This Thanksgiving, Melissa Cookston of Memphis Barbecue Co. and Destination America's BBQ Pitmasters is breaking away from the standard oven roasted turkey by firing up a smoked bird. The recipe comes from her forthcoming book Smokin' in the Boys Room from Andrews McMeel Publishing. To ensure a moist and flavor packed turkey, Melissa starts out with a 12-24 hour soak in a seasoned brine mixture, followed by a low-and-slow session in an outdoor smoker. The result? A deep, rich flavor that is sure to take center stage at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
- 1 gallon chicken stock
- 2 cup kosher salt
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
- 1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon allspice berries
- 1 gallon ice water
- 1 10 to 12-pound turkey
- Canola oil, for the skin
- 3 tablespoon rub
- 1 Large onion, quartered
- 2 Large stalks celery, cut into 4 pieces
- Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the remaining brine ingredients except the ice water. Stir until the spices are dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then add the ice water.
- Remove the giblets from inside the turkey and save them for another use. Place the turkey in a cooler or 5-gallon bucket, pour the brine over it, and place a plate on top of the turkey to keep it submerged. Keep cool, either by storing in the refrigerator or placing ice bags on top and changing them out every few hours.
- Brine for a minimum of 12 hours up to 24 hours. The longer it brines, the deeper the flavor will get into the turkey, but it will also increase the saltiness of the meat.
- Prepare a smoker to cook at 250 degrees using your favorite fruit wood. I always use apple for turkey. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse well, then pat dry.
- Oil the skin of the turkey, then lightly sprinkle rub over the skin. Place the onions and celery inside the turkey. I fold the wings under themselves to help the turkey sit more evenly.
- Place the turkey in the smoker for 2 hours. Remove and wrap with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then return to cooker. Cook for an additional 2 hours, or until the breast temperature registers 165 and the thigh temperature 175.
After years competing against one another, Melissa Cookston and John Wheeler decided to join forces in 2011, combining their joint talents to offer the best BBQ fare that has ever been tasted in Horn Lake, MS and Fayetteville, NC. The ONLY restaurant in America to feature two World Champion pitmasters, Wheeler of Natural Born Grillers - the Smokin Aces BBQ Grand Champion for 2010 - and Cookston of Yazoo's Delta Q - the 2010 and 2012 Memphis in May Grand Champion - bring barbecue and grilling enthusiasts the most succulent BBQ anywhere.