Buttermilk-Brined (Lightly) Smoked Turkey
Shout-out to Samin Nosrat for inspiring us to try a really wonderful idea! – and for giving us something super fun to focus on on the weirdest Christmas Day of all time. And of course, a big thanks to Brock to being so (obsessively) marvelous with his (over-the-top) collection of smokers, barbecues and grills. The poutine was my idea, Christmas dinner was awesome – enjoy!
1 fresh turkey (10 to 15 lbs. – ours was closer to 15 lbs.) – the original instructions are to spatchcock the turkey but Brock made a mistake (for real! this actually happened!), and accidently started cutting up the turkey on the wrong side. This led to cutting the turkey completely in half, and therefore possibly one of the best cooking mis-steps of 2020. Cutting a turkey in half not only makes it easier to manage, but it’s easier to brine, the roasting time is greatly reduced and halving a big bird also gives you options for potentially freezing a side. You decide!
4 L buttermilk AND a healthy 1/2 c. fine sea salt (this was for our size turkey, you may need more, or less)
Add the buttermilk and salt to a large Ziploc and stir as best as you can to dissolve it. Add the turkey, seal the bag tightly and place it on a large baking sheet (or whatever your back up is in case of leakage). Brine in the fridge for about 48 hours, turning the bag over or giving it a stir 3 to 4 times a day.
Make a plan and start getting ready – take the turkey out of the buttermilk and wipe it off. There’s zero reason to be particularly fussy about this. Leave the turkey out on a large baking sheet, uncovered, to rest and come to room temperature – this will take about 3 hours.
When you’re ready to roast/grill/barbecue/cook – roast the turkey, skin side up, at 350 to 400 degrees on a charcoal grill until the thickest part of the breast reaches 150 and the thickest part of the leg reaches 160. Our turkey took about 2 hours. When it’s reached the appropriate internal temperature(s), take the turkey off the grill and leave it to rest for about 30 minutes. We left ours uncovered to save the crispy skin and as mentioned, we indulged with a large side of poutine, and, of course, Brock’s Cranberry Sauce!