It's almost Turkey Day so let's cut the stuffing and talk turkey. We all want that prize turkey that makes your heart swell with pride the moment you majestically place that golden brown turkey on its crowning pedestal. All you need is that perfect recipe that will also taste like a smoky bite of juicy, mouth-watering poultry heaven. BAM!! Don't you know you can count on us to deliver?
We created magic by slow smoking our Maple and Bourbon Brined Turkey before we brushed her down with butter and cranked up the heat to make that golden-delicious, crispy skin. It will be hands-down one of the most (if not THE most) moist and flavorful birds you've ever fired up. You'd better play it safe and make two.
SLOW-SMOKED MAPLE & BOURBON BRINED TURKEY
PREP TIME: 8 to 12 hours to brine
COOK TIME: 4 to 5 hours
RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Pecan, Hickory or Apple
SERVES: 8 to 10, with leftovers too
1 10- to 12-pound turkey, thawed if frozen
5 quarts hot water
1-1/2 cups kosher salt (if using table salt, cut the amount down to 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup bourbon or apple cider
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 onion, peeled and quartered through the root end
3 to 4 strips of orange peel
3 bay leaves, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole cloves
3 quarts ice
1/2 cup butter, melted
Traeger Pork/Poultry Shake, or salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 orange, quartered
Sprigs of fresh sage and thyme or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand
Sprigs of fresh sage, thyme or rosemary for garnish
Orange wedges, lady apples, or kumquats for garnish
Prepared turkey gravy for serving
You’ll also need: Butcher’s twine (sometimes called kitchen twine)
In a large stockpot or container combine the hot water, kosher salt, bourbon or apple cider, 3/4 cup of the maple syrup, brown sugar, orange peel, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, and cloves and stir until well mixed. Add the ice. Rinse the turkey, inside and out, under cold running water. Remove giblets and discard or save for another use. (Some turkeys come with a gravy packet as well; remove it before roasting the bird.)
Add the turkey to the brine and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours, or overnight. Weight with a a bag of ice to keep the bird submerged.
Note: Do not use a kosher turkey or a self-basting turkey for this recipe as they have already been enhanced with a salt-solution. It will make for one salty bird if you do.
Drain and pat dry with paper towels; discard the brine. Fold the wingtips behind the back and tie the legs together with butcher’s twine. Stuff the cavity with the quartered orange segments and the fresh herbs. (We used fresh sprigs of sage and thyme.)
Start the Treager on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes).
Place the turkey on the grill grate and smoke for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (We don't recommend smoking it for much longer because you don't want poultry to hover for very long in that dangerous bacteria-prone temperature.)
Meanwhile combine the melted butter and the remaining 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Brush on the bird and sprinkle very lightly with Pork/Poultry Shake or salt and black pepper.
Set the temperature to 350 degrees F and roast the turkey for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh is 165 degrees F. (Use an instant-read meat thermometer - you've just gotta have one.)
If you don't want the turkey skin to get as dark, only brush the butter-maple syrup mixture on for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
Let the turkey rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving. Garnish, if desired, with fresh herbs and/or orange slices or kumquats.