Are you bored of making your Thanksgiving turkey the same way every year? Sure, it tastes great, but if you really want to show your family how much you care about them, smoking your turkey will leave them wanting more. But how do you get started? There are some initial hurdles that a beginning smoker needs to tackle, and I want to help you get started with the basics.
Things to Look for When Buying a Smoker
Electric and gas smokers are okay, but they aren’t the best choice for flavor. Firewood and pellet smokers are the best choice if you are looking for really flavorful turkey. Here are a few important tips, courtesy of AmazingRibs.com, to keep in mind before you go to buy your smoker:
- Temperature Control – Is there a thermostat on the smoker that you can set and forget? Or do you have to stand by the smoker to monitor the temperature? Beginners may want to select a set-and-forget smoker while the more advanced smokers will want to stand by their meat and monitor the temperature. Also, is the temperature even across the smoker? Or is there a mild temperature change from the top to the bottom of the cabinet?
- Materials – What is the smoker made out of? Thick steel smokers will absorb the heat and then evenly distribute it across the entirety of the smoker, evenly cooking your food. The smoker should also be well insulated so it doesn’t leak any smoke/heat.
- Water Pan – Most smokers will come with a pan that goes directly above the heat source, you can fill it with water, beer, or wine- but I suggest you just use water. This will keep your meat from drying out.
- Easy Access to Fuel – A good smoker will let you add wood and charcoal easily, as well as refill your water pan without the risk of getting burned.
Everyone swears by different woods, so there is no rule to follow when selecting what kind to use. The Grillin’ Fools offers a very interesting perspective on types of wood to use and in what form. Here is a quick breakdown of their recommendations:
- Use Un-Soaked Wood Chunks – Wood chunks are good for every scenario (except when smoking on a gas grill). You do not want to soak them because they will take longer to start to produce smoke and they last much longer than chips.
- Bark is Irrelevant – It does not matter if your wood has bark on it, some people swear by one or the other, but there really isn’t a difference in the taste.
- Best Wood to Burn for all Meat – Here is a short list of woods that you can use with all meats: Acacia, Almond, Apple, Apricot, Bay, Beech, Cherry, Chestnut, Cottonwood, Fig, Hickory, Oak, and Plum.
- Wood that Should Not be Used for Smoking – Pine, Fir, Spruce, Redwood Conifer, Cedar, Elm, Eucalyptus, Sycamore, Liquid Amber, Cypress, Elderberry, or Sweet Gum. Never use lumber scraps or wood that has been painted or stained or wood from old pallets.
- Kiln Dried Wood – Of course, I strongly suggest that you use kiln dried firewood for smoking. It is environmentally safe and provides the best flavors.
Now that you have your basics down, here are some awesome smoked turkey recipes to “wow” your family on Thanksgiving:
Chowhound – Smoked Turkey
The Food Network – Honey Brined Smoked Turkey
HEB – Bourbon Smoked Turkey
Premier Firewood Company™ Can Help You Produce a Smokin’ Turkey
Premier Firewood Company™ offers some of the best cooking woods, including Oak, Hickory, Cherry, Apple, and Mixed hardwood in the form of logs, chunks, or chips- and they are all kiln dried! Give us a call at (203)866-4252 or order online today!