1/2 cup ground kosher or sea salt per quart of water for brine (vary this according to taste)
2 tbsp peppercorns
2 tbsp sage
2 tbsp thyme
1 stick butter
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp garlic powder
10 lbs (preferably oak) charcoal briquets (non-self starting)
hickory or mesquite wood chips (hickory burns hotter and longer, but can’t beat the flavor of mesquite!)
10 – 20 lbs turkey
large container to brine the turkey
large container to soak the chips
meat injection kit
Determine all times based on thawing, brining and smoking time. Thawing a large bird can take days. Allow 10 – 12 hours each for brining and smoking.
Thaw the turkey completely. Find a container large enough to cover the entire turkey with water. You will have to devise some method to “sink” the turkey as it will float in the salt water. Mix up enough water to cover the turkey completely by adding up to 1/2 cup ground kosher salt to each quart of water, dissolving it completely. Make sure to clear any air spaces from inside the turkey as this will ensure complete brining and assist in “sinking” the turkey in the brine water. To sink the turkey completely, put a lid on the container or some weight on the turkey to keep it down. Store the brining turkey overnight in the refrigerator. When you are ready to finish preparing the turkey, take the turkey out of the brine and dry it with paper towels.
Soaking the Wood Chips
At the same time you start the brine soak, begin the soaking the wood chips. I use a complete small bag of chips for this. Cover your chips completely in water. Take the wood chips out of the soak right before you begin to cook. You are soaking these chips to make them smolder and smoke when you put them on top of your coals.
Inject your turkey with a mixture of 1 stick melted butter, 1/2 cup white wine and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
After injecting the turkey, coat the turkey with olive oil. Grind the peppercorns in a coffee grinder and mix with the ground sage and ground thyme. Rub the mixture all over the turkey. The bird is now ready to cook.
Preparing the Wood Chips
Build a “boat” out of aluminum foil large enough to contain the wood chips on top of the burning briquets. Punch some holes in the bottom of the boat to allow air to flow through. Drain the wood chips and place them in the boat.
Preparing the Smoker
Place a 10 pound bag of charcoal briquets (oak does the best job) in the fire pan of the smoker. Avoid self-starting briquets as you will taste the fuel in the food. Dowse the charcoal with charcoal lighter fluid and light. When the flames die down and the edges of the coals are glowing, carefully place the “boat” of chips on top of the coals (use leather gloves). This could be a tight fit, but with a little persistence you can get everything in. Put the empty water pan in place and fill it with water. Be careful not to extinquish your fire. Replace the grill. The cooker is now ready.
Place the turkey directly on the grill. Cover with the smoker lid. Verify that the fire is taking by checking the temperature attached to the cooker lid. Once it has caught, resist all temptation to look inside. Never open the smoker lid or open the side door. There is no need to add more water or chips or charcoal. The fire will burn hottest and heaviest at the beginning before it slows to a lower, steady and smoke-free state, eventually running out of fuel. Do not remove the turkey until the heat has lowered to the point where it is obvious that it is only keeping the bird warm. After this point, remove the turkey. I suggest you remove the turkey right before you are ready to eat. If you started 10 – 12 hours before you want to serve your turkey, your time should be just perfect.