My favorite thing to get from the deli. But until I began a sodium- restricted diet, I didn’t realize how extra salty the stuff was. I had a slice after a few days on low sodium, and practically gagged. So I remembered Emeril doing a show a few weeks ago on home smoking meats, thought, “I could make my own mesquite- smoked turkey,” then set out to bring the idea to life. The journey to homemade mesquite- smoked turkey wonderland begins.
01/30: Tried to find turkey breast at King Soopers. They have it all right: Butterball, injected with broth. The broth contains modified food starch. ::: sigh ::: Why do they do these things? The butcher cannot order in NON-modified food starched turkey breast. Note to self: check Sunflower Market, and Whole Foods, if all else fails.
02/03: Where to find mesquite wood chips? A not so quick Google search leads me to barbequewood.com, where a more than adequate supply of mesquite, pecan, and pear (!) wood chips are ordered. Let’s hope they have fast shipping!
02/03: Now, how did Emeril build that homemade smoker anyhow? Ah! Chickens Smoked in a Homemade Smoker! I have everything I need but … rats! I should have been saving my tuna cans! I need 8 of them. I think inverted bouillon cups should work; Fiesta is oven proof. Note to self: save all tuna cans this week. Also make new batch of Essence without the salt, so as to be prepared when I find the turkey breast and possibly a local source for mesquite wood chips.
02/04: Whole Foods carries non- modified food starched turkey breast for a whopping $8.99 a pound. That makes one turkey breast outrageously expensive. Vitamin Cottage does not carry turkey or turkey breast (just ground turkey), and Sunflower Market carries the same injected turkey breast that King Soopers does. So, I bit the bullet and got turkey breast from Whole Foods. (youch!) But when this mesquite- smoked turkey is done, it will have “Keep Out! Mom’s Outrageously Expensive Gluten- Free Mesquite Smoked Turkey! DEATH TO ALL WHO ENTER HERE!” marked across it. Oh, and Whole Foods also has big bags of mesquite and hickory wood chips for like $3 or $4, so on Monday, the Great Homemade Mesquite- Smoked Turkey Adventure will begin!
02/05: I planned to smoke the turkey today, but after rereading Emeril’s instructions (Broken link, February 3, 2007), I realized I needed to let the turkey breast “marinate” in Emeril’s Essence for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day. So I made a batch of Emeril’s Essence, minus the salt, and thoroughly covered both turkey breasts with it, then wrapped them in double plastic, and popped them into the refrigerator until tomorrow. I semi-assembled the smoker, and measured out 1 cup of mesquite wood chips and began soaking them in water. I read on the back of the mesquite wood chip bag, “Warning: do not use for indoor heating or cooking unless ventilation is provided for exhausting fumes to outside. Toxic fumes may accumulate and cause death.” Wow. Good to know. Note to self: have oven vent on at all times during smoking the meat tomorrow.
02/06: Turkey smoked! Dad was so impressed with my homemade smoker that he quickly thawed out our last whole turkey (in the freezer from the holidays) and smoked it too! Okay, I learned that if in the oven too short a time, the turkey will not be done, but if in the oven too long, the meat will dry out. Emeril’s instructions (Broken link, February 3, 2007) are for whole chickens, which, since they have a cavity, will cook at a different rate than a turkey breast, which is a solid hunk of meat about the size of a whole chicken. Alton Brown says that the breast meat should register 160 degrees before being considered done. I didn’t do the meat thermometer with my turkey breasts and they were in a little too long. Yummy, just need to eat with barbecue sauce or a little turkey gravy. Dad used the thermometer with his, took it out when it reached 155, and while resting covered, the thermometer continued to move up until it hit 160. Dad’s turkey was moist moist moist (and we will have it for dinner Friday night if any of you kids want to come over). So lesson learned: after 2 hours (for breasts) or 3 hours (for a whole bird), check the turkey periodically with a meat thermometer until the temp is 155, remove from oven, let rest covered for 15 minutes, then enjoy scrumptious turkey!