If you’ve never smoked a turkey, this spicy, buttery, ultra-moist bird will have you wanting to make it for weekend dinners as well as holidays. You can space everything out over a few days so it will be manageable, even if this is your first time smoking a turkey. A few days ahead of time, gather your equipment. In addition to a smoker or grill, you’ll need a meat injector just as the SpitJack Magnum, a brining bag or large pot, a pair of sturdy poultry shears to spatchcock the turkey (or ask a butcher to do it for you), a sheet pan, and a few chunks of cherry wood or apple wood (or about 3 cups wood chips if using a gas grill). And you’ll need a meat thermometer such as the Yummly Smart Thermometer. Most of the ingredients in the recipe are straightforward, but Cooks with Soul like to use their The Boot Cajun seasoning. Finally, be sure to allow about 3 days if needed to thaw your turkey in the refrigerator, and 16 to 24 hours to brine it…
In terms of doneness, Marrekus Wilkes of Cooks with Soul likes the juiciness of a spatchcocked turkey cooked to 145°-150° in the thickest part of the breast. (He gets an extra 10°-15° during the resting period as the heat carries over and continues cooking.) And it’s safe to eat. According to the USDA, if you cook a turkey to 150° and let it rest only 3.8 minutes (for 145°, 10.5 minutes), any salmonella is killed. But you may prefer your turkey more done, and with a good meat thermometer, you have the choice. The recipe is a Yummly original created by Cooks with Soul.
- Make brine: In a 12- to 16-quart pot, combine water, apple cider, salt, sugar, rosemary, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, red onion, and orange zest. Bring brine to a boil, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve, then remove pot from heat (it will be heavy) and set in a sink of ice water to cool completely.
- Spatchcock the turkey: On a work surface, turn the turkey breast-down. With sturdy kitchen shears, cut down each side of the backbone to remove it (save for stock if you like). Working from the inside of the turkey and starting at the neck end, use a sharp knife to cut through the membrane and split the triangular keel bone that joins the two sides of the breast. (If you can’t cut through it, skip this part; the turkey will still be reasonably flat.) Flip turkey over and press down firmly until bones crack and the turkey is flattened.
- Pour or ladle cooled brine into a large brining bag or pot. Place turkey in brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours (about 1 ½ hours per pound of turkey).