The Road to Tender Smoked Turkey: Brine and Spice with Confidence
Occasionally, I get the opportunity to cook something for BarbecueBible.com. A lot of the time it’s something that I have never done before. (I am a fairly inexperienced griller.) In this case, it was smoked turkey. I’ve always been afraid to smoke turkey. Mostly because I’m worried that it will come out dry. When I mentioned this once at our weekly team meeting, Steven suggested that I brine the turkey first. Brining is something that I never considered. But when I found out about how to do it, but more importantly, why to do it, it really boosted my confidence.
Steven wrote a great article on brining a while back and it gave some excellent advice and recipes on the brining process.
At it’s most elemental, a brine is a mixture of water and salt. But you can add sugar and your choice of spices and aromatics. Being a “newbie,” I opted to try something I had in my pantry, Big Tom’s Turkey Roasting Rub by Sauce Goddess.
Sauce Goddess to the Rescue
Sauce Goddess, led by entrepreneur Jennifer Reynolds, is a female-owned business founded over 25 years ago when Jennifer decided to share her family’s closely-guarded secret recipe, handed down through generations by her father, Keith. From its modest origins, the company has flourished, evolving to offer an appealing array of spice rubs, sauces, dips, and spreads.
One noteworthy aspect of Sauce Goddess products is its commitment to quality and health-consciousness. All of their products are gluten-free. Moreover, you won’t find any MSG or GMOs lurking in their ingredient lists. Nothing but real food ingredients. (The rubs and dry dip mixes are also kosher.)
The product I used, Big Tom’s Turkey Roasting Rub and Brine, is a delectable low-sodium spice blend, featuring the poultry-friendly combination of rosemary, marjoram, and thyme, blended with an array of other spices.
Brining Turkey Breast for Smoked Turkey
So, I went ahead and bought a turkey breast. I started the brining process by submerging the turkey breast in a container of cold water with 1/4 cup of Big Tom’s Turkey Roasting Rub and 1/2 cup of kosher salt. I made sure to submerge it breast side down to ensure it was covered. (Put a bag of ice on top of the bird to keep it submerged.)
Then I allowed the turkey to brine overnight.
The next day, I set my Weber kettle grill up for indirect grilling. I kept the temperature in the 300 to 350 degree range. I used chunks of apple wood for smoke.
It’s a simple enough procedure, right? Not for me. I struggled with keeping the temperature steady. Sometimes it was too high, sometimes it was too low. My go-to trick is, after I feel the meat has had enough smoke and I like the color, I finish it in the oven. (The temperature in the thickest part of the breast should be 165 when the bird is thoroughly cooked.) And that is what I did in this instance.
But how did I fare?
I let the turkey rest for about 15 minutes and then I cut it in to slices. The meat looked tender and there was a light smoke ring. I could smell the aroma of the rosemary and it smelled wonderful.
On to taste, Sauce Goddess and Big Tom nailed it! You could taste the different spices like the rosemary and saltiness of the brine, without overpowering the turkey. But for me, the most important part, is that it was not dry! For me that’s a win! Super tender.
Turkey is normally reserved for special occasions. But thanks to brining and Sauce Goddess, I now have the confidence I need to put this dish on the dinner rotation.
Also, sign up for our Up in Smoke newsletter so you don’t miss any blogs and receive some special offers! PLUS get Raichlen’s Burgers! PDF for free!