Applewood Smoked Turkey Breasts


This recipe works well for both the turkey you skillfully hunted and the one you hunted for in your grocery store. If you skinned your wild bird, it is very important to allow the breast to dry and become tacky prior to smoking. I prefer cherry or applewood chips, but use whatever you like.



Applewood Smoked Turkey Breasts

1 turkey breast (12 to 15 pounds) with or without skin

1 cup kosher salt

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup maple syrup

2 quarts apple juice

1 to 2 quarts water

Honey for brushing turkey during smoking

Mix the ingredients together in a nonreactive pot or container and submerge the turkey. Brine for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Remove turkey and dry off with paper towels. Trim, roll, and tie the breast with kitchen twine to form a log so the breast is a uniform shape and will smoke evenly. Return the uncovered breast to the refrigerator to dry. Allow to dry for several hours or until the surface becomes tacky. This tacky film or skin is called a pellicle and is a result of the denatured proteins created during the salt curing process. This film allows more of the smoke to adhere to the meat.

Place in a preheated 220 degree F smoker. Brush the breast several times with honey after the first hour of smoking to help keep it moist and add a touch of sweetness. Smoke for approximately 3 to 3 ½ hours or until a quick-read meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F. Open vents when smoking. If you use a smoker water pan when you smoke your meats, use the brine instead of water.

Allow the breast to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

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