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Smoked turkey tips, recipes for Thanksgiving

Instead of your bird going in and out of the oven all day, how about smoking your Thanksgiving turkey this year? See tips!
November 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Instead of your bird going in and out of the oven all day, Chef Alex Benis of Wood Ranch Restaurants suggests smoking your Thanksgiving turkey this year.

"It's a great way to impart flavor without imparting any calories," said Benis. "You smoke it, take it out when it hits 160 or165 in the breast and let it sit and cook the rest of the way just sitting on the counter."

With a typical 14-pound bird done in roughly three hours, it frees up your oven for the other goodies. Benis says if you cook the turkey at 275-300-325 degrees, you're looking at 15 to 20 minutes per pound.

Benis uses apple and hickory wood to bring out even more flavor.

He doesn't stuff, nor does he baste, but he does use a thermometer with a cord outside the grill to know when it's time to get that bird off the heat then lets it rest for a half hour.

And to cut down on a host of fat and calories and to provide a load of flavor, the chef prefers a dry rub on the turkey.

He suggests a BBQ spice rub with a bit of a holiday theme: paprika, cayenne, black pepper, garlic and onion powder, oregano and thyme. Combine spices and herbs in a bowl then whisk away.

Benis recommends putting some of the rub under the skin before you do anything else. He then preps the bird with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice prior to outside rub down.

"The lemon juice is going to help with a little bit of acid," Benis said. "It's going to help the skin shed some of that fat."

Then sprinkle and rub making sure to get inside the cavity too and all around the turkey. Remember white meat is mild so you can be liberal with the spices, just be careful not to overwhelm the meat.

RECIPES + SMOKING DIRECTIONS:

Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill's BBQ Rub for the Turkey:

-? cup Paprika

-3 tbsp Cayenne Pepper

-5 tbsp Black Pepper, freshly ground

-6 tbsp Garlic Powder

-3 tbsp Onion Powder

-6 tbsp Salt

-2 ? tbsp Dried Oregano

-2 ? tbsp Dried Thyme

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill's Thanksgiving Rub for Turkey:

-2 tsp kosher salt

-1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

-2 tsp dried thyme

-2 tsp dried rosemary

-1 tsp dried sage

-1/2 tsp garlic powder

DIRECTIONS FOR BOTH RUBS

Mix all the ingredients well in a bowl. Rub the cavity of the turkey with the seasonings. Then lift the skin of the turkey wherever possible and rub the meat, especially the breasts, directly. After that, brush the entire exterior of the bird with olive oil and lemon, and then apply the rub lightly to the outside.

DIRECTIONS FOR COOKING

I would recommend cooking the 12-14 lb turkey at about 325 degrees. This should take about three hours in your oven to get to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Always use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the turkey. If you are smoking the bird, then you can go "low and slow" at about 250, but it will respond well at 325 also.

TURKEY TIP

As you probably know, the breast meat of the turkey, the white meat, has less fat than the dark meat and cooks faster. A simple way to get the whole bird to cook more evenly and keep the breast meat moister is to put an ice pack on the breast just before you put the turkey in the oven. Leave the ice pack on at least 15 minutes, and up to 30 minutes. This will chill the breast meat, making it take longer to cook and give you a better chance that the whole turkey comes out perfectly cooked.

Wood Ranch doesn't serve turkey but they offer a wide variety of holiday sides like mashed potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes and salads: www.woodranch.com


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