It’s Harvest Time — and We Aim to Harvest Turkey
Happy Thanksgiving, CenterPoint Crew!
This year, we want to serve up a freshly harvested wild turkey. Unfortunately, our Field to Table huntmaster (and country artist) Justin Adams, wasn’t as lucky as Tim Montana, and his spring turkey hunt involved not seeing a damn thing. That’s okay—we’re going to walk you through cooking up your own bird, whether your hunt was a winner, or whether you’re settling for a store-bought turkey.
Justin tells us he set up decoys, putted, purred, cutt, and clucked and still didn't see (or hear) anything worth shooting at. Most of us hunters would just call that "hunting”! He was lucky enough to spend some time in God's country, outdoors in the wild, and that’s still a win in our book.
While a store-bought bird will do fine, this is From Field to Table—so Justin plans on adding some freshly harvested whitetail steaks and some canned pantry goods from his summer garden to his feast. If you are cooking up a wild turkey, keep in mind that you'll need to be more meticulous when carving and serving the bird. Wild turkeys have more tendons and ligaments to work around, especially in their legs.
Barbecue Smoked Turkey with Garlic Herb Butter Injection
One 12 to 15 lb whole turkey
BRINE — start a day in advance
1 1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 gallons of water
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup sea salt
1/3 cup coarse black pepper
1/3 cup smoked paprika
Wood chips, soaked. Applewood is preferred but any kind will do.
The day before you want to cook, mix all brine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Once the brine is completely clear, set it aside to cool. When it’s at room temperature, pour the brine into a non-reactive container big enough to hold your turkey, such as a big plastic bucket.
Then, spatchcock the turkey. To do that, take the backbone out by placing the bird breast side down, then cutting along both sides of the backbone with cutting shears. Move from tail to neck and back until the backbone comes free. You can discard the backbone, along with the giblets and neck, unless you want to use them for making stock. Next cut the center of the breastbone from the cavity side, flip the turkey over, and press down on the breasts to flatten the bird.
Place turkey in the brine and brine in the refrigerator—1 hour per pound of turkey—or overnight.
Remove the turkey from the brine and place it on a cookie sheet. Pat the turkey completely dry with paper towels.
Next, combine all injection ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors. Remove from the heat and strain through cheesecloth or something similar to remove the solids.
Adding the rub comes next. Mix all the rub ingredients together in a small bowl and—starting cavity side up—season the turkey all over the skin and in the cavity. You want the skin to be evenly coated with rub, as this will be the side your guests will see. Transfer the bird to a foil-lined sheet pan.
When the flavored butter has cooled to room temperature but not yet solidified, inject all the butter into the turkey using a marinade injector. Start with the breasts, then proceed to the thighs and legs.
Preheat your smoker or pellet grill to 300° F. Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes, then add them to your smoker or throw them on top of the pellets, depending on your barbecue type. Fruit wood works very well for smoked turkey but feel free to use cherry, hickory, or whatever you have available.
Place the turkey in the barbecue on a foil-lined cookie sheet and smoke until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160° F. This should take about 2 hours but it’s the temperature, not the time, that’s important. After the first hour, baste the turkey with the juices that have collected on the cookie sheet, and repeat every 30 minutes until the turkey is cooked.
When at temperature, remove the turkey from the barbecue and tent it under foil to rest for 20 minutes.
Serve the turkey with the sides of your choice and enjoy!
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