Holiday Smoked Turkey

Happy New Year everyone!!  This is John The Midwest Flatlander here with a great holiday turkey idea to inspire the inner pit master in all of us.  Okay so I love love love barbecue, and I'm always trying to learn new techniques and recipes to try and perfect if I can.  Well, I've stumbled on to a great new method of smoking all different kinds of bbq meats.  I thought I would share a few posts on some of the things I've smoked using this new method.  So, let's discuss turkey.


I've done turkey on the grill before, but I've never done one on a smoker.  That is until I met the Pit Barrel Cooker.  I first saw this smoker on Steven Reichland's Primal Grill TV show--one of my favorite grilling shows.  He used it for smoking chicken which I have not tried yet.  Don't worry, it's on the list.  Anyway, the Pit Barrel Cooker is a 30 gallon ceramic coated drum with holes at the top that hold two ceramic coated pieces of re-bar as well as a vent hole at the bottom.  This design allows you to hang meat over a coal basket and achieve even cooking.  This even cooking happens because of the round shape of the barrel coupled with the position of vent hole at the bottom and re-bar holes at the top.  The smoke swirls around inside the barrel creating a vortex effect resulting in even cooking around any piece or pieces of meat you hang inside.  It is an amazing concept and produces fantastic results as you will see in this and other posts.


Okay, so enough geek speak about the Pit Barrel.  Time to get this bird into the barrel.  Let's get cooking!  It's turkey time.


I started with a 20 pound turkey and coated it with oil.  I used peanut oil, but you can also use olive oil or any other type of cooking oil.  If you use coconut oil, be sure to warm it up and apply it in liquid form.  The oil will act as an adhesive for the rub.  So when I bought the Pit Barrel, it came with two packs of rub that Pit Barrel makes.  I decided to go with their All Purpose Pit Rub for my first smoke.  Use your favorite rub.  Apply that rub to the turkey.  Be as generous as you like.


The turkey should look something like this when you are done depending on how generous you were with your rub.  I tried to be generous.  Since this bird will hang inside the Pit Barrel, you will need to use the meat hooks that come with the Pit Barrel or the Turkey Hanger which is an extra accessory I purchased with the Pit Barrel.  You can also purchase it using the above link.  Now that the bird is ready, let's setup the Pit Barrel.


The recommended charcoal to use with the Pit Barrel is Kingsford Original, so that is what I used.  Simply fill the coal basket that comes with the Pit Barrel with the charcoal briquettes until full.

img_2633Then, remove about 1/4 of the briquettes and place them into a chimney starter and light as you would normally light your chimney starter.  Do not use lighter fluid!


Place the charcoal basket into the Pit Barrel, and add your favorite wood chunks.  I used hickory, but you can you use favorite wood.  Once the chimney coals are hot, pour them directly on top of the rest of the charcoal in the basket and insert the re-bar.


This method replicates the "upside down fire" method of building a slow burning camp fire by building a small fire on top of a larger pile of wood as shown in the above linked video done by YouTuber Cr0cket20 (one of my favorite YouTubers).  You can check out his YouTube channel here.  Once I poured the lit coals into the charcoal basket, I waited maybe 15 minutes before putting the turkey in just to let it get going.  Once I saw that smoke coming out, I knew it was go time!



Time to hang the bird.  Simply place the bird in between the re-bar and hang it.  If you use the meat hooks that come with the Pit Barrel, place one over each piece of re-bar.  If you use the Turkey Hanger like I did, simply place the turkey in between the re-bar and rotate one quarter turn and set the ends on the re-bar.  It should look like this.



Total smoke time for this 20 pounder was approximately 7 hours reaching an internal temperature of approximately 175 degrees F.  Since the charcoal burns top down, it burns slow enough that I do not have to add any additional charcoal while smoking which is great.  The only adjustment I made was to set the vent hole to half open.  No other adjustments require.  Nice and easy.  I started taking temperatures at 4 hours to check on the progress.  Once the internal temp hit 175, I took the bird out and let it rest for about 45 mins in an aluminum foil tent.  Here is what it looked like when I took it off.

img_2640The skin turned basically to a very leathery texture which it great, because the meat inside was so tender and juicy.  It was amazing!


Here is the finish.  I fried up some hash brown potatoes and threw on some Curley's BBQ Sauce (my personal favorite).  Home run!!!!  Touchdown!!!!  Goal!!!!  So tender and juicy, and the flavor was amazing!



I hope this inspires you to try smoking a turkey for yourself.  The Pit Barrel is a great method for smoking, but it is not the only way.  Use your favorite method and get out and smoke or grill your favorite meat for the holidays or anytime.  What a great way to enjoy good food with family and friends!


That will do it for this session.  I'll see you next time, and remember leave no trace...leave a legacy.



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