In honor of Canadian Thanksgiving, I smoked a turkey breast yesterday. It was not one of my neighborhood turkeys, just an unfortunate one from the grocery store.
My brother is a big foodie and BBQ snob. He's got a few dishes that he's perfected. Smoked turkey is one of them. The best turkey I ever ate was cooked by him on a beat up old Weber grill using wood from a dead cherry tree in my mom's yard. He's also cheap, so does not rely on expensive ingredients or equipment. I did not presume to think that I could match his results on my first try. I was right.
Anyway, I brined my turkey breast in a mix of water, salt, apple juice, and brown sugar. (Here's a link, but I left out the maple syrup and cut the recipe in half.) It took about a day longer than anticipated to thaw, so I only brined it for 5 hours. This is fine for whole turkeys that have been injected with salt solution, but wasn't enough for this one. Next time I will let it sit overnight.
I fired up the coals and set up the smoker. I used a mix of hickory chips with some of the wood chips from my dead tree. I think it was a birch or ash. It certainly was ash by the time I was done. I'm still getting used to the smoker. It was too hot at the beginning and too cool at the end. I wanted 250F but ended up with a range of 350-200. I was planting bulbs as it cooked, so I didn't fiddle with it as much as I should've.
About half way through, Rugrat came by with a dead mouse for the BBQ. I thanked her and called her the most badass cat ever, but I didn't cook it for her. Next time she needs to bring me a wild turkey.
Anyway, it was tasty but a bit dry. It had a nice smoky flavor but it was not so overwhelmingly smoky that it needed something bland to go with it. The pink, 'smoked' layer didn't extend all the way through, which is consistent with the fact that it was roasted more than it was smoked. It was not as good as what my brother makes.
The cats liked it too. Cats go into turkey comas even worse than people do, and they both left me alone for the rest of the evening.
Afterwards, my brother told me his other secret, which is that whole turkeys come out a lot better on the smoker. I'll have to give that a try when Rugrat brings me one of those wild turkeys.