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New England Smoked Whole Turkey

No recipe image available.Brining and smoking a whole turkey, New England-style, as shown on the Today Show.

Recipe Ingredients:

1 (12-pound) whole turkey, fresh or thawed

1 1/4 cups kosher salt
1 quart hot water
4 quarts cold water
1 cup maple syrup
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
10 black peppercorns
5 bay leaves
4 strips lemon zest
2 whole cloves

Smoking and Grilling:
6 tablespoons butter, melted

New England Turkey Gravy:
2 cups turkey drippings
1 to 2 cups turkey stock
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Madeira wine
1/4 cup prepared coffee
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
To taste kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Directions:

  1. The night before cooking, remove the giblets from the main and front cavities. Wash the bird inside and out.
  2. For Brine: Place salt and 1 quart hot water in a large deep stockpot and whisk until salt crystals are dissolved. Whisk in cold water and maple syrup. Add onion, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, lemon zest and cloves. Cool the mixture in the refrigerator to a temperature of 40°F (5°C).
  3. Add the chilled turkey. Place a large zip top bag filled with ice-cold water on top to keep the bird submerged. Place the turkey in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.
  4. For Smoking and Grilling: Prepare the grill for indirect grilling and preheat the grill to medium heat.
  5. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in center and toss hardwood chips on the coals. To maintain the correct heat, if using a charcoal grill, replenish coals and wood chips every hour (or more depending on wind and weather).
  6. If using a gas grill, place the hardwood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat on high smoke appears, then reduce the heat to medium.
  7. If using a smoker, light and set it up according to the manufacturers instructions and preheat to 275°F (135°C).
  8. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the turkey. Pat with clean paper towels.
  9. Place the turkey on the grate over the drip pan away from the fire. Brush with melted butter. (Use an instant read thermometer to test for doneness (the turkey is ready when the thigh meat is 180°F / 85°C.) Baste the turkey with melted butter every hour. If the skin starts to brown too much, tent the bird with foil. On a kettle grill, tent the sides closest to the piles of coals.
  10. As a general guideline, if using a grill, cook the turkey for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours: if using a smoker, cook the bird about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  11. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
  12. For New England Turkey Gravy: Strain turkey drippings into a fat separating gravy boat and allow time for the fat to rise to the top. Pour the non-fatty drippings into a large measuring cup, stopping when the fat begins to pour. Add enough stock to yield 3 cups.
  13. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in flour and cook until a dark golden brown color develops, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  14. Remove pan from heat and gradually whisk in Madeira, coffee, cream, maple syrup and turkey drippings with stock. Return pan to heat and bring to a boil, whisking steadily.
  15. Reduce heat and simmer the gravy over medium heat until richly flavored and reduced to about 3 cups, 6 to 10 minutes.
  16. Adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 15 servings.

Recipe provided courtesy of the National Turkey Federation as shown on the Today Show.