Saturday, November 24, 2012

Smoked turkey breast

Photo courtesy of my Mac.
   The hubby and I hit on a huge success on our first attempt at smoking turkey. We of course consulted friends, cookbooks and internet recipes to come up with this method. We were surprised at how well it worked, and by doing it the day before, it was so much easier on Thanksgiving to have one major dish out of the way.
   In retrospect, there are 3 key components to moist, flavorful turkey breast - the brine, the dry rub and cooking with moisture. On the grill we had a soda can of water adding moisture during smoking (which can dry meat out). When finishing it off in the oven, we added just a little water to the drippings and tightly covered the meat in foil, to add steam. Then when reheating it in the crockpot, there was all the drippings keeping the meat moist.
   Any dry rub of choice can be used, but this has a hint of Southwest with the paprika and some heat from the cayenne. Just a little kick.
   I love do ahead dishes and all of the kids really loved this turkey. This method is a keeper.

Citrus Brine
1 large plastic baking bag big enough for turkey
2 cups cran-apple juice (apple juice is fine)
1/4 pt. rum (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup brown sugar or 1/2 cup regular sugar
3/4 cup Kosher salt
1-1/2 tsp. peppercorns
1 orange, cut into quarters or sixths
4 cups water

5-6 lb. turkey breast
olive oil
1/4 cup Smokey dry rub*
cracked black pepper
(salt is not needed if using dry rub)

*Smoky Dry Rub
2-1/2 T. paprika
2 T. garlic powder
1 T. onion powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne
1 T. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. pepper
1 T. kosher salt
Mix in small bowl and pour into container with tight fitting lid. Saves well in dry place. Makes about 1/2 cup.

The day before cooking, brine bird. Remove all wrappings and any miscellaneous parts from bird and rinse well. Put plastic bag in a large plastic bowl or stock pot and place bird in bag.

In large bowl or mixing cup, combine juice, rum, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir very well to dissolve sugar. Add 2 cups water, stir and pour over bird in bag. Add orange segments and remaining 2 cups water. Make sure bird is covered. Add extra water if needed and rotate bird occasionally. Let set in refrigerator 12-16 hours.

On the day of cooking, when the coals are heating (3/4 of 8 lb. bag of charcoal), and Mesquite wood chunks are soaking in water, remove bird from brine and rinse very well. Place turkey breast on a large plate or cutting board and dry with paper towel. Discard brine. Drizzle bird with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Generously cover breast in Smokey Dry Rub (get under skin, too). Place in sprayed foil pan with sides at least a few inches high. (The meat still gets the smoke this way and is easier to handle.)

When smoker is heated to 230 degrees, put bird in pan at end furthest from heat. Fill one 12 oz. soda can with water and put on grill near heat. Cover and cook one hour, maintaining heat 230-280 degrees. Check heat often and adjust as needed without lifting lid. After 1 hour, cover breast lightly with foil tent. Cook 1 more hour. Test temperature with thermometer - internal temp should be around 160 degrees. (170 degrees is considered done).

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Remove turkey in pan and bring to kitchen. Lift foil and add 1/4 cup water to drippings. Tightly wrap pan in foil and cook in oven 1 hour. Remove from oven and let rest at least 30 minutes and then slice or pick meat from bone. Serve or store in container with all juices.

To cook this the day ahead and reheat, which makes it all so much easier when cooking for a crowd, put turkey and juices (add a little water if needed) in slow cooker and heat on high for one hour, then reduce to low for 2-3 hours or until ready to serve.

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