As I am sure you have heard me brag about, probably too much, I bagged a spring turkey recently. I have been looking forward to bringing home a bird for some time now. Mainly because I have been anxiously waiting to try out my smoker. Growing up, my Dad was a master of the art of smoking wild game meat. But, I never really paid attention to how much of a task it is to do it right. With barbecue season here, properly using a smoker can result it some amazing eats. After doing a lot of research, I think I may have nailed down a recipe that is super easy for anyone who is new the the art of smoking a bird.
First, I knew that a wild turkey, much like all wild game, is very lean. That means that any long exposure to heat will quickly dry the meat out and turn it into something that resembles the leather on a shoe. That means, you are going to keep it moist. The best thing to do with poultry is a good soak in brine. Brine actually fills tissue cells with water, making it harder for the turkey to dry out. I did tons of research on brine recipes, but ended up going with an idiot proof method. I found a bag of pre-mixed brine, called Morton’s Sugar Cure. You can find it in the grocery store near the salt. It is a mixture of brown sugar, salt and a small amount of liquid smoke. The sugar cure is intended for people who want to make their own hams and cured meat at home. But, it was a good fit for my first attempt at wild turkey.
I decided that I would mix 1 tablespoon of sugar cure for every 1lb of turkey. I simply dissolved it in water and added a couple tablespoons of minced garlic and rosemary.Add turkey to the brine, cover, and let chill in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
After the brine process is done, I rinsed the turkey breast, to remove any excessive amount of salt. Then it was off to the smoker. I chose applewood chips to use for my smoke. I also pour the remaining brine into a baking pan and put it in the rack below the turkey to add moisture. I also laid a couple slices of bacon on the top of the turkey breast, in hopes that it would help keep the bird from drying out. I set the temperature for 200 degrees and let the smoker do it’s job. My goal was to get the internal temperature of the meat to 160 degrees, before I could consider it mission accomplished. After 3 hours in the smoker, I took the bird out and finished in the oven.
I was impressed by how it turned out, and if I can do it, you can too. Pretty much idiot proof, and a great reason to spend some time hanging out in your yard. Now time for a smoked wild turkey sandwiches and a tryptophan nap.