So how was your holiday? Beppo and I spend our Thanksgiving at home, just the two of us. Every year I face the challenge of how to satisfy the Thanksgiving food cravings we both have, without overloading our plates, bellies or the refrigerator.
This means I have to limit the number of dishes on the table, and generally rules out turkey. Historically, we've had a chicken instead and that has satisfied our bird requirements. This year though, I became enraptured with the thought of having a locally-raised turkey. Tendercrop Farms, our local (year-round) farm market sells their own turkeys, and on a whim, I ordered one. The smallest turkey available weighed in at 11.5 pounds so I decided we'd cook the breast on Thanksgiving and I'd confit the legs and wings later (once I collect enough fat to do that with).
I cut the bird apart into its various parts and promptly put the neck, giblets and backbone into the stockpot. The legs and wings went into bags for freezer storage and the breast went into a brine solution in the fridge.
I thought it would be fun to try smoking the breast meat, so I turned to the web and settled on Steven Raichlen's method. I brined the breast and smoked it for about 1.5 hours (until the thermometer read 150).
This method worked wonderfully: the breast meat was juicy and flavorful and the oven was freed up for everything else that needed to go into it. I was also thrilled with the turkey's flavor. (I purchased a "natural" turkey breast at Whole Foods years ago: the flavor was unpleasantly gamy.) This bird was juicy and tasted wonderfully turkey-ish.
The drawbacks: the skin never browned so the presentation was sorta crappy and the applewood chips didn't seem to give much flavor at all (a benefit too: I can still make broth from the carcass).