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Turkey Brine/Smoked Turkey

This is the recipe that I used to make our turkey for yesterday. It is the best turkey that I have ever eaten!! The recipe calls for smoking the turkey, I roasted mine and it worked perfectly. I first experimented with the recipe using two chickens. I let them soak for 24 hrs. then roasted them with a pan of water in the bottom of the over. They were picture perfect and tasted wonderful. I didn’t have fresh ginger so I substituted 2 tabs of ground ginger. It worked great.

 For the turkey, I thawed my 14-lb. turkey in the brine. I placed the hard-frozen turkey in the cooled brine and let it set out on the table overnight. I then put it in the fridge. The brine discourages bacterial growth. I used the fresh ginger on the turkey and it was great too.

 You can also use this brine with other meats. Even though I don’t use pork, it will keep pork chops from getting dry and a pork roast would be fabulous. From John Ash, Fetter Vineyard’s Culinary Director, founded John Ash & Company restaurant in Santa Rosa, Calif.

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup coarse salt

3 whole heads garlic, cloves separated and bruised 6 large bay leaves

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped unpeeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes

1 1/2 cups soy sauce

3 quarts’ water

1 (12- to 14-pound) dressed fresh turkey or frozen turkey, thawed

Olive oil

Combine brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, garlic, bay leaves, ginger, pepper flakes, soy sauce and water in a large enamel or stainless-steel stockpot that is large enough to hold brine and turkey. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and let cool completely.

Rinse turkey well. Remove neck and giblets; save for stock or discard.

Submerge turkey in cooled brine. If brine does not cover the bird, add water to cover. Refrigerate at least 2 days and up to 4 days. Turn bird in brine twice a day.

Remove bird from brine; pat dry. Lightly brush bird with olive oil; set aside. Prepare barbecue by lighting 24 charcoal briquettes (preferably in a chimney starter). When hot and spotted gray, divide in half; push to opposite sides of the grate. Place metal drip pan, at least 1 inch deep, in center with hot coals on either side. Pan should be large enough to catch drips from anywhere off the turkey.

Place wood smoking chips in center of double layer of heavy-duty foil cut approximately 10 inches’ square. Form foil into bag shape, leaving top open; place on top of one of the mounds of hot coals (or use a 6-inch cast-iron skillet to hold wood chips; look for one at garage sales and keep it for this purpose).

Put upper rack of barbecue in place; center turkey over drip pan. Cover barbecue and partially close air vents to restrict oxygen but not so much so that you put out the coals.

Within a few minutes, wood chips should start smoking. Regulate vents to keep chips smoking and coals slowly burning. Check every 25 minutes or so to make sure coals are still hot and smoke is continuing. Add charcoal and additional chips as needed. Internal temperature of barbecue should be in 275- to 325-degree range. I like to keep smoke going 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

After that, I remove any remaining wood chips and continue cooking without smoke until bird is done. This ensures that the turkey is not going to be too smoky in flavor; you can adjust to your own taste.

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