On Sunday, while I was finishing painting my kitchen, I smoked a 9 lb turkey breast.
It was the first cool weekend of the fall here in NYC and I had a hankering for turkey. It's such a cold weather food, as it’s associated with all the major winter holidays. Turkey for Thanksgiving, turkey for Christmas, New Year's Day too, you can’t get away from it in the winter. Anytime there's a party with a lot of people, turkey is served. I like turkey. I really do. It tastes good. It's healthy, and it's really easy to cook, if you know how.
To smoke the turkey I fired up my Weber kettle. I built an indirect fire on both sides of the kettle using charcoal, maple and hickory wood. I lined the center of the cooker with tin foil to catch the drippings and got the cooker temperature to 250 degrees. Perfect.
I made a paste of butter, sage, thyme, parsley, black pepper and "sugar in the raw." I rubbed this into the bird, under its skin. Now, if you've never done this, you're in for a real treat. You make a small incision between the skin and meat of the turkey and slowly work your hand into it. The idea is to lift the skin from the meat without separating it from the rest of the bird. I find it easiest to do near the neck of the bird.
Now take some of the butter paste and work it into the meat. When you cook the turkey, the butter paste will melt as it seasons and moistens the meat. Be very careful not to rip the skin. The feeling of your hand under the skin as you spread the butter paste is just incredible. If you haven’t tried it yet, go ahead, try it. You’ll always remember your first time. I imagine it’s similar to the doctor’s experience when he gives you a ride on the stinky pinky as he checks your prostate.
One of the things I like about the butter under the skin process is that it reduces the amount of time basting the turkey. This is good because every time you open up your cooker to baste, you lower the temperature in your grill which in turn increases cooking time.
After about 3 hours, the bird was ready. The skin was a dark mahogany color and crispy. I also rubbed some of the butter paste of the skin before I cooked it. The meat was moist and juicy. It had a nice subtle smoke flavor to it. In other words, perfect. Dinner that night was the turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and peas. A great fall dinner.
Yesterday, I stopped in the deli and noticed that smoked turkey was selling for $8.99 a pound. I paid 89 cents. Man, I love being able to cook. So, when I open my restaurant, smoked turkey will defintely be on the menu. It's a money maker!
Next time -- fried turkey!