As usual, when it comes time to cook a big meal that I haven’t done in a while, I always replenish my creative juices by thumbing through the many cookbooks in the kitchen. It’s no different this time of year. So, pulling down a couple of Cajun traditions I start mentally collecting different spices, techniques, styles, and prep rituals. But cookbooks are as varied as the chefs that write the recipes.
This year I’ll smoke Thomas on a Big Green Egg. I’ve checked their own recipes on how to cook the bird and how to set up the smoker, so I’ll use a little of what they recommend and a little of what I already know.
First of all, lets talk turkey. I like a small, young, fresh bird as compared to something gargantuan. In the wild a really big turkey is only about 18 pounds. The other day I was shopping in a local restaurant supply store and the turkeys in the freezer case were 25 pounds and above. I don’t know where that guy came from. I like sticking with something you’d see that’s a little more natural. Mother Nature doesn’t often get it wrong. Free range turkeys that are pasture feed from producers like White Oak Pastures, a Georgia family run farm, will only weigh around 15 pounds.
No one likes a big old tough Tom. Not even an old Ethyl. She’d prefer a young Thomas.
Set the Big Green Egg up to cook indirectly, that is, turning the plate so the legs are straight up in the air. If using a wood to give off that smoked smell and flavor, use a Pecan or Cherry wood. The chips can be purchased at any hardware store. Better yet, throw some natural aged pecan wood directly on the lump charcoal. Pecan is a hard wood. It’ll burn low and give off a nice flavor.
Baste Thomas with a fine olive oil. Season generously with a good dry rub. I prefer my own concoction called ZimZalt, A Cajun Seasoning & Rub (shameless plug here). It’s low on sodium, has no MSG or preservatives and makes a wonderful stocking stuffer.
The Big Green Egg recipe book says to cook at a temperature of 350, timing it to be about 15 minutes per pound. I prefer to cook Thomas a little slower, say at the 300 degree mark and letting it stay on about 30 minutes longer. Whatever, the Egg is a fine cooking instrument that requires little watching.
Always use a good meat thermometer, checking in couple of places before taking Thomas off the fire.
He should sit for about 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Nice and tender, juicy and moist.
Succulent and satisfying….Ethel would enjoy.