I should start by saying that turkey isn’t really my thing.
Year after year, I’ve failed miserably at making that perfect, picturesque Thanksgiving turkey. The first Thanksgiving I hosted in 2009 (pre-Kitchen Konfidence) was the worst. The night before Thanksgiving, I was fumbling around trying to wet brine a 22 pound turkey, salt water and turkey contamination splashing all about my kitchen. The next day, I got the turkey out of the brine (hands burning from the salt), dried, and on to the roasting pan. A roasting pan that I later realized was too big to fit in the oven. At the time, I didn’t own a meat thermometer, so I kept the turkey (which was sitting cramped in a 9 x 13 baking dish) in the oven until it “looked good.” I remember the smile on my face as I brought the glorious golden turkey to the table, and the disappointment that quickly followed as I started to carve. The turkey was bone dry with the texture of powdery saw dust.
In 2010, I surveyed all my friends and family for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey recipe. Results and processes were widely varied. Bake the turkey in a bag. Roast the turkey covered in cheese cloth and baste in butter every 15 minutes. Deep fry the turkey. Start in a high oven. Start in a low oven. Cook the turkey in parts. Somehow, everyone was cooking their turkey perfectly except for me! Overwhelmed by the options, I chose what I thought was the easiest suggestion, “cook the turkey in parts.” After a significant struggle to actually get the turkey in parts, the finished bird was blasé at best.
The next year, I cooked 2 smaller turkeys side-by-side, slathered in truffle butter and fresh herbs. Results were juicy, but underwhelming. I was expecting a WOW moment given the white truffle butter. And in 2012, I reverted back to turkey in parts. Uninspired, and a bit dry.
In 2013, everything changed. Last year, I put Jorge in charge of making the turkey. He prepared this Smoked Turkey, and the finished bird was incredible. Juicy insides with a mouthwatering, smoky flavor. Our Thanksgiving guests couldn’t stop raving about it. Preparing the turkey on the grill also freed up some much-needed oven space. We had such an awesome turkey experience last year, that I just had to share it with you all this year! Continue reading for the recipe.