Here are 10 tips for using a smoker to cook your holiday turkey from Ontario Gas BBQ. I'm not sure I could obey No. 4: If you're "Lookin'" you're not "Cookin'" I can resist anything except temptation.
1. Be patient; bring your smoker up to an optimum temperature before adding your food.
2. Soak wood chips or chunks to create a longer smouldering smoke.
3. Add wood chips or chunks early in cooking process but only after optimum temperature has been established.
4. It's okay to wait. Do not open lid unnecessarily. Doing so reduces your temperature and requires recovery time to re-establish the optimum temperature. Overall this mistake can add considerable "extra" time to your cookout. If you're "Lookin'" you're not "Cookin'".
5. Cold, windy conditions are your smoker's worst enemy for maintaining your temperature. A wind shield or any protection from inclement weather will dramatically aid your smoker's performance.
6. Shop at a reputable store for all your BBQ needs. A knowledgeable store will be able to offer advice and tips ongoing. After market service is really important to enhance and extend the enjoyment of your BBQ grill or smoker purchase. Same thing for your butcher. Superior meat cuts will produce better results.
7. Learn to BBQ or smoke food by temperature, not time. Each piece of meat is unique. When smoking a turkey the temperature should be set at about 230 degrees F, and then calculate 30 minutes per pound. Determine the approximate time that the turkey could be ready at the earliest -- this is when you want to start testing for doneness. Use a good meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of the turkey in two different places. Remember don't test too close to the bone. When you have two readings about 165 degrees F then you can take the turkey out.
8. It is recommended that you do not stuff a turkey when you smoke it. For smoking, it is best that your turkey is able to smoke from the inside as well as the outside.
9. Before your turkey goes into the smoker you may want to add some flavour to the bird. This is best done with a spice rub. You can use any rub you want but remember to get these flavours under the skin. The skin of the turkey will prevent flavours from getting to the meat from the outside.
10. Remember... If you're "lookin'" you're not "cookin'."
The best way to know when your turkey is done, is by its temperature. The USDA says a turkey is safe when "cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast." <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/7008317739/sizes/z/in/photostream/">USDAgov</a></em>
"If your turkey has a "pop-up" temperature indicator, it is recommended that you also check the internal temperature of the turkey in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. The minimum internal temperature should reach 165 °F for safety." -- USDA
This table from the USDA is based on 325 °F oven, and a fully defrosted or fresh bird. <strong>(For an unstuffed bird, we're talking roughly 15 minutes per pound.)</strong> If you want to cook a frozen turkey, it will take <strong>at least 50 percent longer</strong> than the recommended times.
Your turkey will cook faster in a 325 °F convection oven. <strong>8lbs: 1.25 hours 12 lbs: 1.75 hours 14 lbs: 2 hours 18 lbs: 3 hours 20 lbs: 4 hours 24 lbs: 4.25 hours </strong> <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/eagleapex/3051418502/sizes/z/in/photostream/">eagleapex</a></em>
Timing on a grilled turkey is tricky since every grill is vastly different, but here's a rough guide based on weight. <strong>8 lbs: 90 mins 12 lbs: 135 mins 14 lbs: 180 mins 18 lbs: 210 mins 20 lbs: 225 mins</strong> <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dongkwan/4144669657/sizes/z/in/photostream/">BrownGuacamole</a></em>
According to theperfectturkey.com: "A deep fried turkey takes about 3 to 5 minutes per pound when cooked in 350 degree F. oil." We recommend you watch Sam Sifton do this, so that you do not burn your house down.
See how the turkey is shoved off to the side, getting ignored? Do this. For at least 30 minutes. The juices need time to re-absorb into the meat -- which will make it taste way better and also make carving the bird much easier. Seriously, you can reheat it later or pour hot gravy over it. Let. It. Rest. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/66620991/sizes/z/in/photostream/">Muffet</a></em>
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