This Holiday Season, FLIP THEM THE BIRD!!
news - BBQ News 2010

  This Holiday Season, Flip Them the Bird!

By Brent Walton

 It’s hard to believe the holiday season is upon us already. As Fall and Winter begin to set in, what we eat and cook begins to change as well. This time of year it’s so-long fruits and salads, hello soups and chilis. These are among some of my favorite things to cook and eat. What I had in mind for this year was a challenge for you to take control of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner (at least the Turkey part)! No more being subject to Aunt Martha’s dry-as-a-desert turkey, or Grandma’s uninteresting, cooked-in-a-bag, injected, stuffed, nightmare bird that no amount of gravy can help you to choke it down. Your new tradition will be a smoked and/or fried turkey for the holidays making you a hero and in demand at all the holiday dinners. You will be kowtowed, too, with offers of “can I get you another beer or anything, perhaps a snack?” Plus you can do all this with out missing a single minute of football. It’s true. And after dinner you will be showered with complements and praise for your cooking ability and the hard work you did for your family. Take it all in. Lean way back in your chair, fold your hands behind your head, elbows out, with a smile on your face and satisfaction in your soul: you just made the best damn turkey your friends and family have ever eaten!


It really is not that hard but you need to follow directions the first few times.

I’m going to suggest some websites that can give you details and step by step processes to insure success. We will go over some generic suggestions and information here and after refer you to the websites.





Buying your Turkey

Suggest you stay in the 12 to 16 pound range for either fried or smoked turkey.

You do not need a high end “free range” or “butterball” turkey.

You are going to cook this without any “stuffing” (Aunt Martha can do that, it’s a win-win no hurt feelings from Aunt Martha over the turkey).

Cooking Equipment

Turkey Fryers

Recommend you buy a turkey fryer set. They are really inexpensive and have everything you need besides you will be getting a lot of use out of it from now on. These are available at all the big box home stores and retailers. They are run with propane gas to heat the oil. Important! Buy peanut oil only, nothing else, no blends or synthetic cook alike. They usually sell peanut oil in 3 to 5 gallon containers- this is what you need. The peanut oil costs more, but really brings a ton of flavor to the fried turkeys. Follow All Safety Procedures! We don’t want to see you on the news at eleven. There is a procedure on how to figure out how much oil goes in the pot by using water first, follow that procedure.

Smokers for turkey

I recommend you buy this item as well. Although you can do this on a grill such as a Weber or even a gas grill, but it requires a little more attention to make it work correctly. Websites can really help you here. Simple smokers like the Brinkman or Weber Smokey Mountain are the best for starting out. Important! NO ELECTRIC SMOKERS. Use charcoal and wood burning combination types for best results.

Prepping your bird

Brine your turkey in salt water for 12 to 24 hours in advance of cooking. After you put the bird in the salt and ice water solution, I like to change the water after about 4 hours to fresh water/ice then repeat it again for about 4 to 6 hours, then back into water and ice with salt solution and maybe add some honey and or lemons and oranges for the rest of the brine time. The first couple of times your turkey will become “clean” caused by the salt drawing out the “icky” stuff. Your turkey will taste much better, I promise. Dry off your bird before cooking it especially before lowering it into hot oil.



Cooking Tips

Cooking turkeys will change your whole outlook of the holiday season. You are going to be amazed at how good turkey can be: moist, tender, flavorful…usually words not associated with holiday turkey. My cooking tips would be not to cook to doneness suggested by most, but to about 160 degrees and let it rest about 15 -20 minutes before you carve your masterpiece. You do not have to inject Cajun or butter flavors into turkey to make them have flavor, salt and pepper will do the trick after you cook them. Check out these websites (there are plenty more but these are straightforward, simple and complete).