Thanksgiving 2011 – Preparation

We had a great Thanksgiving this year. I took Wednesday off to prepare the turkey. Based on my experiment in September my cooking plan went like this

  • Tuesday night: prepare the brine; cool overnight
  • Wednesday morning: put turkey in brine
  • Wednesday afternoon: prepare the drip pan gravy; make cornbread for stuffing; oil the new cutting board; move furniture
  • Wednesday night: remove turkey from brine and put in fridge over night to dry out.
  • Thursday: cook the bird; reduce the drippings and make the gravy

The brining and other prep went much better this time compared to September. I used an Alton Brown recipe for the brine instead of the Amazing Ribs recipe which called for 7 cups of salt (insane). Plus the gravy just wasn’t that tasty. I think next year I’m going to just get a Butterball and cook it in the smoker just like I would in the oven. 

Pictures and descriptions of the preparation.
Tuesday night
Brine ingredients


Brine ready for cooling in the refrigerator overnight

I use a 5 gallon insulated drink cooler for the brine. This is like football teams use on the sidelines. It’s great; the temp stays below 32 for hours. I weight the turkey down with a milk jug filled with ice. It takes a long time to break ice cubes down to a size that will fit through the opening. There’s got to be an easier way.

Turkey in the brine. Weighted down by a milk jug of frozen water.


Pan drippings setup


Simmer the vegetables and aromatics with the turkey neck


Cool overnight. I’ll microwave it Thursday before putting it in the roasting pan


My new cutting board! I treated it with mineral oil


Corn bread mixings


The cornbread; just short of burned. This will be turned into dressing for the turkey


Add some thyme and sage to olive oil overnight before rubbing. 
Turkey out of the brine and drying out a bit in the refrigerator. You can see I tore the skin a bit trying to loosen it for the wet rub underneat


Wet rub and aromatics

 Smoke for 45 minutes then cook at 340 until the breast registers 160*

Onto the smoker. On a rack over a roasting pan holding the gravy


Set the tables


After 45 minute sof smoke; add some aluminum foil to legs and wings for protection


An hour later remove the foil 


Leave the lid closed a few hours. If you’re lookin’ you ain’t cookin’ 


All done!

I was ridiculously pleased with my carving this year. I sliced the breast differently; take it all off then cut sideways.




Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. I’m not a fan of turkey; but this is good.

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