How to Smoke or Fry a Turkey
Turkeys are very unique – and very American. They're also synonymous with Thanksgiving. There's nothing quite like a giant turkey at the center of the table for holiday gatherings.
Traditionally, turkeys have been slow roasted in the oven for hours, a true labor of love. There are, however, several other ways to cook a turkey. Consider breaking from tradition this year and smoking or frying your turkey.
“We recommend two turkeys – one smoked and one roasted – topped with our house seasoning. There’s nothing better than having leftovers for the following days,” explained Rochelle Holder, owner of Lakewood Meats & Sausage.
How to smoke a turkey
Smoking a turkey lets it continuously self-baste, resulting in an ultra-tender, richly flavored bird. If you've never smoked a turkey, it may seem intimidating, but it's actually simple and very forgiving. You don't even need any special tools. In fact, you can smoke a turkey using indirect heat on any grill.
- Set the turkey in a roasting pan in the refrigerator and leave it, uncovered, overnight. This allows it to dry thoroughly, helping the meat fully absorb the smoke.
- Place fresh herbs and aromatics like onions, apples, citrus, thyme, and garlic, inside the turkey. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper, then massage it in. Smoking lends such a bold flavor that it's best to keep seasoning simple.
- Set your grill to 225° and use wood chips or pellets to generate smoke. Try hickory, apple, or cherry wood.
- The cooking time depends on the turkey's size. A good rule of thumb is 30-40 minutes of smoking per pound. Your turkey should read 160° in the thickest part of the breast.
- Tent your turkey with foil and allow to rest before slicing.
How to fry a turkey
Let's be honest: Frying almost any food makes it a little more delicious. When that food is already deeply rooted in tradition, frying elevates it to a comfort food phenomenon. As a bonus, frying turkey takes significantly less time than roasting, and it frees up valuable oven real estate. You'll need a turkey fryer and enough cooking oil, preferably peanut or canola, to completely cover the turkey. Plan on at least 4-5 gallons.
- Create a marinade or brine and let your turkey sit in it overnight in the refrigerator. Be sure to get the marinade inside the cavity! In the morning, let it get up to room temperature. Tie the legs together with twine to prep it for frying.
- Set up your turkey fryer outside, several feet away from your house. Add the cooking oil before you light the burner.
- Ignite the burner and turn it to high, bringing the oil up to 350°.
- Turn the burner completely off, then slowly lower the turkey into the oil until it's submerged.
- Re-light the burner and bring the temperature back up to 350°. Adjust the burner, if necessary, to maintain a temperature of 325-350°. Your bird should require about three minutes of frying per pound. For example, a 15-pound turkey should fry for 45 minutes. It's done when it registers 155-160° in the thickest part of the breast.
- Turn off the burner before removing the turkey. Have a large pan nearby to transfer it, then let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
How will you be cooking your turkey this year? Connect with Lakewood Meats & Sausage on our Facebook page and let us know! Call us today or go online to order your turkey for in-store pickup. Stop by our store in Lodi to shop our premium meats, hand-tied sausages, and much more.