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Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey on Weber Smoker

For Thanksgiving this year I decided to try something a bit different in cooking the turkey.  I'm going to smoke it on my Weber Smokey Mountain smoker (aka 'WSM' to fans of this device).  I procured a 13.5 pound fresh turkey and brined it for about 48 hours.  There are a whole bunch of brine recipes on the interwebs - basically it's a couple gallons of water, a cup or two of salt, and in my case, some pickling spice.  (Next time I'm going to try honey in the brine).

So now to get this thing cooking.

I'm using the 'Minon Method' to heat the coals in the WSM.  First we heat maybe 20 or so coals in an inverted chimney.  Why inverted?  I think just because you have less coals and they're easier to handle in the more shallow bottom of the chimney.

Or, it's just because it's a little kooky to do it this way.

You can see my coals are ready to go, and you can see the bottom of the WSM in the background.  I have some chunks of apple and hickory wood(s) mixed in with the coals.

The Minion Method just means filling the bottom with coals, and then putting some heated coals onto them.  The idea is that, unlike the Weber-recommended method of heating them all at once, the coals will gradually heat and burn over a longer time period - up to 15 hours depending on the temperature.

From my perspective, it's just a lot easier to do this way.  Who wants to mess with putting more coals into the smoker part of the way through?

With the coals hot, we just dump them into the bottom of the WSM.  I try to distribute them evenly, but it's not critical.  They will all get hot eventually.

Be careful if you have a camera in one hand and a chimney full of hot coals in the other!

Put the middle part of the WSM and the middle grill onto the base.

I usually use the Weber bowl with water in it when I smoke, but this time I'm using a foil drip pan instead so I can catch the turkey drippings to make gravy with.

You can see the smoke already.  Yeah buddy!

It's actually pretty acrid - you don't want to keep your head over the thing for too long.

Now we put the cooking (top) grill on and put de turkey on eet.

Wow.  That turkey sure looks white.

Put the lid on and smoke away.

I started with the bottom vents all the way open, and by the end, I had only one vent open a couple of millimeters, and the other two closed.  The top vent stays open the whole time.

This picture shows why some folks call this thing the 'Weber Bullet.'  Looks more like a big lozenge to me...hmmm.

The Weber Lozenge.

I've cooked beer can chicken on the smoker before, but not a bird this large. I hope this works.

Usually when you smoke meats, you cook them for a long time over low heat.  That's in order to break down the fat - as in a beef brisket or beef ribs.

But poultry isn't fatty like that, so I'm cooking at a higher temp - I kept it between 275 and 300° F.  I didn't know exactly how long it would take to cook - it wound up being about 3.5 hours.

After a couple of hours, I put foil over the breast and the wings so they wouldn't get over done - just as you would when oven roasting.

I also spritzed the bird several times with apple juice.

Here's the finished turkey!

The skin is crisp and it as a wonderful  reddish-brown color from the smoke.  I cooked to the standard 160° F in the breast and 180° in the thigh.

At this point, I was ready to slice a hunk off and try it!  But I took it off the smoker and let it sit on a platter for about 20 minutes before I carved it.

Now this is a funny picture, huh?

I call this photo-art "Portrait of a Turkey."

Here's our smoked turkey ready to be carved.

That's a thing of beauty!

My Thanksgiving dinner.

Smoked turkey, mashed potatoes with celery root and mascarpone cheese, cornbread stuffing, and Mount Vernon asapargus ragoo. And gravy made from the turkey drippings.

This was the best turkey I ever cooked.  Really juicy, flavorful and a nice amount of smokiness.


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