Kamado Joe "MoJoe" Newscast November 2012   

Kamado Joe Company
2865 N Berkeley Lake Rd
Duluth, GA 30096
(877) 215-6299

    
 
  
 

Turkey: the Centerpiece of Any Holiday Meal

A guide to mouth-watering turkey.

The three main benefits of roasting or smoking your holiday turkey on a Kamado Joe is that you are guaranteed to serve a juicy and tender turkey. It will also have a signature smoky flavor that you can’t get from an oven, and it frees up the oven for your baked side dishes.

If you are new to cooking a turkey on your Kamado Joe grill, this issue of MoJoe gives you everything you need to know about preparing and cooking it. Even if you are experienced at roasting and smoking a turkey, we’ve included three recipes to make your holiday turkey a mouth-watering success. First, let’s cover the turkey basics.

Turkey 101

Selecting a Turkey
The two main choices for turkey are fresh or frozen. For a fresh turkey you can expect to pay quite a bit more per pound than a frozen one, due to the additional handling requirements. A turkey labeled “fresh” means it has not been refrigerated below 26°F, which is the point that turkey meat begins to freeze. If you plan on using a fresh turkey, you will need to buy it within two days of cooking, and be sure to keep it refrigerated until cooking. Fresh turkeys tend to have less moisture, so brining is essential.

A frozen turkey is the most popular and convenient. Today’s flash freezing technology allows the turkey to be prepared within one year of freezing without any loss of quality. Select a frozen turkey that is labeled as “young” or “roaster”, because these birds are four to eight months old and they will be the most tender. Also, look for an un-basted type if you plan to brine your turkey. Pre-basted turkeys are injected with water, broth, oil and other liquids to make them tender.
 
There are also a number of specialty turkeys available: organic, free range, natural, heritage and kosher. Be aware that kosher turkeys are salted after processing, so they should not be brined.


Choosing the Right Weight
The best weight range for roasting or smoking a turkey is 10-15lbs. Birds in this range are the most tender and they will easily fit in a ClassicJoe if you are placing the turkey in an aluminum roasting pan. With a drip pan placed between the heat deflector and cooking grate, a 20lb turkey is the maximum size. If you plan on smoking your turkey, stay in the 10-15lb range due to food safety considerations. Smoking larger turkeys allows the temperature of the meat to remain in the range of 40°-140°F for too long. Butterball has an excellent turkey calculator for selecting the best weight, thawing and suggested cooking times.

Thawing

Plan on refrigerating a frozen turkey 24 hours for every 5 pounds to properly thaw it. If time is a consideration, I have left frozen turkeys at room temperature overnight and put them in the refrigerator in the morning. It cuts the time by more than half and I have not experienced any ill effects from it.

The Science of Brining
The challenge of roasting or smoking a turkey is that there is a larger percentage of white meat, which has significantly less fat content than the dark meat. White meat can easily become dry and stringy if moisture is not added. Soaking the turkey in a salt solution causes the cells in the muscle tissue to swell and fill with the brine solution. You also get the benefit of adding flavor from the brine to the meat.

Wood
Adding wood chunks to the charcoal is one of the main reasons for cooking your turkey on the grill, because it infuses a mild smoky flavor to the turkey. Use 3-4 wood chunks (not chips) of almond, maple, pecan or fruit woods. The most popular fruit woods for poultry are: alder, apple, apricot, cherry, peach (my favorite), pear or plum. Avoid woods like oak, hickory or mesquite, which are too strong and not suitable for poultry.

Stuffing
Filling the cavity with “aromatics” also enhances the flavor of the meat. The most popular aromatics are rosemary, thyme, sage, apples, onions, celery and carrots. Aromatics are only for added flavor and should not be eaten. Do not stuff the cavity with dressing. The cavity will not get hot enough to fully cook the dressing and it creates a food safety issue. If presentation is important, you can stuff the turkey with baked dressing after the turkey is fully cooked.

