This is the main event right here: Turkey. The big bird you want to serve for the big day. I’m going to tell you how to do it up so that you’ll never want to cook it in the oven again.
For the turkey
- 1 (12- to 15-pound) turkey, neck and giblets removed
- 8 cups Smoked stock, or good-quality store-bought stock (see recipe below)
- 3 medium white onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 2 cups Jack’s Old South Huney Muney Cluck Rub or make your own rub (see recipe below)
- 2 cups apple juice
For the smoked stock (Makes about 3 Quarts stock)
- 1 carcass from a large smoked turkey or chicken
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 3 large stalks celery, cleaned, dried, and roughly chopped
- 1 large sweet onion, peeled, trimmed and quartered
- 3 large carrots, cleaned, peeled, and roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the rub (Makes about 3 cups)
- 1 cup chili powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons onion powder
- 3 tablespoons garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Make the smoked stock
- In a large heavy Dutch oven or stockpot, combine all the smoked stock ingredients. Cover with enough cold water to submerge all the ingredients, about 3 quarts. Over moderately high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat to low to let the stock simmer gently for at least 3 hours and not more than 4, periodically using a slotted spoon to skim the surface and discard the fat that collects on the surface. Remove the stock from the heat, cover the pot, and allow the stock to cool completely. Discard the bones and vegetables. Line a fine-mesh strainer or colander with several layers of cheesecloth. Place it over a large bowl.
- You may need to strain it two or three times to remove all the solids. Refrigerate the stock overnight. The next day, the stock should be golden in color. Skim any fat that collects on the surface and discard the solids. After skimming, use immediately or pour it into containers to store. Store the stock in the refrigerator for five days, or in the freezer for about three months. Make sure to discard any fat that accumulates on top of the stock before using.
Make the rub
- In a large bowl, combine all the rub ingredients. Stir to combine thoroughly. You can store this rub in an airtight container indefinitely, but it’ll begin to lose strength after about 3 months—and if I had any left after 6 months, I’d make a new batch.
Make the turkey
- Make a brine for the turkey: In a large stockpot combine the chicken stock, onions, garlic, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat and let the brine cool completely. Place the turkey in a large roasting bag or a clean cooler or other large container, and carefully pour the brine into the container or bag. Seal the container or the tie the bag. Refrigerate, allowing the turkey to sit in the brine at least 8 hours, or preferably overnight.
- When you are ready to cook the turkey, preheat a smoker to 250ºF.
- Remove the turkey from the brine. Discard the brine. Pat the bird dry thoroughly with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Apply the rub all over the bird, inside and out.
- Set a roasting rack inside a deep aluminum pan with the handles facing down, so the bird will be raised. Pour the apple juice into the bottom of the pan, underneath the meat rack. Place the turkey on the rack. Place the pan in the smoker and cook for 5 hours, or until the breast meat of the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
- Remove the pan from the smoker. Allow the turkey to rest, loosely covered with foil, for 30 minutes. Carve the turkey and serve immediately.