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The BlueSmoke Gazette--Turkeys Love Charcoal!
November 06, 2009

Turkey + Charcoal = Scrumptious

The smoked turkey you see in the picture was cooked yesterday in my Weber Smoky Mountain Cooker. I wanted to start cooking the twelve pound bird at 11AM, but because of an error in judgment (and my lack of a certain ability) the turkey didn't go into the smoker until 4PM.

My original plan was to haul my charcoal cookers southward 30 miles to Cheney lake and shoot an "on location" video about cooking turkey over charcoal. I made it to the lake, found a great location and got everything set up. So far so good. The problems started when the camera began to roll.

This was only my second attempt at making a cooking video for my website. In my first video, How to Build a Cold Smoker, I didn't speak, and in the video all that could be seen of me was my arms and hands. It's easy going incognito, but yesterday, standing fully visible in front of the camera and having to actually speak, well, I got a little tongue tied.

After an hour or so of practicing it became easier, but I was still no Justin Wilson. Yesterday's video isn't ready for prime time, but should be good for a laugh or two. I might show it to you one of these days.

Or not...

Anyway, after the video learning experience, I decided to pack up, go home and do the smoking and grilling there. I finally finished cooking and taking pictures at midnight.

There are two new pages on my site, one about smoking a whole turkey in a vertical charcoal smoker (my WSM), and another explaining the process of cooking a whole turkey breast in a Weber kettle grill.

Be sure to visit them both and learn about using charcoal to cook that holiday turkey! And if this will be your first time cooking turkey over glowing embers, consider practicing before Thanksgiving.

Grill-Smoking a Turkey Breast in a Weber Kettle

Smoking a Turkey in a Weber Smoky Mountain Cooker

Have you decided how you're cooking your turkey? If you cook one just once a year, or you're up against a new style of cooking it wouldn't be half-bad an idea to do a Test-Cook next week. If you buy a fresh turkey you could do it this weekend.
  • Buy your turkey. If frozen, place it in a pan to catch the leaks, and thaw it in the fridge. It will take about 6 hours per pound, four pounds per day. A 12 pounder will take 3, maybe 4 days. For safety, the turkey has to be cooked within two days of being thawed out. Get a fresh turkey anytime, as long as you cook it before its expiration date.

  • Decide on your cooking method and a recipe. Get necessary supplies: seasonings, beer, fuel (charcoal, propane or wood), utensils, pans, beer, remote cooking thermometer (open the lid once to check the turkeytemp and it adds 20 minutes to the cooking time), salt, sugar, injector...get what you need. And don't forget the beer.

  • To make things go smoother, set up all you can the day before the test run. Make sure the cooker is ready. Get all the tools, equipment and supplies together (get a box of sanitizing hand wipes and use one every time you've touched the raw turkey- don't spread the raw turkey juice around). Make your dry rub or brine and season your turkey. All you want to have to do at the beginning of Test-Cook day is fire up your cooker and insert the turkey.

  • Cook your turkey, noting any problems you encounter. Having a difficult time maintaining the cooker temp? Better now than on Thanksgiving. You have time to find the solution. The turkey takes longer than expected to cook? Maybe the smoker thermometer is off. Again, fix it before Turkey Day. Is the turkey too smokey, not smokey enough, too salty or just plain bland? Make adjustments to the recipe so your Thanksgiving turkey is an event.

Still to come in the remaining BlueSmoke Gazette Thanksgiving 2009 series: smoking turkeys in an electric smoker and a gas grill, deep fat frying a turkey, and cooking a turkey in an oil-less infrared cooker.

Gobble gobble gobble.

Finally, here's a list of all the pages on that have anything to do with cooking turkeys.

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Smoked Turkey Breast

Smoked Turkey Legs

Turkey Brine Recipes

Turkey Rub Recipe

How to Smoke a Turkey

About Turkey Brine

Turkey Smoking Tips

More Turkey Smoking Tips

Grill Smoked Turkey

Smoked Wild Turkey

Teriyaki Turkey Wings

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