I love Christmas, I become many people during the season. I’m a shopper, decorator, wrapper, host but mostly a father. I don’t look for presents; I look for the reaction to the gifts I give to my children and loved ones. I’ve never returned a gift because it’s given with love. I’ve even kept the unfitting sweaters and shirts because they were given from the heart. OK, I’m silly but that’s me.
My favourite role is that of cook. My neighbours see the smoke rising every Christmas morning as I start the Big Green Egg to smoke my turkey. Sometimes the weather participates and then there are other times, like this year. Toronto experienced an ice storm the weekend before and 350,000 homes were without power. I was lucky, my fence wasn’t. But better the fence than the house, or my BGE!
Five years ago I experimented with brine for my turkey. I haven’t done one since without. Osmosis is a wonderful thing. It doesn’t produce a salty bird, just a juicy and tasty turkey that will surprise and astound your family.
My brine; kosher salt, whole black pepper, brown sugar, 2 whole cut clementines, sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic head, onions, and a little maple syrup for the hell of it. Submersed in a cold brine for 10 hours in a cooler and flipped every 4 hours or so (when I remembered). Rinsed and patted dry and ready for a smoky embrace. Stuffed with onions, garlic, rosemary, sage and clementines. Rubbed with a concoction of butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.
This year’s choice of smoke, maple wood! Sweet and light!
I’m practical with my smoking and realize that I don’t want to spend the day outside so I smoke for approximately 2 to 3 hours on my BGE. I finish inside in the oven. This way I’m paying attention to not only the bird but the veggies too! That and I don’t kill myself by falling on the ice! On transfer to the oven I cover with bacon to add more flavor and moisture. I found if you put it on while you smoke it the bacon holds back the smoke on the areas it covering. It also leaves a weird pattern. Get the smoke to the flesh first.
You might notice I haven’t mentioned stuffing. I choose to make mine on the side in a cast iron pan. I take some of the drippings from the pan I had underneath the bird in the BGE and mix them with the stuffing. I make a sausage stuffing. Sometimes duck but this year an artisanal porcini sausage. Wonderful combination!
20 minutes a pound and my 18lb bird was ready in 6 hours but I started checking them temperature after 4 hours. You have to take in account fluctuation in the fire and the temperature outside. Every time you open the lid, you drop the temp.
So here’s my bird! Garlic mash, turnip, green beans in a cream sauce, brandied carrots, and sausage stuffing.
Enjoy! We did!
Be well and eat well!