Thanksgiving Turkey Project – Day 3

September 11, 2011

Today we’ll cook the bird.

It comes out of the refrigerator; having brined it and loosened the skin it looks very different than when I opened the package a couple of days ago. It’s definitely a little dry on the outside which should mean some nice crispy skin at the end of the day. I got a little too zealous separating the skin on one side and split it. That’s why I’m doing a development run this weekend; I’m learning not to be so rough.

Out of the refrigerator; ready for the wet rub and cooking
I split the skin here last night when trying to loosen it; ugh.

I take the turkey gravy base I simmered yesterday and placed it in the roasting pan. It will collect the turkey drippings during the cook.

Turkey “soup” gravy base on the cooker while it warms us.

I place a rack over the roasting pan to keep the turkey up high where the hot air can get all around it. I really like this idea; it’s one of the reasons I picked this recipe to try. An additional smoker probe is stuck through a bit of potato in the foreground.
I’ve got that split side facing forward because the front is a little cooler than the back on my cooker.

Turkey on the rack over the turkey gravy base.

I turned the smoker on to “smoke” for 40 minutes then 325* until the breast reaches an internal temperature of 160.

At 11:15, after an hour and 40 minutes, I removed the foil from the legs and wings. The internal temp of the breast is 84 so we are 1/2 way there.
It’s finally starting to look like something edible.

1:40 into the cook
Another view point showing the gravy base on the bottom

I checked the water level again at 12:15; about 2:40 into the cook. The smoker is running around 315* the breast is at 120.

Looking good

At 1:40, 4 hours after starting, the probe registered 160 but checking with the Thermapen revealed a cooler spot so I adjusted the probe and let ‘er go until 2:00. Out it came

The other side
Pan drippings. Looks a little gross but it’s good stuff

While carving I realized once again I need to practice this art. Having loosened the skin so much resulted in it just peeling off. I didn’t get the legs out as easily as I expected. Maybe it wasn’t cooked enough down there; there was a touch of pink on the bottom. The breast wanted to shred like pulled pork and had a nice smoke ring to it. I think next time I’ll cook a smaller turkey (maybe 16 pounds) at a little higher temp, maybe 345.

Carved and ready to serve.

I had plenty of drippings so I made two kinds of gravy. One was just the strained and defatted jus’. The other I made a roux of 3 Tablespoons flour and 3 Tablespoons turkey fat, then added two cups of defatted drippings.

After messing with it for 3 days I barely tasted it. I’ll have some for lunch to see what I think. Jeff came over for dinner and said it was the best turkey he’s ever had. So, I’ll take that as a vote of confidence. I’ll post a follow-up after I reflect on it for a bit.

We finished just in time to go to the neighborhood block party; a real fun event. Having lived here 10 years now we’ve developed some nice friendships with our neighbors. This is a great time to hang out and chat at the end of every summer.

And the highlight is the fire truck comes for a quick display. I was leaving for a church meeting as it rolled in but I got a quick snap.

Local Engine 66 at our block party

They didn’t stay long; what with today being so hot and the 10th anniversary of 9-11 they were pretty busy.

Links to other pages of the project

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