Food, Wine & Just Good Living With SaucyJoe

It started with a love of food, wine & fun and blossomed into a maddening pursuit of the best recipes, techniques, grills, smokers, wines, crafted beers, rubs, marinades and sauces... We do more than play with our meat though -- we review and discuss all things cooking, drinking, reading, laughing and living at SaucyJoe's.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Admiral Bird

The Admiral Bird

Up until this week, February has been a frigid month here in Eastern Iowa. The average high temperature has been 6 degrees F and average low temperature 5 below zero! While this is not the ideal weather for a barbecue, it’s hard to resist the lure of the smoker. So, I have had many opportunities for arctic smoking. A couple weekends ago, following up on a pun from brother Ski Sullivan, I decided it was time to smoke the Admiral Bird.

I decided to combine recipes from two Steven Raichlen books, BBQ USA and Beer Can Chicken to smoke a 12 pound turkey and serve with Maple Redeye Gravy. I brined the turkey overnight using a Maple Brine Sauce, rubbed the turkey with a rub made from Kosher salt, ground black pepper, sweet paprika, sage, oregano and thyme. Since I had the Thyme, I got the beer. In honor of arctic smoking the Admiral Bird, I used a 32 oz can of Labatt’s Blue for the pedestal. It was 7 degrees below zero when I started the smoker at 9 AM, and climbed up to a whopping 2 above when I pulled out the done bird at 4 PM. I burned a lot of wood chips and 1 ½ gas cylinders keeping things cooking.

The bad thing is, I didn’t get any of the bird! I carried it out to a birthday party at Anamosa Slum Lord, Brother-In-Law, Adam Ardolino’s house, and I had to go make an appearance at the First Annual Collins Printed Circuits Dinner and Ball. I had a pretty nice meal and a beer, then I rushed back to Anamosa. By the time I got back, the turkey was bones. I was assured that it was fabulous. Trust me, it’s not the same as tasting for yourself. Anyway, the Admirable Bird was an arctic success. The recipe follows:

Brining Ingredients:

1 turkey (12 pounds, or so) thawed, if frozen
1 ¼ cups Kosher Salt
1 quart hot water
4 quarts cold water
1 cup real maple syrup
1 medium sized onion, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
10 black peppercorns
5 bay leaves
4 strips of lemon zest
2 whole cloves

Dissolve the Kosher Salt into the hot water in a large stock pot. Pour in the cold water, and then add the rest of the brine ingredients. Slide the turkey in and cover the pot. It helps to have something to weigh down the bird so it stays submerged. A water filled plastic freezer bag works nicely.

Keep in a cool place overnight (12-16 hours).

The Rub:

4 TBSP Kosher Salt
4 TBSP Sweet Paprika
2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp Ground Sage
2 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Dried Thyme

Mix the ingredients in a shallow bowl, cover and keep until ready to rub the bird.

The Preparation:

· Remove the bird from the brine and discard the brine.
· Pat the bird dry inside and out.
· Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the rub into the body cavity of the turkey, and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the rub into the neck cavity of the turkey.
· Melt 1 stick of salted butter in a sauce pan.
· Discard half of the can of Labatt’s Blue (I’m sure you can figure out a good way to do this.). Steven says to pour it over the wood chips. Dr. Dave, I can assure you, did not do this.
· Using a can opener (church key type) make two additional holes in the top of the beer can.
· Spoon 1 tablespoon of the rub into the beer can. Don’t worry if the mixture foams up. This is normal.
· Holding the turkey upright with the body cavity at the bottom lower it onto the beer can so the can fits into the cavity.
· Brush the melted butter over outside of the turkey.
· Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the rub over the outside of the turkey.
· Stir 2 tablespoons of the rub into the melted butter and set aside.
· Poor the remainder of the rub into the neck cavity of the turkey.

Here’s the Admiral Bird standing tall, ready to enter the smoker:

Preparing the Smoker:

· Since it was such a cold time, I disconnected the propane tank the night before cooking and moved it into a warmer area so the gas wouldn’t liquefy. I re-connected it just before smokin’ time.
· Soak 6 cups of wood chips, preferably apple in water for 1 hour.
· Place the chips in a smoke box or aluminum foil pouch.
· Add water to the water dish.
· Place a clean aluminum foil pan in the smoker to catch the turkey drippings. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, as you will see later.
· Fire up the smoker, and heat to 210 degrees F.
· Stand the turkey on a lower shelf in the smoker or on the grill away from the heat. Place it over the drip pan.
· Smoke for 6 to 7 hours, basting the bird with the melted butter / rub mixture every 30 minutes.

The Smoker is Smokin’ below:

Maple Redeye Gravy


About 2 cups of turkey drippings (See, I told you it was important!)
1 to 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
4 TBSP salted butter (1/2 stick)
¼ cup flour
¼ cup Madeira
¼ cup coffee
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
2 TBSP maple syrup
Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper to taste

· Strain the turkey drippings into a measuring cup
· Add enough chicken or turkey stock to make a total of 3 cups
· Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat.
· Stir in the flour and heat until its golden brown. (3 to 5 minutes)
· Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the Madeira (Have Some Madeira, My Dear – Red Skelton, early 1960’s), coffee, maple syrup and the turkey drippings with stock.
· Return the pan to the stove and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking steadily.
· Reduce the heat to medium and let stand until it is reduced to about 3 cups volume (6 to 10 minutes).
· Season with Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper to taste.

Bringing in the Admiral Bird:

Here’s the Admiral Bird in the smoker ready to go inside:

· Using a heavy duty set of oven mitts, lift the bird from the smoker.
· Have a buddy (my son Brandon fit the bill) grab hold of the can using a large set of tongs. Hold the can still.
· Gently lift the turkey from the can.
· Carefully set the can aside to cool. The liquid inside is very hot!
· Let the turkey set for 15 minutes.
· It’s ready to carve! Steal a piece for yourself before it’s all gone! 'cause...

You deserve some Admiral Bird!