Disclaimer:  I don't claim this to be the be-all-end-all of turkey itineraries.  But I will say that my older brother, who didn't eat poultry for most of his life because he bit into an undercooked chicken leg when he was 7, tried this a few years back, and asked for more, saying "This is better than steak!"

Two major processes take place here, but I would add buying a humanely-treated, naturally-fed, quickly killed bird.  But any will work, I'm sure:)

1) The Brine.  The purpose of this is to open the pores of the turkey's skin, so all the flavor can set in, and do so evenly.

I use my big cooler for this.  It has to be done the night before for best results.  Mix, in the cooler, the following, for a 13-pound bird:

  • 4 gallons of water
  • 3 cups of salt
  • 1 1/3 cups of sugar
  • 3 cups of soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons each of tarragon, thyme, and black pepper
  • 1 cup of olive oil

Whisk all that together.  Having completely rinsed off/out your turkey, put him/her into the brine, and submerge, perhaps by sitting a plate on top of it so it doesn't float.  Leave it there overnight.  Keep in mind any pets, and perhaps sit your project in the garage.

2) The Smoking.  I'm sure your baked, roasted, or fried turkey would taste amazing using the above process as well, but this is a guaranteed win.

I use the following ingredients:

  • A horizontal charcoal smoker
  • A large bag of lump charcoal
  • A bag of smoking wood of your choice.  I choose hickory for this, as it's a lighter smoke than, say, mesquite.  You don't want overkill.
  • A turkey baster
  • A meat thermometer
  • A foil pan in which to cook the meat
  • A couple slices of foil to cover the turkey with
  • Some peanut oil - enough to rub over the turkey
  • Some sweet/salty spice - I use Famous Dave's Rib Rub
  • A full stick of butter
Ignore the rock. It was used to hold the door open. -Geoff Gundy, TSM

Then, I do all this:

  • I get the coals red hot in the smoke chamber on the left, here.  (A charcoal chimney guarantees ease in this no matter the weather!)
  • Meanwhile, rub that turkey with peanut oil on every possible area.  (If you start massaging it, I would keep that to yourself.)
  • Do a "fairly" heavy coating of your spice over the entire bird, as well - under the wings, bottom and top, the whole thing.  Nothing crazy, just some spice covering all.
  • Sit the turkey into the foil pan.  Put the stick of butter in there, too.
  • Make sure the smoker is running a steady 225-250 degrees.  For a 13-pounder, you should be ready to eat within six hours for sure.
  • Sit the turkey & pan into the smoker.  Cover it lightly with a piece of foil, so the smoke can get in there, but it also does a decent job containing the heat.
  • Using the pool of juices in the pan, baste the bird thoroughly every two hours.
  • Check the internal temperature by sticking the meat thermometer in between the leg and thigh, as that part of the bird cooks the slowest.  Get it to 165 degrees to avoid salmonella poisoning, and it's done.
  • **Do not pre-stuff the turkey!!  I did this my first year, it took over 12 hours, and that stuffing tasted horrible.
Nope, it's not burnt! Just spiced and smoked. Geoff Gundy, TSM

Have fun, and let me know if you try this.  I enjoy the process as much as I do the meal.  But if this isn't the most moist, delicious turkey you've had in your life, next year I'll eat your shoes!!