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So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Posted by on Nov 23, 2012 in NonVeg | 1 comment

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving …hmmmm..where do i start?It is an American tradition which i have grown to LOVE.For the lack of growing up with thanksgiving,i have advantage of making my own thanksgiving tradition,from what i hear, see and perceive unhinged !When i hear my American friend saying that my mom always made this dish for us on thanksgiving or this was my grandmother’s fav dish or i remember how fun it was growing up with thanksgiving or we did this or that..i think of Holi, Diwali ,Dusherra,some of the indian festivals that i grew up with.

So this year,we started a “thankful” tree.I will admit that we were not able to keep up with adding leaves on daily basis but nonetheless we “Thanked”  everyday for the bountiful of blessing that God,our Father, has blessed us with.We talked to our children and i would want to say that our children understood it.

Our pastor said,”Thankfulness comes after humility“.So our goal is to inculcate that in our children.We may or may not have more fuller ‘thankful’ tree in coming years but we are THANKFUL to OUR LORD in  ways above and beyond,not only for the materialistic things but the non tangible things that we are blessed with as believer of the cross and the eternal assurance of salvation that we have through Him.

thankful tree

thankful tree

I happen to be the part of Ladies Bible study this year.Our Bible teacher Jane,shared with us during one of the study, as she gets up early to cook big turkey for the family,she takes some time to ponder and write all that she has been thankful for that year, while family is still sleeping in the early morning hours and the house is quiet.She has done it for more then two decades.Well,i did not get up early to cook up turkey like Jane did and i had too much in mind on thanksgiving day,so this morning as the activity had settled down,i decided to hand write the blessings and when i counted in the end,i had jotted down 41 blessings so easily.I will keep up with this personal traditions of mine i think :-).Thank you Jane for this jewel of the idea!

We are Thankful

We are Thankful

Next is food. I remember Indian Holidays with assortment of food.Most households have some common dishes.Similarly is thanksgiving.My understanding is when first thanksgiving was celebrated,Turkey was NOT the part of the meal but thats the part of other discussion.Today,Thanksgiving food  is identified with EATING TURKEY along with assortment of common side dishes such as cranberry sauce, corn bread dressing/stuffing, pies of different kind, green beans,corn, sweet potato dish of some sort.

So we will talk TURKEY here :-).When i first came to know about eating this bird on thanksgiving,i didn’t know all too well about in how many ways this bird can be cooked.So i asked my sweet husband,who did grew up with Thanksgiving.He enlightened me by saying that he grew up with roasted turkey however he LOVES the flavor of smoked turkey. Thats when a new word ‘smoking’ was added to my culinary vocabulary 🙂

Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey

For years,smoker has sat on our back porch lonely.More then a decade precisely.I hardly ever paid attention to the big barrel.It was very intimidating to look at.So for past couple of years we have roasted turkey or ordered smoked turkey.We have liked them all.This year was our first thanksgiving in  our new home and i wanted a change and i wanted it memorable in some new,some first time aspects.I don’t wanted to buy cooked turkey and i knew my husband liked the smoked turkey,so i was willing to take a chance to smoke it.So it all began.

My good friend Emily convinced me that the most delicious turkey she has tasted is the turkey her husband smoked.So i poked around for tips from experienced Turkey smokers,her husband and some friends who has smoked.Watched Alton Brown and Neeleys and spent couple more hour browsing you tube videos.I decided that i will do the trial run with small 7 lb turkey.

..So the trial began.I could not have chosen the WORST TIME for my turkey smoking trial.We had cold front coming and rain was in forecast.Little mercury dip may not be a big deal for those who get blizzard and snow regularly but here in Texas we are not used to of cold weather and by cold i mean 50F and below.It was in lower 40s that evening with drizzle.

I had already put turkey for brining and bought charcoal and all that stuff for trial smoking,there was no looking back.The day was full of activities with added doctor’s appointment (from cancellation) and long planned meeting  a sweet friend.I cleaned that big barrel in cold night,hosed,soaped,washed and dried for more then 1 hour and SMOKED.HARD WORK PEOPLE ! This is what i learnt during this trial run.

  • Please do not have your first time ever  trial run a week before thanksgiving,you run a risk of ‘turkeying out’ your family.My husband had warned me against it.
  • Make sure you know the weather forecast,more so if you get cold easily.I looked ridiculous ,covered top to bottom,cleaning with cold water.For the  record,i am ALWAYS cold.
  • Do not fill up your days with activities.Rest during the day,if you are smoking in the night.Waking up at 2 A.M alarm clock to check the fire was not pretty.
  • Know your CHARCOAL.The type and amount you will need.Very important.I ran out of charcoal and my turkey was not cooked.
smoker set up

I was not super confident when the fire died but i wasn’t gonna throw away that half smoked the turkey so i warmed up the oven to 400F and finished cooking until temperature reached 165F. Result was DELICIOUS TURKEY.It had all the smokiness for sitting out in smoker and it was roasted to perfection later on.

