter in wait of heat and smoke, I loaded up the side rails of the trusty Weber Kettle Grill with lump charcoal. Lump charcoal has a more distinct flavor than briquets, but not excessively strong like straight mesquite or oak. I put in more charcoal than normal since I needed four hours of steady heat and lump charcoal burns faster the briquets.

A little history on charcoal courtesy of Wikipedia:
Charcoal is the black residue consisting of impure carbon obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood, sugar, bone char, or other substances in the absence of oxygen (see pyrolysis, char and biochar). The resulting soft, brittle, lightweight, black, porous material resembles coal and is 50% to 95% carbon with the remainder consisting of volatile chemicals and ash. The charcoal briquette was first invented and patented by Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer of Pennsylvania in 1897 and was produced by the Zwoyer Fuel Company. The process was further popularized by Henry Ford, who used wood and sawdust byproducts from automobile fabrication as a feedstock. Ford Charcoal went on to become the Kingsford Company.

In about 45 minutes, and with the help of my new battery powered yard blower, the coals were ready. I put the turkey breast on center grill, and for the other chosen flavoring, covered it in thick, peppered bacon. Coffee wood, the final ingredient, is great for adding a mild smoked flavor. Several chunks were placed on the lump charcoal burning in the side rails on either side of the grill, and the grill lid was put on with the vents about 2/3 open.

Four hours later and two bastings of olive oil, we were good to go. I removed the bacon, and put the bird in a throwaway pan covered with aluminum foil. This all went into my trusty cooler to keep things warm during the 50 mile trip to Ft. Worth.

We had a great time in Ft. Worth visiting old friends, the Morans and Hassons, enjoying libation and eating finger food. The turkey was a hit and I avoided being a goat (cabrito).

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Filed under coffee wood, grill, Indirect, John Henry's spices, peppered bacon, turkey, Uncategorized, Weber

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday, primarily due to the absence of commercialism. Granted the “Black Friday” phenomena has recently become a big deal in our consumer-spending driven economy, but each of us has the option to ignore it, without the consequence of being considered a friggin’ scrooge! Plus, we don’t have the bickering over what originated from Christian truths vs. which pagan holidays have had evil influence (where is the Church Lady when needed most?).

Faith, family, friends and food are my focus, and in that order! Consider the Psalms and other scriptures which point to our faithful Creator’s provision. Consider too that family and community are His gifts to us for organization, structure and protection, based solely on unconditional love and sacrifice.

Our immediate families are on the east coast, Chicago and Germany, so we generally holiday together with friends like the Henderson’s (BBQ buddy Lee) right here in plain ole Plano, Texas. Hearing our kids bantering and catching up, and seeing the flow of their friends in and out of the house is really cool, not to mention the aromas associated with cooking, baking and smoking all sorts of food! We start off Thanksgiving Day with sausage gravy and biscuits (fodder for another post), skip lunch and then gorge late afternoon/early evening on turkeys prepared several ways, smoked ham and all the other major food groups.

Lee Henderson’s specialty is smoked ham (previous post) while mine is brined and smoked turkey. The web has many variations of brines posted, but I really like just a few. This year I am doing a modified version of one submitted to “Saveur” magazine. Trust me on this and do the following:

CREATE THE BRINE:
1 cup kosher salt
1 lemon, halved
1 orange, halved
1 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
4 juniper berries, crushed
4 allspice berries, crushed

Combine dry ingredients in a 12-qt. pot, or large brining bag. Add 1 1/2 gallons cold water and stir. Squeeze lemons and oranges into the brine and add the squeezed halves. Submerge turkey in brine, breast down. (Weight the turkey down with dinner plates if necessary.) Cover pot with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or store in a cooler with ice. Remove turkey from brine, pat dry with paper towels, and let come to room temperature.

Load up the smoker with a heap of Kingsford charcoal (burns best evenly for extended periods). Once the coals are gray, open the vents all the way, put the bird on the grate over the water pan, add hickory chunks, close her up and get a cup of coffee.

About every hour or so baste the turkey with a mixture consisting of a splash of red wine mixed with olive oil. About eight hours later you have smoked a beautiful bird with absolutely moist, tender and flavorful meat. Enjoy while giving thanks.

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Filed under Brine, Indirect, Kingsford, Smoker, turkey, Weber