Resting
Allowing your turkey to rest for 30 minutes after cooking is essential. It gives the juices time to migrate evenly throughout the meat and it will be easier to carve.

Carving
Removing the meat from the turkey is messy, takes a fair amount of counter space and 5-10 minutes to fully slice and plate it. The best option is to do the carving in the kitchen, unless you enjoy having a dozen hungry people watch you carve it at the dinner table. If you are new to carving a turkey, the How to Carve a Turkey video from Whole Foods is an excellent tutorial.



Recipe 1: Champagne Turkey
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 15 min. per lb. @ 325°F (165°C)


This recipe offers the flavor of a traditional oven-baked turkey with a mild sweet gravy from the added champagne. It also gives you the versatility to control the amount of smoky flavor you want by adjusting the amount of time the turkey is uncovered at the beginning and end of the cooking time. This is especially helpful if your family and guests prefer little to no smoky flavor in the meat. Of the three recipes in this issue, this one yields meat that is the most firm yet juicy and requires no brining.

Ingredients
1 fresh or thawed frozen turkey
1 bottle inexpensive champagne
4 Sprigs of fresh thyme (leaves only, finely chopped)
4 Sprigs of fresh rosemary (leaves only, finely chopped)
6 leaves sage (finely chopped)
1 lemon (juiced)
1 onion (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
2 stalks celery (chopped)
1 red apple (cored, sliced)
1 can (14.5 ounce) chicken broth
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 stick softened butter (optional)
1/2 cup white flour

Preparation Instructions
1. Combine the thyme, rosemary, sage and lemon juice in a bowl. Add a small amount of olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.

2. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey, rinse the turkey and pat dry inside and out. If the turkey does not have giblets in the cavity, check the neck area. Rub the cavity of the turkey with the herb mixture and stuff it with the onion, carrots, celery and apple pieces.

3. Place long sheets of aluminum foil in an aluminum roasting pan that will be able to fully cover the turkey and contain the liquid. Place the turkey in the pan. Run your hand gently between the breast meat and the skin to separate them. This will help promote crispier skin.

4. Pour the chicken broth in the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour half of the champagne in the cavity of the turkey and allow the excess to run into the chicken broth. Place the neck and giblets in the pan if you plan to serve them or use them for the gravy.

Roasting Instructions
1. Light the charcoal in one area. Wait 10 minutes, then place two wood chunks (optional) on top of the lit area. Insert the heat deflector with the plate in the bottom position. Insert the cooking grate and place the uncovered turkey in the grill. Insert the temperature probe into the base of the breast (optional), or cook on time using 15 minutes per pound. Pierce the breast when the time has elapsed to ensure that the juices are clear.

2. Adjust the draft door and top vent to one quarter open. Allow the temperature to rise slowly to a target temperature of 325°F (165°C). It should take 30-45 minutes. This will allow the turkey to absorb the smoke from the wood and charcoal, because a cold turkey absorbs smoke faster than a warm one. Adjust the time the turkey is uncovered to raise or lower the amount of smoky flavor that will be infused.

3. Seal the turkey in the aluminum foil without the foil touching the skin. Allow the turkey to cook until the internal temperature reaches 130°F (55°C). Uncover the turkey and pull the foil away as much as possible  or tear it away to allow the skin to brown.

4. Baste the turkey with softened butter or olive oil. Check after 30 minutes and add more champagne to the pan if needed.

5. Allow the turkey breast to reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). This should take 1 hour or more. Remove the turkey from the grill, place it on a cutting board, lightly cover with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Champagne Gravy Instructions

1. Place the flour in a measuring cup. Whisk thoroughly adding small amounts of water until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter.

2. Pour the drippings in a sauce pan and heat on medium. Add small amounts of the flour mixture and stir rapidly into the drippings to thicken them. Salt and pepper to taste. Optional: remove the meat from the neck and finely chop with the giblets, and add to the gravy.

