Smoke That Turkey, Girl!

11.25.2009

By Noah Michelson

But more importantly, the
Big Green Egg smokes shit better than Lil Wayne (and he smokes a lot of
shit.) Its ceramic shell traps heat and smoke inside it, thus allowing
normally long-smoked things like pork butts and turkey bodies to take a
shockingly short time. This, of course, makes it the perfect
Thanksgiving tool since, as a rule of thumb, the less one has to do on
Thanksgiving day, the less stress one suffers and the less fighting one
does with ones father who, for five years running, decides Thanksgiving
is the perfect time to discuss the evils of abortion, stem-cell
research and NPR.

To test out the BGE and its turkey-making capacity, last Sunday I squared off with it for an
early dry run entitled, “Happy Thanksgiving, Things May Still Go
Wrong.” I had, on my side, a bunch of charcoal, some pre-soaked hickory
chips (the moisture better releases their flavor) and a ten pound
turkey from Frank Reese’s Heritage Farms, one of the most humane
poultry concerns in the country and certified by the Animal Welfare
Program.

Franklin, I named my turkey
Franklin, came with his legs tucked into its ass, like some sort of crazy yoga turkey. Happily, Franklin was flexible and easy to
prepare. I’d say Franklin was a good-natured baby. I rinsed him inside
and out with cold water and patted him dry. Though the recipe calls for
BBQ dry rub, I made do with salt, pepper and some garlic powder. I introduced a halved yellow onion into his body
cavity, for moisture, bound him and bid him lie on a trivet above a
roasting pan. I threw a celery stick and another halved onion into the
roasting pan along with 4 cups of low sodium organic chicken stock just
so Franklin would have some things to play with during time out and
took him to meet the Egg out back.

The Egg was holding steady
at 350F. (The nice thing about the Egg is that it heats up quickly and
holds steady with two adjustable air-flow vents that allow for almost
instant and reliable adjusting.)  A turkey takes 12-15 minutes per
pound and it was T-2 hours until there would be boots on the ground so
I placed Franklin, wet-skinned and beige, into the Egg, and told him
I’d be back when he was browned and delicious and when his breast meat
was at 160F (and the thigh meat read 170F). He sizzled, which is his
way of saying, “KTHNXBAI.”

Franklin matured in that
Egg on that autumnal Sunday afternoon. When I returned in two and a
half hours time, his skin had turned caramel brown and crispy. The
chicken broth had been transubstantiated into his steaming flesh. He
smelled nice, smoky and rich. I smelled obscenely like whisky for,
having nothing else to do, I had joined my guests in drinking heavily.
Franklin rested for a quarter of an hour, while he sucked up his own
juices. When we ate him, he was unsurprisingly a smokier more flavorful
bird. The hickory wood had gently tanned and toasted his skin while his
breast remained moist.

-- JOSHUA DAVID STEIN

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