NOTE: This recipe produces spectacular results with oven roasted or smoked turkeys.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Brine Time: 10-12 hours or overnight
- Cook Time: 4-6 hours
- Smoker Temp: 240 to 300°F
- Meat Finish Temp: 165°F (Poultry must attain 165°F or higher to be safe to eat)
What You’ll Need
Turkey (we prefer them to be under 15 lbs for smoking)
- Miners Mix Seasonings
- Brine container or large plastic bag
Thaw your frozen turkey:
The following thawing advice is from http://dish.allrecipes.com/how-to-safely-thaw-frozen-turkey/
Three Ways to Safely Thaw Frozen Turkey
- Slow: Thaw in the Refrigerator
Timeline: Allow approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. A 10-pound bird will take about 2 days to thaw completely.
Tips for fridge thawing:
- Keep the turkey in its original wrapping while it’s thawing.
- Place breast-side-up in a baking pan to keep any drips from contaminating other foods and refrigerator surfaces.
- You can hold the thawed turkey in the fridge for up to 2 days before cooking.
- Medium: Thaw in Cold Water
Timeline: Allow approximately 30 minutes for every pound of turkey. A 10-pound bird will take about 5 hours to thaw completely.
Tips for cold-water thawing:
- Keep the turkey in its original wrapping, and place it in a larger, leak-proof plastic bag. Squeeze out extra air and seal the bag.
- Place the sealed bag breast-side down in a sink or bucket large enough so the turkey will be completely submerged. Fill with cold water. You may need to cover the turkey with a plate and place some heavy cans on top of it to keep it totally submerged. Change the cold water every 30 minutes.
- Cook or start to brine turkey immediately after thawing.
It is also possible to use a combination of the two methods: Use the fridge for the first two days of thawing, and finish in the sink early Thanksgiving morning.
- Fast: Thaw in a Microwave Oven
Timeline: Read the user manual for your oven to get instructions for thawing a frozen turkey. Times and power settings will be vary from model to model. In general, it could take an hour or more on the defrost setting, depending on the size of the turkey.
Tips for microwave thawing:
- Take the turkey out of its wrapping, and remove metal clips or tags.
- Place the turkey breast-side up in a microwave-safe pan to catch any drips.
- After the turkey is thawed, wash the inside of your microwave to prevent cross contamination.
- Cook or start to brine the turkey immediately after thawing.
The times shown are approximate, and are based on thawing a whole frozen turkey.
- Thaw time in the fridge requires about 24 hours for every 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at about 40° F.
- Thaw time in cold water requires about 30 minutes per pound in cold water, refreshed every 30 minutes.
| Weight of Bird
|| Thaw Time (Fridge)
|| Thaw Time (Cold Water)
|10 to 18 pounds
||2 to 3-1/2 days
||5 to 9 hours
|18 to 22 pounds
||3-1/2 to 4-1/2 days
||9 to 11 hours
|22 to 24 pounds
||4-1/2 to 5 days
||11 to 12 hours
|24 to 29 pounds
|| 5 to 6 days
||12 to 15 hours
We cannot over-emphasize food safety when it comes to thawing turkey. It’s important to keep the whole turkey at a safe temperature throughout the thawing process to prevent bacterial growth that can lead to foodborne illness. That’s why you never thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature on your kitchen counter, or in hot water.
Your turkey must be completely thawed for the brine to work correctly.
Miners Mix Brining Method:
Soaking meat in a particular ratio of salt and water causes salty water to be pulled into the bird. The water molecules attach themselves to the protein strands which results in a more succulent bird in the end.
How much brine do you need to make?
Place your turkey in the brining container such as an empty ice chest, large bowl, Jumbo 2-1/2 gallon Ziploc, etc. and pour plain water over it to see how much brine it will take to cover it. Take note of the amount of water necessary to cover the bird, then discard the water.
Most birds of 15 lbs or less will need less than 2 gallons to cover them completely if using a small ice chest.
Now that you know how much brine you’ll need, go ahead and mix it up, adjusting the recipe to make less or more than 2 gallons.
Buttermilk Brine for Poultry Ingredients:
- 1 gallon buttermilk
- 1 gallon water
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 6 TBS Miners Mix Maynard’s Memphis Rub
- Pour buttermilk into the brine container. We refill the empty cartons of buttermilk with water as an easy way to measure the amount of water. Add half the salt into each carton with the water and shake or stir the carton until the salt is dissolved.
Add the 6 tablespoons of Maynard’s Memphis Rub into the brine container and stir again until well mixed.
Submerge that Turkey!
Remove the turkey from the packaging and remove the neck, giblets or anything else that might be in the bird’s cavity. Rinse the bird before brining.
Place the turkey in the brine and use a non-metal heavy plate, bowl or even a bag of ice to weigh down the turkey if it tries to float. The turkey must be completely submerged during the process.
The turkey must stay between 33 and 39 degrees for safety.
The fridge is the best place to keep the turkey while brining, but our fridge is always too full, so we resort to using a cooler as shown in the accompanying video. First, we pour the brine into a large plastic bag, then submerge the turkey into the brine and squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible. We drape the open part of the bag over the lip of the cooler and cover the bag containing the turkey and brine with ice. Close the cooler lid on the draped bag to seal the bag and you’re done. The ice should keep things cold enough for the 11-12 hours needed to successfully brine a turkey, however, it would not hurt to check on the ice status and replenish after 5 hours or so.
After the 10-12 hour brine time has passed, remove the turkey and rinse well under cold water and begin to prep it for cooking.
Preparation of the turkey for Smoking or Roasting:
The brined turkey can either go into an oven or into a smoker. However, NEVER stuff your turkey if it’s going into a smoker. Stuffing a turkey increases the risk for food-borne illness, even if roasted in the oven, but smoking a stuffed turkey is a definite no no. Bacteria grow and prosper up to 140°F, so it’s very important to get your bird above that temperature as quickly as possible. Smokers tend to operate at lower temperatures than ovens, so as result the bird remains in that danger zone below 140°F long enough for bacteria to proliferate and cause nasty problems for your guests a few hours later. Smoking a stuffed bird greatly exacerbates the problem of getting past that danger zone ASAP. That’s why we prefer to smoke turkeys at higher temperatures (around 300°F or so) than do most other folks.
To prepare the bird for cooking we prefer to make a paste of the seasoning rub blended with melted butter. Miners Mix Maynard’s Memphis Seasoning and Rub is great on turkeys cooked any way you want to cook ‘em. Working from the cavity end, loosen the skin around the breast and down toward the thighs. We like to spoon several spoonfuls of the rub/butter paste into loose skin area so it’s directly on top of the meat. Once it’s under the skin, you can actually kind of work it down toward the thighs and all around under the skin by massaging the skin above the rub. Finally, we’ll paint the skin with the rub/butter paste and it’s good to go. If going into the oven, time to stuff the cavity. If going into the smoker, feel free to toss an onion, an apple, a bunch of garlic and/or some fresh rosemary into the cavity. Just don’t pack it in there like one does with stuffing.
If your smoker has a water pan, use it. You can also add juice, beer, broth and spices, onions, garlic, etc. to the bottom of the roasting pan to help flavor the meat. For smoking we prefer white wine and apples. The resulting drippings make fantastic gravy!
Remove the bird from the smoker or oven only when the thickest part of the thigh and breast read 165°F.
A step by step video of this process is coming to the Miners Mix YouTube channel shortly! Look for it here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7QH8FetViknb-d7SNqcLYQ