THIS IS THE MOTHER OF ALL TURKEY RECIPES!!! Seriously, I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year just to have an excuse to make a giant version of this thing!
I never really loved making turkey for thanksgiving, I tend to be more of a ham kind of girl. But with this recipe being SO easy, SO impressive, and truly just gorgeous, I find that my luster for turkey has been renewed!
This recipe is fool proof with step by step instructions. As long as your turkey isn't frozen you can have this thing completely done with no other prep just 5.5 hours before dinner. Happy cooking!
*You CAN make this recipe in your oven, but it will lose a little of the pizaz that comes with smoking meat.
1 13-15Lb Turkey (If you're using a bigger bird, adjust accordingly)
1/2C Unsalted Butter, Softened
5 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1T Thyme Leaves (fresh)
1/4C Poultry Seasoning (I used Traeger)
1/3C Honey, Melted
1 Yellow Onion, quartered
1/2 Bundle Thyme
1T Brown Sugar
FOR RED WINE GRAVY
2 Yellow Onions, quartered with skin ON
6 Celery Stalks, Rough Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic
3 Carrots, Rough Chopped
1/2 Bundle Thyme
1 Bottle Red Wine
4C White Grape juice (no added sugar)
2-4C Chicken Stock
First things first. The Brine. This needs to be done the morning of. Brining a turkey is imperative to to the overall outcome of the turkeys texture and flavor, HOWEVER, a wet brine in an ice chest full of sugar and saltwater is NOT. (nothing against this kind of brine, but a dry brine is easier. faster, and takes up less space.
1. Be sure you've properly and fully defrosted your Turkey. Remove the giblets and set aside. Dry the entire thing thoroughly with a paper towel. Combine the salt, Sugar, and black pepper, and cover the whole outside AND inside of your bird.
2. Place on a baking sheet with a rim and refrigerate 2 hours UNCOVERED. Feel free to take this time to prep your veggies for the gravy or start dessert!
3. After 2 hours, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and wipe all of the brine off with a paper towel. Pat dry.
4. Set smoker to "smoke" with the lid open for about 5 minutes to establish flame. Close lid and preheat to (325F)
Next, we onto the inside and outside flavoring of the bird. SUPE crucial to the overall flavor and texture.
5. In a small bowl, combine the 1/2C softened butter, minced garlic, and thyme leaves to make garlic-herb butter
6. VERY carefully separate the skin on the breast from the meat. Try not to rip or puncture the skin! I use a gloved hand for this. Pull the skin away in a small section, then start with your fingers, and slowly separate the skin from the meat until you can easily fit your entire hand under the skin to the bottom of the bird. Repeat on the other side.
7. Using your hand, scoop half of the garlic herb butter and press it between the skin and the meat. making sure to cover the entire surface. (you can spread the butter out from on top of the skin after its in) repeat on the other side.
8. Rub the entire Turkey in the EVOO and liberally sprinkle the poultry seasoning making sure to cover bottom, wings and legs.
9. Fill the inside of the turkey with 1 chopped onion, 1 sliced lemon, and 1/2 bundle of Thyme. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together.
10. In a large 2in deep foil pan (big enough to span the length and width of the base of the turkey) place the giblets, the remaining yellow onions (with the SKIN ON), Carrots, Garlic, Celery, and Thyme.
11. Mix 1/2 the bottle of wine, 2C of the grape juice, and 1-2C chicken stock. Set aside.
12. Place the foil pan with the Veggies UNDER the grates in your smoker. (yes you'll have to remove the hot grates with oven mitts or tools). Replace the grates over the top of the foil pan. Bend the sides if its a bit too tall.\
13. Pour the red wine mixture over the veggies.
*This pan should never be lower than 1/3 way full of liquid. as turkey cooks and liquid evaporates, add more of the wine, juice, and chicken stock. About every hour add to it.
14. Place the Turkey, breast side up, directly on the grates and squarely over the foil pan. Cook for 2.5 hours or until internal temp reads (135F) It should be browned and have decently crisp skin at this point
15. Turn the temperature to (225F) and brush LIBERLLY with hot honey. Add any more liquid to the drip pan if desired, and cook and additional hour, or until the internal Temp hits (165F).
16. Carefully remove the turkey from the smoker and place in a serving dish. It will be Very golden, very crispy on the outside, and super juicy on the inside. I plated mine surrounded with bunches of different colored grapes.
17. Remove the foil pan from the smoker and strain the liquid into a sauce pan. Simmer on high until liquid is slightly reduced. (This is a thinner gravy, you could easily add a slurry or brown gravy mix at this point to thicken it further)
That's it! The turkey and gravy cook together and its all done at the same time! Your Thanksgiving guests will be AMAZED at the look and flavor, and you don't have to spend your day basting! Id love to see how your recipes turn out! Make sure to tag @saltncopper in any of your pictures on Instagram! There is also a video on my Instagram on how to spread the butter under the skin!
Enjoy the best turkey EVER!