Holidays in the US are usually spent by having large gatherings with friends and family. It is the only time when everyone can sit together to have quality time. Turkey is typically associated with the occasion of Thanksgiving, which is a celebration for the harvest season. It is a uniquely North American bird, which is the most preferred meal on Thanksgiving. Some people usually hunt their turkeys on their own and enjoy a grill party with their friends and family.
Today, consumers have understood the nutritional value of turkey, which has raised the annual consumption of turkey. In the year 2019, the annual consumption of turkey was 5.3 billion pounds. Smoking a turkey is a trend because no other way of cooking can retain the richness of nutrition and taste of meat. Electric smokers have made it easier to grill a turkey, as managing a 12 or 14-pound turkey in anything else would be difficult.
Tips for smoking a turkey
Here we will talk about a few tips that can help you cook a delicious smoked turkey for your friends and family.
As we are talking about electric smokers, so be wise while choosing the right size if you wish to grill a turkey in it. If your turkey does not fit in properly and the smoker’s lid does not close tightly, all your hard work could go to waste. So chose your turkey according to the size of your electric smoker. 12 to 14 pounds of turkey is an ideal size. It can fit appropriately in the electronic smoker. You can also choose two smaller birds; let’s say 6 or 7 pounds each.
You can easily find frozen turkeys in local stores, or hunting your turkey could be an adventure as well. But, most people prefer buying frozen turkey as everyone does not know hunting. A frozen turkey takes 2 to 3 days to defrost before it is ready to be marinated thoroughly.
It is not advised to leave the turkey at room temperature to defrost, instead; place it in a large tray and put in the refrigerator with all the wrappings.
Cleaning the turkey
Cleaning and washing the turkey can be a tough job if you have hunted it yourself. However, store-bought turkey is usually clean. Still, clean the cavity to remove giblets and neck. You can use giblets and neck for the gravy you wish to serve with your grilled turkey.
Brining the turkey
Store-bought turkey is usually brined, means it is soaked in salty water, and then covered in wrappings. You can never know for how long a turkey is brined, so it is always better to rinse the turkey with cold water, so all the excess salt on the skin is washed off. If you do not rinse, you might mess up the ratio of spices you will use for marination. Too much salt can give your turkey a sour taste rather than a mouth-watering one. In case you wish to brine your hunted turkey, use half a cup of salt and half a cup of sugar for every gallon of water you use to submerge the bird. Make sure not to soak the bird for more than 12 hours, or it will mess with the taste of meat.
Also, remember to pat dry the turkey with paper towels from both inside and outside after rinsing until it dries off completely.
Everyone has a different recipe for smoking a turkey in an electric smoker. Most people use traditional poultry seasonings to give it more of a Thanksgiving taste. You can also use plain salt and pepper, but it is always up to your taste buds. Whatever spice you wish to add, rub 1/3 of it in the bird’s internal cavity and use the remaining to cover the outer layer.
Using wood sticks is always an option for electric smokers. However, recommended wood chips are maple, pecan, and cherry. Maple wood gives a delicate flavor to the meat and is preferred if you want to retain turkey’s natural flavors. Cherry and pecan wood will give a touch of sweetness to the bird, but pecan is much more flavorful.
Temperature and time
Pre-heat the oven at 225F and set the timer for 6.5 hours. There is no need to open the oven door as the timer and temperature are both sets. Most of the electric smokers available in the market have three racks, so place the turkey in the middle frame. If you have a double rack smoker, then place the turkey on the lower shelf. Go through the user manual of the smoker for more guidance. You can start checking the bird’s internal temperature after 4 hours, as until then, most of the cooking is done. Make sure that the thicker parts of the bird are fully cooked and are not left raw.
Once the turkey is ready, you can dish it out and use steamed vegetables and a preferred range of sauces to serve with.