The Adventure Begins
The occasion was the Jewish new year, and I had a total of 17 people to feed. My mother suggested a “smoked turkey” and I was pleased to oblige.
Having the Kamado for nearly six months, we’ve cooked a wide variety of meats, but this was an ambitious project. I determined that I wanted to cook it low and slow, but I was unsure if I’d like it better than normal roasting temperatures.
So, we managed to find a fresh, 22 lb. Kosher turkey (to humor my mother).
I brined it for 36 hours. Because of the tradition where you dip apples in honey (for a sweet new year), I thought that those items would make a nice part of the brine.
For 2 gallons of brine (just covers my bird in the pot):
Combine everything except the bay leaves and cinnamon in an 8 qt pot. Instead of heating the solution to dissolve the mixture, I used an immersion (stick) blender to get it going.
I poured the brine over the turkey (in the biggest pot I could find, in my case a lobster pot… and no, I don’t keep a Kosher home), fussing with the bird so that the air gets burped out of the cavity. I then put some bay leaves and cinnamon inside the cavity, the rest floating in the brine.
I also decided to try my hand at roasting the bird vertically on a Spanek turkey roaster… a sort of Eiffel Tower turkey suppository ( http://www.Spanek.com). However, with a bird of this size, setting it vertically on the grill of my #7 Kamado brought the top of the bird pretty close to the top of the dome. So, once again, I took a trip to my local hardware store and fabricated a rack out of 3/4” aluminum channel and box.
The construction was simple, and the resulting rack sat directly on the edge of the firebox. I put a 15” round pizza stone atop the rack, and a 16” deep dish pizza pan atop the stone to act as a drip pan. This effectively lowered the surface by about 5”, so I had plenty of clearance. Although I’ve ordered the hanging stainless steel rack from Kamado, it had not arrived yet, so this was an easy way of getting the bird lower in the oven.
So the night before, I prepared a paste along the lines of the Super Buzzard recipe that I found on the BGE web site: http://biggreenegg.com/recipes/poultry/turkey/superBuzzard.htm
Up Before the Sun
At 5:30 in the morning, fired up the Kamado, and while it was heating up, I drained the bird, massaged the paste under the skin and set it on the roaster. I put some apple and orange juice into the drip pan, and took the bird outdoors. I let the neck rest in the drip pan, along with the other innards (liver, heart, gizzard, etc).
Along with the lump charcoal fuel, I used cherry wood for smoke.
I fussed with the bird on and off all day, doing my best to keep the cover closed. Temperature stayed pretty stable at about 225-250.
After a while, we took the neck and other pieces out of the drip pan for an incredible snack. Braising in the sweet juices made for a very tasty treat indeed.
I sprayed the skin with apple juice from time to time. After several hours, I covered the wings and top of the bird with foil, leaving the rest uncovered. The bird was ready at 5:30 pm, 12 hours cooking overall.
We made a sauce from some of the drippings. Our family liked the bird, but there are a few observations.
First, with my family, we probably don’t need a main course… the appetizers and soup usually do us in. At this dinner we had chopped liver, chicken salad, fricasee with meatballs, gefilte fish, sibblitz und schmaltz (chopped onions, hardboiled egg, shredded beef and chicken fat), chicken soup... all before the main course. With the main course there was tsimmes (stewed fruits and sweet potatoes), and a squash casserole. Oh, one must not forget to leave room for all the desserts!
Who had room for turkey?
Second, the next time I do a turkey, I’ll try it at 325 or 350 degrees, feeling that we’d enjoy the crisper skin and less smokey flavor (one odd comment was my sister saying the bird smelled like a “Slim Jim”).
The turkey was very flavorful and moist… I’m looking forward to refining my skills.
It was an adventure
A Candlelight Dinner
One final note: A couple of days later hurricane Floyd hit... and the following day we had no electricity... so my wife took out a cast iron pot and lined it with pastry... and made a giant turkey pot pie on our Kamado with the leftovers.
So we and the neighbors had dinner by candlelight, chatting about the events of the day, and how nice it is to have a ceramic cooker.
Copyright © 1999 by Zenreich Systems. All rights reserved.
All text and photographs copyright © 1999 - 2017 Zenreich Systems. All rights reserved.