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Smoked Turkey

Q. For Thanksgiving I would like to offer my guests a smoked turkey as well as the traditional roasted one. Would it be better to marinate the turkey or use a dry rub for smoking? — Tom, Little Chute

116-cj-turkeyA. Without question, my preference is to brine my turkey before smoking it rather than dry rubbing it. The reason for this is the brining process allows the flavor of the brine to penetrate deep into the meat of the turkey, providing every bite with flavor and added juiciness. I use a basic brine of 1/3 cup salt and 1/3 cup sugar for every gallon of water. When brining a turkey, first make sure it is thawed at least partially to remove the neck and giblets that are usually tucked inside. Submerge the whole bird in the brine and allow it to soak in the brine under refrigeration for 4–5 days. This extended period of brining allows the brine to penetrate the meat from both the outside in and the inside out. After brining I do not season my turkey with anything at all. I just smoke the turkey with indirect heat and moderate smoke at 250 degrees. A 15-pound turkey should take about 3 hours and a 20-pound turkey should take about four hours, but allow yourself a little extra time so your turkey can rest before carving. Happy Thanksgiving!

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