Smoked Turkey

Most Thanksgivings I deep fry our turkey. But last year my deep fryer died (and nearly ruined the meal) so I thought I would explore other culinary roads this time and got myself an electric smoker. The instant response by our guests was, “It tastes like bacon!”. While not as juicy as deep frying, it was still far less dry than roasting. The smoker is really more of a steamer, so it kept the poultry very moist throughout the long and gentle cooking process – while also bathing it in a generous amount of applewood smoke. I’m looking forward to this being our new tradition.

Smoked Turkey

When Trevor said he wanted to smoke our turkey instead of deep frying it, I was skeptical. The awesome flavor and moistness of a deep fired turkey cannot be replicated in the oven and I was worried that the smoker might be just as bad considering its just another form of dry heat right? Wrong! Our turkey resembled nothing like the smokey turkey jerky I waas imagining. It was moist and I kid you not really did taste like bacon! Hah we’ve beat the system, turkey that tastes like bacon no longer can our family doctor lecture us for the absurd amounts of bacon that we consume. But lets start at the beginning, because this turkey was lucky to ever have made it to our table. Trevor would you like to tell everyone about the turkey freezer fiasco?

Yes, let’s talk about that. First off, this was a specially ordered organic free-range turkey from a local farm where they massage the birds, give them names like “Collin” and let them roam free (slight exaggeration). It was about $50 for a 20 pound bird, and we ordered 2 weeks in advance. When it came in, we quickly picked it up from the local market where we placed the order and brought it home. Now this is a fresh turkey, so it’s never been frozen and we had no intention on doing so either – which meant we were supposed to get it in a brine bag, inside an ice chest, straight away. When I say we, I mean Melissa, but she also means me. So we both left the turkey in it’s box, in the garage, overnight. The next day, while I was at work, she asked me what I did with the turkey. When we realized what we had done, we felt sick to our stomaches. $50 down the drain – poor Collin died for no good reason, and now we were likely to be left with a frozen block of turkey from the kind of farm where the birds have low self esteem and live in squalor.┬áThankfully for $45 there was one 18 pound bird available at the local market. Disaster averted, but not without a cost.

Yes poor Collin, sigh. Thank goodness the market still had a few birds left so when I called ahead and reserved the second bird I only had to drive there at mach speed to get it in time. When Trevor got back with the bird this time, I took care of everything myself! No more, “sweetheart can you put the bird in the fridge?” garbage. I made my brine and set it up in an ice chest so it could absorb all of the mapley goodness before we cooked it. In the meantime, Trevor and I are still arguing over whether we should buy a new deep fryer or a smoker. I argued in favor of the known and he argued in the favor of something new, typical Melissa and Trevor argument. He won. So he went out and bought himself a smoker telling me what a good deal it was and how yummy the turkey was going to taste all smokey. I just grumbled and rolled my eyes telling him if it sucked he was gonna be eating some turkey jerky sandwiches for a while.

By the night before thanksgiving we were feeling pretty good about ourselves we had got everything ready and our house looked immaculate. We were patting ourselves on the back and relaxing thinking oh we’ll deal with the turkey in the morning it only takes eight hours to smoke right? Oh yes it only takes eight hours to smoke thats true, but the smoker has to be assembled and primed to burn off all of the yucky manufacturing junk before you can smoke anything in it. Of course we got up nice and early to assemble the darn thing and didn’t figure any of this out until afterwards when we were reading the instruction manual. I think Trevor almost cried as we counted up the hours it was going to to take to smoke the turkey and prime the smoker. I cleverly devised a plan to section the whole bird up so it cooks quicker. I got a kiss for being smart and then another for butchering the bird – something Trevor hasn’t yet mastered. Butchering is not one of his strong points but I love him anyways!

Chocolate Covered Bacon

Last night I was looking through the fridge and decided to cook up the rest of the bacon in the meat drawer while it was still a tasty color. I covered 2 half-size bun pan racks with bacon strips and baked them in the oven at about 475 degrees until golden brown and delicious. But while cooking bacon in the oven on a rack removes the vast majority of fat, it doesn’t really result in the kind of pan-fried crispiness I was after. So I finished them off in a frying pan on high, dumping the grease off into a container after each pan-full for later use – after all, rendered bacon fat is good stuff. After letting the now crispy but mostly still flat bacon strips rest for a bit, I set up the double-boiler with about a quarter pound of dark chocolate, and then dipped the bacon strips into it, laying them out on parchment paper to cool overnight.

Not very photogenic, I know

The results… Well I only have a photo of one of the strips because this stuff didn’t last very long at the office. There were some reluctant partakers though, but all were instantly converted after experiencing the medley of flavors this simple snack provides. Sweet and bitter chocolate over savory salty bacon.