Thanksgiving turkey is one of those traditions you don't mess with – somebody in your family will cut you out of their will if you change the way you cook it. They'll expect the same, oven-roasted bird that's been the done the exact same way in your family since they landed on the Mayflower. But why not buck tradition with a second turkey, cooked outside on the smoker? Here's some ideas for those iconoclasts.
1) Smoked Turkey Legs
Not every family will be able to eat two entire turkeys, so why not cook some turkey parts outside? Just pick up however many legs you need for the dark-meat lovers, and use the indirect roasting technique we covered earlier this year right here on Stick a Fork In It. My method conveniently uses a standard, Weber kettle grill, which is a more commonly-owned piece of equipment in most backyards than a smoker.
2. Smoked Turkey Breasts
Can't please everyone with dark meat? Fine. Then try Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe's method for smoking bone-in turkey breasts. Like my method, Ray also recommends checking the internal temperature of the turkey with an instant-read thermometer and pulling the bird when it hits 160F degrees. Cook it any higher, and your bird will begin to dry out.
3. Split whole turkey on a smoker
What if you do have a smoker? One way you can get your bird to cook a little faster is to split the bird in half, spatchcock-style. You can split the bird by cutting the breastbone in half, but it's not as attractive as splitting the backbone instead. Cut along the spine, and try the method shown in Pitmaster Donny T's video, who's know in BBQ circles as Popdaddy.
4. Whole, whole turkey on the grill
So you don't have a smoker but want to cook an entire bird? You only have a standard Weber kettle grill? Then a spatchcocked chicken isn't going to fit on the grill. Don't worry, try this method on Instructables.comYour grill may be different than the one shown in this tutorial, but the principles are sound. Pile your charcoal offset to one side of the grill, and cook your turkey on the opposite side. Use a drip pan under the turkey, so it catches the copious amounts of fat the bird will throw off. Once the fire catches, run your grill's vents nearly closed, so that the cooker temperature doesn't exceed 325F.
Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!