Recipe 2: Orange Bourbon Black Tea Turkey
Prep Time: 1 hour
Brine Time: 12-72 hours
Cooking Time: 15 min. per lb. @ 325°F (165°C)
, or 160°F (71°C) breast internal temperature

This recipes a offers a sweet citrus flavor to the meat and gravy and it involves brining. The turkey meat will be very tender and juicy.

Ingredients
1 fresh or thawed frozen turkey
1 1/2 cups bourbon
Coarse kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons coriander seed (crushed)
12 peppercorns
6 bay leaves
1 lemon (juiced)
1 lime (juiced)
12 black tea bags
8 oranges
1 can (14.5 ounce) chicken broth
32 oz orange juice
1 stick softened butter
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
1/2 cup white flour

Brine Instructions
1. Place 3 quarts of water in a large pot on medium heat. Add the bourbon, 2 cups salt, sugar, thyme sprigs, coriander, peppercorns and bay leaves. Mix well. Tie the tea bag strings in a knot near the labels and cut off the paper labels (this will make them easy to remove) and add to the pot. Cut the peels off 5 oranges in wide strips, juice the oranges, lemon and lime and add to the pot. Allow the brine to come to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

2. Remove the tea bags and place the brine mixture in a large food safe five gallon bucket, or line a bucket with a large plastic bag. If you use a bag, remove all the air and seal it with a tie. Allow the brine to cool to room temperature. To reduce the cooling time, add ice cubes to the mixture until it is room temperature.

3. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey, rinse the outside and the cavity of the turkey and place it in the brine mixture. If the turkey does not have giblets in the cavity, check the neck area. Add the neck and giblets to the brine if you plan to serve them or use them in the gravy. Add enough water to the bucket to cover the turkey. If necessary, use a dinner plate on top of the turkey to keep it fully submerged. Cover the top of the bucket with a large kitchen plastic bag.

4. Refrigerate 12-72 hours. For extended brining, rotate the turkey 180° every 24 hours.

5. The day prior to cooking, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a serving plate and refrigerate uncovered overnight. This will allow the skin to dry before cooking. If the skin is not dried it will be soft and rubbery.

Roasting Instructions
1. Place the turkey on a cutting board. Peel the remaining 3 oranges, quarter and insert them into the turkey cavity. Insert a roasting rack in the roasting pan and place the turkey on the rack. Tuck the wings under the bird. Rub the outside of the turkey with softened butter. Run your hand gently between the breast meat and the skin to separate them. This helps promote crispier skin.

2. Light the charcoal in one area. Wait 10 minutes, then place 3-4 wood chunks (optional) around the lit area. Insert the heat deflector with the plate in the bottom position. Insert the cooking grate. Adjust the draft door and top vent to one quarter open.

3. Place the turkey in the grill. Pour the chicken broth and orange juice in the bottom of the roasting pan. Allow the temperature to rise slowly to a target temperature of 325°F (165°C). It should take 30-45 minutes.

4. Baste the turkey each hour with softened butter or olive oil.

5. Allow the turkey breast to reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C), or cook on time using 15 minutes per pound. Pierce the breast when the time has elapsed to ensure that the juices are clear.

6. Remove the turkey from the grill, place it on a cutting board, lightly cover with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Orange Gravy Instructions

1. Place the flour in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk thoroughly adding small amounts of water until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter.

2. Pour the drippings in a sauce pan and heat on medium. Add small amounts of the flour mixture while the drippings are warm and stir into the drippings to thicken it. Salt and pepper to taste. Optional: remove the meat from the neck and finely chop with the giblets, and add to the gravy.