So for thanksgiving,i was ready to put use of all that i have learnt from the trial run.This is how

  • I decided i will NOT smoke turkey in the night time,i can NOT pretend to be nocturnal even for a day.So we started in the afternoon before thanksgiving day.
My husband had been pivotal in this whole smoking experience.He helped with brining,14 lb turkey with water and ice needs some muscle :-).He started the fire and kept watch on it,to keep it going.He added apple wood chips in interval.He carefully removed it from smoker to counter top in the night !Ii am THANKFUL for my husband in many special ways,this year,you see my thankfulness list keeps growing !
Starting smoker Fire

Starting smoker Fire

  • We  preferred Charcoal Lumps NOT charcoal briquettes for Thanksgiving smoking. We had used  charcoal briquettes during the  trial run.It took us forever to get the fire going and keep it going.I blame it partly to our inexperience and partly to charcoal. .All in all i wasn’t happy with the process and time it took us personally.Charcoal briquettes(easy start or any kind) may be the good choice for grilling hot dogs and burger,which takes only couple of minutes to cook.Not so much for long couple of hours of smoking.
  • I am happy with charcoal lumps however i am willing to experiment with smoke lumps/hardwood in future.We used 16 lbs of charcoal lumps for around 7-1/2 to 8 hrs.Started with 10 lbs and added more lumps every every 2 hour.
  • Mesquite and Hickory are popular smoking wood choices in this part of Texas.I used Mesquite Charcoal lumps.
  • Wood chip(from fruit)such as apple/cherry adds extra punch to smokiness.I used apple chips soaked in water for 1 hr.
  • Surface thermometer is must ,if your smoker doesn’t have the built-in thermometer and so is the meat thermometer.
  • You will need partially water filled aluminum foil pan underneath the grates.It catches the juices and water keeps the juice from burning up.
  • You must wait until fire stops smoking.It should be glowing red before you put the turkey to smoke.
  • We smoked the turkey night before and kept it covered in aluminum foil.It was still lukewarm until morning.Before the guest arrived.I put it in oven at 400F for an hour and double checked the temperature using meat thermometer.
  • If you think your turkey is not smoked-cooked completely,transfer it to the oven, to finish cooking.It works wonderfully.You get the smoky flavor and you are not worried about uncooked meat,if it is taking too long of a time.I will use this strategy if i have bigger then 15 lb turkey.
  • Smoking may sound long and intimidating process but remember you are NOT doing all the steps at once,there is LONG gap between each step and i may not smoke for everyday small amount of cooking but its worth the effort for big occasion like thanksgiving.
Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey

BRINING is MUST ,no MATTER if you are roasting,smoking,frying,grilling whatever.It seasons the INSIDE of the meat and keeps is moist.I tend to brine  everyday meat (chicken),if i am not in hurry.You will not go back to NOT BRINING ,once you do.I don’t have a picture of this process.Lets just say,i had quite a day and i wasn’t in a mood of taking pictures.

  • You can make your own vegetable stock or buy it and use that in combination with water.I forgot that i bought vegetable stock and used only water.
  • Up to 14 lb is good turkey weight to smoke,i think if its big over 18 lb,i will keep it from smoking perhaps.
And i concur,this is the MOST DELICIOUS, MOST MOIST TURKEY I HAVE EVER COOKED .I looked forward to turkey leftover this year, i hardly cared for  leftover Thanksgiving turkey in past.My husband is right on smoked turkey taste 🙂

Smoked Turkey


  1. 14 lb Turkey
  2. Brine
  3. 1-1/2 cup salt
  4. handful of white and black peppercorn
  5. handful of bay leaves
  6. 3 cups Apple Cider juice
  7. 1/2 cup honey
  8. 2-1/2 gallon water (enough to submerge the turkey)
  9. Big bag to hold turkey with brine
  10. Keeping it cold
  11. Ice chest (28 qt,i used)
  12. 2 bags of ice
  13. Rubbing the Turkey
  14. 3 Tablespoons oil
  15. 1-1/2 Tablespoon Paprika
  16. 1 heaping tablespoon sage
  17. 1 heaping tablespoon thyme
  18. 2 tablespoon salt
  19. Smoking
  20. Smoker
  21. 16 - 20 lb Mesquite Charcoal lumps
  22. Charcoal Fluid
  23. Lighter
  24. 6 small Pouches of apple chips soaked in water
  25. tin foil to catch the juice
  26. surface thermometer / smoker thermometer
  27. meat thermometer
  28. PATIENCE 🙂


  1. Mix all the brine ingredients in a big pot.Dissolve the salt.
  2. Make sure water is at room temperature.
  3. Add turkey(giblet and neck removed) in a big bag and pour the brine liquid.
  4. Set the bag in a ice chest.
  5. Cover it with ice.
  6. Let it sit in a coldest place of your house.We put ours in a back porch.
  7. In the morning,we added more ice.
  8. Let it brine for 16-24 hrs.
  9. Take the turkey out and pat it dry.
  10. Lather the turkey with rubbing spice mix.
  11. Smoking
  12. Start the fire using charcoal lumps,fluid.
  13. Let the fire and smoke settle down.Wait until you get consistent fire going.
  14. Throw in two of pouch of apple chips.
  15. Put the aluminium foil pan filled with some water under the grates.So the juices doesn't burn.
  16. Put the surface thermometer on grates and wait until it reaches the temperature of 220-225F.
  17. Set the turkey out on grates.
  18. Cover the smoker lid.
  19. Check the fire every two hours,add apple chips and see if you need more charcoal lumps,little by little.
  20. Do not open the smoker lid frequently,it brings the temperature down.
  21. It takes 30-40 mins per pound at temp of 220-225F.
  22. After 7 hrs,insert the meat thermometer in thickest part.
  23. It should read 165F.
  24. Check it couple of places,without letting it touch the bone.
  25. Let it sit for 30 mins.
  26. Carve and Enjoy.

1 Comment

  1. Wonderful post. I was very much looking forward to read it. The family tradition which you have started is a great tradition.

    I am sure the experience must be great, i am looking forward to eat it someday ;-).

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