How to Smoke a Turkey (or Chicken)

For years I’ve drooled over smoked meats. I watch everything on Food Network that talks about smokers. I can almost smell them cooking right through the TV screen…yum…

So when my husband brought home an electric smoker from a garage sale, I was in hog heaven!

Now I realize that while the “purists” in the smoking world would frown upon an electric smoker, it’s been the perfect way for me to get started.

Our favorite meat? Poultry. Either turkey or our own farm-raised chickens.

Step one: Thaw your meat. I did 2 small turkeys in this batch.

Step 2: Then the night before you plan to smoke, wash the bird and open it up. Remove the plastic piece holding the legs together. Don’t forget to take out the giblets! Your goal is to open the bird so more flavor can get inside.

Step 3: Now you’re ready to brine your bird. This step takes time, but it gives so much flavor! Start with 1/2 cup of brown sugar (or white sugar, or maple syrup).

Then add 1/2 cup of salt.

Add 1 quart of water and mix well. Put your poultry in a clean container that is large enough to submerge the entire bird. Pour the brine over the top. You will need to keep mixing up brine until the bird is totally covered. It will take several quarts of brine before you are done. Make sure you get some inside the bird as well.

You will need to place a weight of some kind on the bird to hold it in the brine (they tend to float). Now park your brine-covered fowl in the refrigerator overnight.

Step 4: As soon as the bird is in the brine, I like to start soaking my wood chips. I use a plastic container that can be thrown away, fill it half full of chips and cover with water.

Step 5: Time to get smoking! The next morning remove your bird from the brine, making sure to empty out the cavity. Throw the brine away. Place your poultry on the shelves of your smoker. (Note: Place your smoker out of the wind for the best results. For this batch, we needed to put it in the workshop to protect it from the elements, but we got a wonderful end product.)

Drain some of the wood chips and place in the chip container of your smoker unit. Plug the smoker in and wait. Every 2-3 hours you should check the chips and possibly add some more. Try not to open the top often to check!

Step 6: Leave the birds in the smoker for 8-10 hours. When you remove them you should see a beautiful golden brown color on the skin.

Step 6: Finish the birds off by baking them at 350 degrees for about 1-2 hours depending on the size. (If you’re doing turkeys, check the popper for doneness.) You can carve the meat and eat it right away, or pull it from the bones and refrigerate.

These lovely birds are destined for a family gathering this week end. I took them off the bone and froze them. I’ll use a crock pot to reheat the meat and will serve it with homemade rolls and baked potatoes. It is always a hit!

Sound good to you? There’s some great electric smokers online. If you’re interested please click here.

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