It’s that time of year when that most noble of birds graces the presence of millions and millions of homes. The Gobbler. Meleagris gallopavo. Oh yes, I’m talking about the turkey. And while countless number of households will roast that bird or dunk it in a hot vat of oil to fry it up crispy, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t show your smoker some love during this holiday season. Smoked turkey is an amazing experience, and I’m going to give you three tips on how you can smoke that turkey to perfection this year!
Spatchcock That Bird
Spatchcock. Admit it — you snicker a little every time you hear it. It sounds like such an obscene and dirty word. But it’s not — to spatchcock a turkey is simply to remove the backdone and butterfly it open. I can already hear you asking, “Why in the world would I do such a thing!?!” Well I can think of a couple of very compelling reasons:
- The cooking surface of a spatchcocked turkey is significantly thinner than that of a whole turkey, thus decreasing the amount of cooking time and allowing the turkey to cook more evenly.
- You’ll get a more uniform color on the skin of the bird as opposed to a whole turkey.
Skip the (Wet) Brine
I’m pretty sure I just committed treason/heresy/slander with that statement. But hear me out. Using a wet brine does make a turkey juicy, yes. However, a lot of that juiciness is just water. A wet, sloppy bird. Who wants that? This article from Serious Eats completely changed how I approach cooking any kind of poultry.
So the alternative approach? Simple — it’s salt. Liberally salt your turkey for 24 hours before cooking it (and optionally rinsing the salt off), and you’ll have one tasty turkey!
Less is More — Smoke, That Is
This actually holds true for most poultry, in my experience. Turkey is a bit on the delicate side, so you’ll want to pair it with a wood that is not going to be as overpowering. Fruit woods work very well (especially apple and cherry) as does pecan in moderation. And it doesn’t take much wood — usually 3 or 4 fist-sized chunks will add just the right amount of smoke flavor. Remember, the smoke should enhance the flavor of the bird, not dominate the flavor.
Testing Out the ThermoWorks Dot
Sometimes less is indeed more. This saying is very true with the newest product from the folks at ThermoWorks — the DOT. I recently received one in the mail for review.
With all of the temperature measurement devices that are out on the market that do practically everything except brew your coffee, the DOT is a step back in the direction of simplicity. Rather than come with multiple functions and multiple data points to display, the DOT shows two pieces of data: the current measured temperature and an upper temperature threshold alarm (adjustable by using the two arrows on the device).
So why is this unit priced well above similar temperature measurement devices? Simple — the DOT comes with the precision and durability that is a hallmark of ThermoWorks products. It’s constructed using commercial-grade plastic with splash-proof seals molded into the body. It has a precision of +/- 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit when measuring temperatures between -4 and 248 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for constant measuring of foods on the grill. That precision changes to +/- 3.6 degrees when measuring temperatures between -58 degrees and -4 degrees Fahrenheit as well as between 248 degrees and 392 degrees Fahrenheit.
The DOT uses thermistor sensor temperature probes such as the ones available for use with the DOT’s beefier cousin, the ChefAlarm. In fact, temperature probes compatible with the ChefAlarm will also work on the DOT.
I recently acquired a large Big Green Egg and have dubbed myself an Egghead in Training. This presented a perfect opportunity to bring the DOT into action.
Since I don’t have any EggMates yet, I tested mounting the DOT using the attached magnets on the back of the unit in a few different places — on one of the legs of the next, on the outer rim, and even on the handle and back hinge.
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I even decided to bring out the ChefAlarm to play as well!
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The one critique I would have about this unit is the alarm — I had a little difficulty hearing it from just inside my home. But if you’re outside with the device (or inside with it), you probably will not have any trouble hearing the alarm. Others may also suggest that the lack of remote monitoring (via Bluetooth) is a drawback. However, I do not see it like that — ThermoWorks did an excellent job with making a product that only concentrated on doing a core set of tasks and doing them well.
ThermoWorks DOT Giveaway
Thanks to the folks at ThermoWorks, I’m proud to announce that I will be giving away one of the DOT temperature alarms. The giveaway is simple — leave a comment on this blog post below and let me know that you did so via the Rafflecopter widget. There are also some other ways to get extra entries, which you’ll find in the widget as well.
And now for the rules: the contest runs from now until Thursday, November 13th at 11:59pm EST. The winner will be selected and notified the next day (Friday, November 14th). The winner has 24 hours to reply to me with a mailing address once notified. If there is no response within 24 hours, I will select a new winner.