This year we started a new holiday tradition that our taste buds will demand year after year from now on forward: smoking a turkey on the Big Green Egg. We smoked a turkey for Thanksgiving and will put another one on the Big Green Egg for Christmas. The meat was juicy and flavorful and the preparation easy and stress free. Can’t say that about many of the baked ones we’ve scrambled to make over the past years. I especially hated spreading butter under the turkey skin.
We roughly followed along the directions from the Smoked Turkey recipe out of the official Big Green Egg cook book, which is of course available at Blackhawk Hardware and makes an excellent Christmas gift. Ehem, shameless self-promoting plug. Ehem. But seriously, save your oven to bake a pie or casserole and use your Big Green Egg to make the turkey, you’ll never look back.
Brining not only allows liquid to permeate through the turkey skin into the meat but also uses the salty solution to tenderize the meat. This recipe calls for brining a 12lbs turkey for 12 hours before smoking it on the Big Green Egg. We wanted to start smoking the turkey at 2pm AND get a good night’s sleep so we brined it overnight and let it rest in the refrigerator before smoking it. Turned out perfectly and we didn’t have to get up at 2am.
To prepare the brine, add 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar, the rind of 1 orange, 3 sprigs of rosemary, 1 cup kosher salt, 2 onions (quartered), and 1 head of garlic (halved) to 1 gallon of water. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved and then pour it over the rinsed turkey (don’t forget to remove the giblets and neck) in either a brining bag or a bucket, whatever fits in your fridge or cooler. The turkey is supposed to be completely covered. Ours wasn’t so we doubled the brine. Since we didn’t have any more oranges I quartered a lime and threw it in to the mix (it tasted neither orangy nor limey, just simply amazing so I’m pretty sure this wasn’t a bad choice). We sat our turkey and the brining bag into a roasting pan in the refrigerator, which made it easier to handle. You’ll want to occasionally flip the bird to make sure everything gets nice and juicy.
Start by soaking four cups of hickory wood chips in water for at least one hour. To smoke the turkey you’ll want to preheat your Big Green Egg to 350F.
Remove the turkey from the brine (we cut the bag open at the bottom to let it drain), rinse it well and pat it dry. All the goodies from the brine get discarded. Stuff it with 2 lemons (quartered), 1 garlic head (halved), 1 onion (quartered), 1 cup potato (cubed), 10 sprigs of thyme and 10 sprigs of sage.
Now brush the turkey with olive oil and season with pepper and garlic powder. Place the bird on a v-rack that is sitting in a drip pan.
Once the turkey is prepared and the Big Green Egg has reached 350F, scatter 1 cup of hickory chips over the coals. Then place the plate setter into the Egg (legs up). You may want to use grilling gloves for that (hint hint, they also make great Christmas gifts!) Move your drip pan + v-rack + turkey on top of the plate setter and close the lid.
Every thirty minutes you’ll want to add more hickory chips to the Big Green Egg. For us, the entire turkey took about 2.5 hours until its internal temperature had reached 165F when we checked with an instant read meat thermometer (another Christmas gift idea!).
Your turkey will get progressively darker as it gets smoked on the Big Green Egg. You probably won’t want to eat the skin anyway but to prevent it from getting too dark, cover it with aluminum foil. Once the bird is done, remove it from the Egg and let it rest under foil for at least 15 minutes. Just enough time to finish preparing some final sides. Bon appétit and happy holidays!