   
 

Recipe 3: Savory Smoked Turkey
Prep Time: 1 hour
Brine Time: 12-72 hours
Cooking Time: 20 min. per lb. @ 250°F (120°C), or 160°F (71°C) breast internal temperature

Obviously, this recipe offers the most signature smoky flavor being added to the meat. A popular trend is to cook the turkey "breast down", instead of the traditional position. Some even cook their turkeys breast down the first half of the cooking time, then rotate it to breast up. The thinking is that moisture from the dark meat will migrate down to the breast meat and make juicier. As you can see from the photo, I tried it breast down for the entire smoking cycle. Based on my experience with the other two turkeys I roasted, I did not see any appreciable difference in juiciness.

Ingredients
1 fresh or thawed frozen turkey
2 quarts vegetable stock
2 quarts water
2 cups coarse kosher salt
1 cup honey
6 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 apples (cored, chopped)
2 onions (chopped)
6 carrots (chopped)
6 celery stalks (chopped)
1/2 stick softened butter or extra virgin olive oil

Brine Instructions
1. Place the vegetable stock and water in a large pot on medium heat. Add the salt, honey, garlic, 1 onion, 4 carrots, 4 celery stalks and stir well. Allow the brine to come to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

2. Place the brine mixture in a large food safe five gallon bucket, or line a bucket with a large plastic bag. If you use a bag, remove all the air and seal it with a tie. Allow the brine to cool to room temperature. To reduce the cooling time, add ice cubes to the mixture until it is room temperature.

3. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey, rinse the outside and the cavity of the turkey and place it in the brine mixture. If the turkey does not have giblets in the cavity, check the neck area. Add the neck and giblets to the brine if you plan to serve them or use them in the gravy. Add enough water to the bucket to cover the turkey. If necessary, use a dinner plate on top of the turkey to keep it fully submerged. Cover the top of the bucket with a large kitchen plastic bag.

4. Refrigerate 12-72 hours. For extended brining, rotate the turkey 180° every 24 hours.

5. The day prior to cooking, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a serving plate and refrigerate uncovered overnight. This will allow the skin to dry before cooking. If the skin is not dried it will be soft and rubbery.

Smoking Instructions
1. Place the turkey on a cutting board. Insert the apple pieces and the remaining chopped onion, carrots and celery into the cavity. Rub the outside of the turkey with softened butter.

2. Light the charcoal in one area. Wait 10 minutes, then place 3-4 wood chunks around the lit area.

3. Insert an aluminum roasting pan between the heat deflector plate (in the bottom position) and the heat deflector frame. The pan can be a maximum height of 2.75” (6.9cm) Insert the heat deflector in the grill and fill the pan with water. Water helps keep the temperature down. Insert the cooking grate. Adjust the draft door to one quarter open and the daisy wheel holes fully open on the top vent.

4. Place the turkey in grill breast side down (optional). Insert the temperature probe at the base of the breast. Allow the temperature to rise slowly to a target temperature of 250-275°F (120-135°C). This should take 45 minutes to 1 hour.

5. Baste the turkey every hour with softened butter or olive oil. Add water to the pan if necessary, but allow the water to reduce as the turkey nears the target internal temperature.

6. Allow the turkey breast to reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C), or cook on time using 20 minutes per pound. Pierce the breast when the time has elapsed to ensure that the juices are clear.

7. Remove the turkey from the grill, place it on a cutting board, lightly cover with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Tip: A smoked turkey will have very dark skin due to all the wood smoke. To reduce this effect and still gain the smoked flavor, place a cheesecloth soaked in butter over the turkey when placed in the grill. Remove it 30 minutes prior to the turkey being fully cooked or when the internal temperature reaches 150°F (65°C). A cheesecloth was not used for this recipe (see photo).

Smoked Gravy Instructions

1. Place the flour in a measuring cup. Whisk thoroughly adding small amounts of water until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter.

2. Pour the drippings in a sauce pan and heat on medium. Add small amounts of the flour mixture and stir rapidly into the drippings to thicken them. Salt and pepper to taste. Optional: remove the meat from the neck and finely chop with the giblets, and add to the gravy.
 
 
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