If frozen, thaw the turkey. As a rule of thumb, you will need one day in the refrigerator for ever 5 pounds of turkey. I always give myself an extra day or two, to be safe. Place the turkey on a large baking sheet as it thaws, to trap any liquid released while thawing.
Remove neck and giblets. Remove the fully-thawed turkey from its packaging and remove the neck (usually located within the main cavity) and giblets (usually contained in a small sack located within the smaller cavity towards the front of the bird). You can discard both of these or save them for turkey gravy.
Brine the turkey:
We recommend this simple turkey brine. (If using a frozen turkey, it can be added to the brine near the end of the thawing process).
Prepare herb butter:
Add 1 cup softened butter to a mixing bowl and add finely chopped rosemary, thyme and garlic. Add the salt and pepper and mix well. (The herb butter can be made several days in advance).
Spread Herb Butter under Turkey Skin:
Remove the turkey from the brine (discard brine) and pat turkey dry thoroughly with paper towels. Place on a large baking tray. Carefully use your hands to separate the skin of the turkey from the breast (just above the main cavity of the bird). Spread the herb butter between the skin and breast of the turkey. Take care not to tear or puncture the skin as you create a large pocket over each of the breasts.
Season and Truss:
Season the inside cavity of the bird well with salt and pepper and add sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Cut the garlic bulb in half horizontally and place both halves inside the cavity. Truss the bird with cotton baking twine or reuse the Hock Lock that it came with. Drizzle the entire outside of the bird with olive oil, spreading it over all surfaces with your hands. Season the entire bird well with salt and pepper. Tuck the wings underneath the bird.
Place in roasting pan:
Roughly chop celery, carrots and onion into chunks and place in the bottom of your roasting pan. Add garlic cloves, rosemary, and thyme to the pan along with chicken stock and place the turkey right on top of the veggies. They will act as a rack.
Smoke the turkey:
Prepare your wood pellet (Traeger), charcoal, electric, or gas grill for smoking (see instructions above). Preheat grill to 300 degrees, then place the turkey (uncovered and in the roasting pan) on the grill. (See graph above for general cook times based on grill type).
Smoke to internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Use your thermometer to check the thickest part of the breast meat. Cook with the grill lid closed and avoid opening the lid as much as possible.
Digital Bluetooth thermometer: If you have a digital bluetooth thermometer that connects to your grill, insert the thermometer so that the tip is situated in the thickest part of the breast and close the lid. Check the turkey temperature from your phone.Handheld thermometer: If you use a handheld digital thermometer, close the lid and check the temperature of the bird every 30 minutes starting at the 2 ½ hour mark.
Cover and Rest:
Once the turkey reaches 160 degrees, remove it from the grill and cover with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for at least 15 -20 minutes before carving. It will continue to cook as it rests, to reach 165 degrees.
This is the perfect time to strain the drippings from the bottom of the pan and make some delicious gravy! Don't miss my tutorial for How to Carve a Turkey!
Turkey: For best results, choose a smaller turkey, less than 15 pounds. If feeding more than 12-14 people, consider cooking two turkeys. (Larger turkeys will take significantly longer to smoke, which can lead to health safety issues, and a dry turkey.There is no need to wash the turkey before smoking as any bacteria on the turkey will be killed during cooking. Simply remove the turkey from the packaging and use paper towels to dry it off.Roasting Pan: A metal roasting pan is not necessary for smoking a turkey. In fact, I prefer the ease of a disposable roasting pan. How to Carve a Turkey video and photos.Recipe from my Father-in-Law, Dave Allen.