Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dinner Tonight: Smoked Turkey Breast

Last November, when turkeys were on sale in the days after Thanksgiving, I bought a bird and stashed it in the freezer. Last week, I decided it was time to thaw the bird and free some freezer space.

When it was thawed, I cut it into pieces: two wings, two legs, two thighs, and two breast halves. Neck, back, and giblets went into the crockpot to make stock while the cut sections went into a brine with some apple cider, salt, peppercorns and a few poultry-friendly spices for an overnight spa treatment.

Next day, the turkey pieces came out of the brine and I rinsed it, patted it dry, and grabbed a thigh and breast to grind up for another recipe. The rest went back to the fridge for a little drying session.

Smoking came the next day. I smoked the remaining breast half and wings with applewood and I smoked the two legs and the remaining thigh with oak. All of this was done in my handy little stovetop smoker. It looks sort of like a little Weber grill, but it's made by NordicWare.

Yeah, it's not the same as smoking outdoors in a real smoker, but it's still good. And I can use on days when it's too cold and miserable for me to want to poke my toes outdoors.

The key to using the stovetop smoker to its best advantage is to get the temperature adjusted so that it's high enough so that smoke is created, but it's low enough so the wood keeps smoldering for a long time and so the meat cooks very slowly and has time to take on the smoky flavor.

The breast and wing sections were in the smoker low and slow for a couple hours before the breast temp reached 160 degrees.

But we're not done yet. The smoked meat was cooled, then refrigerated. The legs, wings and thigh have been set aside for future use, but the breast was destined for tonight's dinner. I glazed it with some apricot goo I had left over from another recipe, and popped it in the oven to warm up to serving temp. It was already fully cooked from the smoking, so I just wanted the glaze to get happy and the turkey to reach a serving temp.

The meat was moist, tender, and smoky and the apricot glaze added a nice sweet-tart accent. Makes me almost sad that there isn't another turkey in the freezer. Silly me, I forgot to take photos of it right out of the oven, but here it is just as I was packing it up for tomorrow.