It’s that time of year again, TestGiving! For those you not familiar with our annual event, it’s basically a day when we cook up a full Thanksgiving meal, turkey and all the fixings, to practice for the big day. This is the third year we have done it and I have to say it was freaking awesome!
This year, I really tried to push the envelope with the turkey. I found a great recipe in the October issue of Fine Cooking Magazine by Lee Ann Whippen of Wood Chicks BBQ. Lee Ann was on season 1 of BBQ Pitmasters and owns a BBQ restaurant, so when I saw the recipe knew it would be good. Then when I saw the turkey draped in bacon, it was a done deal and knew it would be perfect for TestGiving 3.
My secret to a juicy and delectable turkey is brine. I have been brining my turkeys for years and they are always delicious. The base of my brine is 2 bottles of my BBQ Rub, 1 ½ cups of brown sugar and water. Normally use 1 gallon of apple juice but I was out so had to make do. I start with a 5 gallon food bucket and add a quart of warm water then mix in the brown sugar and BBQ Rub until it is mostly dissolved. Then I drop the turkey in the brine and top with water until the bird is submerged in the liquid, then refrigerate overnight. I prefer to brine my turkey overnight, but if you are in a pinch 4-6 hours will do.
After a night in the flavor bath of brine it was time to prep the turkey for the smoker. I removed the turkey, patted it dry, coated it with a quality olive oil, and then seasoned it with a good coating of my BBQ Rub.
|Turkey Seasoned with AlbuKirky BBQ Rub|
Once the turkey was seasoned it was time to drape that bird in BACON!! I used 1lb of bacon to cover the breast and legs, next time I’ll add a few more pieces to wrap the wings as well. A few slices around the bottom needed toothpicks to hold them in place, but for the most part the back adheres really well to the turkey.
|A beautiful sight, turkey draped in bacon!|
As much as I love mesquite charcoal, I think it’s a little strong for turkey. I used my other favorite charcoal, Royal Oak and a few chunks of maple and peach wood to sweeten up the smoke a li’l bit. I smoked the bird at 250-275º for about 4 hours. After 2 hours of cooking, the bacon had done its job and it was time to remove it from the bird. BUT…don’t throw that smokey bacon away, it makes for a tasty snack!
|After 2 hour on the BGE the bacon is done.|
I continued to cook the turkey for another 2 hours. Every 30 minutes, I sprayed it down with apple juice. The sweet apple flavor baked into the skin added another depth of flavor to the bacon and BBQ Rub. This definitely made up for not brining it in apple juice. Once the internal temp of the thigh and breast hit 160º it was done and time to rest.
After a 30 minute R&R it was time to cut that bird up and get to eatin’. I cut off a big chunk of the breast with a good piece of the skin on it for me to sample. I had to be sure that it was fit to eat, you know. It was so damn good! The skin was absolutely amazing, it was just packed with layers of flavor and spice from the BBQ Rub, the richness from the bacon, and the sweet hint of apple, all encased in 1/16 of an inch. The meat was equally tasty and was rocking all the flavor layers of the skin.
|After 4 hours at 250º the turkey is done.|
Once again our Testgiving was a huge success, the only thing missing was the nap. We’re making a few adjustments to the dish line up, but we’re definitely ready for the big day. I’ll be posting some more recipes and tips throughout November, so check back often and be sure to visit my AlbuKirky Facebook page and give us a like if you haven’t already. I’m going to be giving away some free stuff next month and you could get lucky!