As you have probably heard by now, for my birthday I received a Traeger Smoker from my wonderful wife. It's one of those gifts that you truly cherish, unlike gifts received that we wish we could take back and keep the cash. In the first week of having the grill, I used it three times: ribs, smoked meatballs and smoked turkey.
Rachel's birthday was last Friday. The day to smoke the turkey had arrived. Admittedly I was a little nervous as this was my first time cooking a turkey. What if it did not turn out? You can't serve poultry medium rare-despite what I told my nephews.
The best way to alleviate fear is to take a step forward. I cleaned the bird, semi followed a Traeger recipe, and made it up from there.
Apple Rosemary Smoked Turkey
1 fresh or frozen thawed turkey (15 lbs)
3-4 tablespoons poultry rub
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 Gala apples, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Wipe turkey surface and cavity with wet paper towels. Lightly rub oil over the surface and cavity of the turkey. Sprinkle a light coating of poultry rub on the surface and in the cavity of the turkey. Place sliced apples and rosemary sprigs in cavity of the turkey. Start grill on smoke with lid open until fire is established (about 5 minutes). Switch to "medium" or 300 degrees on the digital thermostat. Place turkey on the center of the grill, close lid and cook for 3 1/2 - 4 hours or until internal meat temperature is 160-165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast. Allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.
Since it is July, the likelihood of finding the size of turkey that you want is remote. I went to the store and had my choice of 4 turkeys; 19, 20, 21, and 22 pounds respectively. It took 2 1/2 days to thaw out. No worries however; a larger turkey means more leftovers.
Rachel's party was fabulous. It was a small gathering with lots of wonderful food. We had a very spicy, very delicous chip dip, a tasty pasta salad, and a green salad that was exploding with flavor. I am also grateful to some wonderful friends who took care of dessert when I realized that I couldn't make it happen.
The turkey turned out great. It received rave reviews and we ate it for the next 2 days. I probably won't eat turkey again for a couple of weeks. It was moist and the hickory smoke flavor came through. Anytime you can get a flavor on a white meat, you are doing good. One thing I won't do again is smoke the turkey in a foil pan. It helps collect the juices but the underside does not get as crisp.
I was a little worried when I cut into the turkey and the outside looked pink. How could the inside be cooked more than the outside? It is actually the smoke ring; very interesting to see how far the smoke works it's way into the meat.
The Traeger Smoker sure is paying off.