Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hot Smoked Turkey | Charcutepalooza, practice run

This month’s charcutepalooza challenge was easily my favorite one so far.  Maybe because it didn’t require maintaining frosty temperatures in my apartment like the pancetta challenge, or because it didn’t take up every usable inch of space in my fridge (the brining challenge...).  Most likely this was my favorite because my parents were generous enough to let ken and I to stay at their summer home for a weekend, where we completed the challenge.  Try to imagine cooking with this view, and not loving every minute of it!

Plus for once we had a well-sized and -equipped kitchen, a striking contrast to the tiny window-less closet we call a kitchen back home.  And the icing on the cake: access to a Bradley smoker - perfect for this month’s challenge: hot smoking!  
Although the Charcutiere challenge was to hot smoke either pork shoulder for tasso or tenderloin for canadian bacon, we started with a practice run of smoked turkey.  And its a good thing we did, because we had some issues using the Bradley which we managed to resolve by the time we got to the real challenge: pork.  
I usually prefer buying whole birds in order to have carcasses for stock, so despite the fact we were only cooking for two, we used a whole turkey from DiPaolo’s Turkey Farm stand at the greenmarket.  This turkey was pieced, brined then smoked over hickory.
Ironically, (as cold smoking is supposed to be the more difficult process) we could not get the Bradley smoker to go above 100 degrees.  After leaving the turkey in the smoker for a couple hours essentially cold smoking it, we moved it to the weber, where we finished the cooking process.
We were slightly nervous eating this turkey, since it sat at 100 degrees for two hours before finally being cooked through.  But, emboldened by the careful sourcing of the bird and the pink salt in the brine, we went ahead and ate what turned out to be delicious turkey.
Yes it was more than enough to feed two people but with turkey that tastes this good, we made sure none of it went to waste.  The smoked thighs and legs were devoured straight.  One breast was sliced for sandwiches and a so-cal-mex quesadilla we threw together for a quick weeknight meal.
The other breast, which we diced and shredded, along with the wings were a perfect addition to soups and vegetable dishes, providing a nice meaty smoky flavor.  We used some in a lentil soup (made with stock from the turkey carcass), and the rest is in the freezer for future use.
This cooking process exemplifies why I like to buy whole birds (and if I someday have the freezer space, would like to purchase whole animals as well).  From just one 13 pound bird, we managed to prepare four meals for the two of us, plus a couple turkey sandwiches, with more in the freezer for later use.  After eating these farm raised turkeys - with meat that is dense and tasting of, well, turkey, I’d be hard pressed to go back to eating just any supermarket butterball.  Turkey like this makes you realize why turkey is a wonderful food in its own right, and not just an over-sized bland chicken substitute to feed extended families on holidays.

1 comment:

  1. It's good to know there's some in the freezer I can ask to try ; )