Use a brine cure to add a new dimension to your next smoked turkey and you’ll have family and friends begging for more. Of course, you’ll need to plan ahead because the combination curing and smoking process takes a minimum of three days. The finished bird sports a rich brown surface and a light pink breast––the flavor is exceptional!
1 (12-14) lb fresh turkey (5.4-6.4 kg)
1 cup pickling salt (312 g)
1/4 cup Prague Powder #1 (68.4 g)
4 tbsp maple extract (60 ml)
2 tbsp liquid smoke, optional (30 ml)
1/2 cup powdered dextrose (68.6 g)
1 gallon chlorine-free water (3.8 L)
polyester stockinette smoking bag
1. Remove the giblets and the neck from the body cavity. Rinse the inside and outside of the turkey with cold running water.
2. Combine remaining ingredients together; stir well to dissolve all ingredients.
3. Spray pump brine into thickest parts of the thighs and breasts (including the joints) to about 10% of the weight of the bird.
4. Pour remaining brine over turkey. place a heavy platter on top to weight it down; cover, and cure for 24 hours at 38°F (3°C).
5. Remove from brine solution and rinse thoroughly under cold running water to remove salt from the surface of the bird.
6. After stuffing the turkey into elastic netting, hang it in a preheated 130°F (54°C) smoker, vents wide open, no smoke for 1 hour.
7. Close the vents to 1/4 open and increase the smoker temperature to 150°F (66°C); apply smoke and hold for 2-3 hours.
8. Close vent, increase smoker temperature to 170°F (77°C), hold until turkey reaches an internal temperature of 155°F (68°C).
9. Remove finished product from smoker, hold at room temperature until internal temperature of the turkey drops to 110°F (43°C).
10. Smoked turkey can be held in the refrigerator up to 1 week or vacuum seal and freeze up to 3 months.
Small critters, such as chickens, pheasants, ducks and rabbits, can be placed directly into the brining solution without pumping.
To get an accurate reading of the internal temperature during the smoke cooking process, insert the probe of a cabled thermometer into the ball and socket joint of the thigh as this part is the last to reach temperature.
The USDA recommends that all poultry products be cooked to 165°F (74°C).