Thanksgiving 2012 – 21lb. applewood-smoked bacon-wrapped turkey with orange juice brine and white wine steam in the Pit Barrel Cooker

I think the title says it all. For Thanksgiving this year, I made a 21 lb. apple-wood-smoked bacon-wrapped turkey with orange juice brine and white wine steam in my Pit Barrel Cooker. Brined about 3 hours, smoked about 10 hours overnight…you can imagine how good this turkey is!

EDIT 112412: One problem, though, this is only the 3rd or 4th time I’ve used the Pit Barrel Cooker, and the powder coating is flaking off even more, with a surface rust pattern visible right there that never should have left the factory. It’s kind of frustrating, because the cooker has never been rained or snowed on under a covered porch, and I’ve owned it less than 4 or 5 months. Otherwise, it’s a great product, but I guess the quality control is not what it should be. I have just experienced, hands-down, the best customer service from any company I have ever worked with. Noah from Pit Barrel Cooker just called me out of the blue, and mentioned that he had seen this original post. Talk about making things right! We had a great conversation about bbq and smoking, and I felt like anyone could absorb some competition level techniques just by being around his enthusiasm and experience. And talk about old-school pride in your craftsmanship…I had never even considered contacting the company about the powdercoat flaking, because I was not a direct customer and had taken the PBC off the hands of a newlywed couple who had received it as a wedding gift, but just can’t fit hours of barbecuing into their busy lives with little ones running around. I had considered a bit of grinding and some ugly high-temp paint and calling it good, but Noah is planning a supply run to Denver this week, recognized my unease at not being a direct customer, and will be swapping out this unit for a demo barrel! He explained that a batch slipped through the powdercoating subcontractor with the wrong prep, and that he wants to make things right for me. What a company!

(FURTHER EDIT 112412: Alright, alright, Noah, you’ve convinced me. I’m going to give charcoal another try, especially for the smaller-than-21 lb. cooks! If you think I can use charcoal and a similar sized bird on a 6 or 7 hour cook, intrigued is an understatement). But for this turkey, I customized a few things that really worked great! I stuffed the hanging-rod holes with steel wool to keep so much of the smoke from escaping if I am not using the rods and hooks for such a big turkey. Two big applewood chunks made for 3 or 4 hours of great smoke. I’ve got lava rock in the bottom to soak up the grease, and my electric element from my old Brinkmann water smoker fits right on top of the lava rock with the cord through the access door, and it makes for such a nice slow, cool smoke at about 225 degrees. Since I’m missing the big water pan from the old Brinkmann, I hang a small coffee can from the grill a few inches above the element, and it works perfect to steam things. I know people swear by charcoal, but I am so glad to have gone electric with instant-on prep, constant temps, and so much less cleanup. I took the turkey straight from the brine bucket in the fridge at 3AM, patted it dry and layered on the bacon, plugged in the smoker and threw on the wood and turkey, and was back in bed by 320AM! You can’t do that with charcoal.

Final note, this was one of my best turkeys ever. I am not a white meat fan, because I really notice that sourness and dryness in any bird, when all that tasty dark meat is just right there, but this was the juiciest, tastiest breast meat I have ever had. I never take white meat home for leftover turkey sandwiches, but I did this time. And I think thick cut bacon with a bit of extra sea salt on top would be the key to keeping a fantastic texture to that bacon wrap.

I can’t wait for Christmas for my next bird!

What can I shoot for you?

Thanksgiving 2012- 21 lb applewood-smoked bacon-wrapped turkey with orange juice brine and white wine steam in the Pit Barrel Cooker Copyright 2012 Jason Claypool

Thanksgiving 2012- 21 lb applewood-smoked bacon-wrapped turkey with orange juice brine and white wine steam in the Pit Barrel Cooker Copyright 2012 Jason Claypool

Thanksgiving 2012- 21 lb applewood-smoked bacon-wrapped turkey with orange juice brine and white wine steam in the Pit Barrel Cooker Copyright 2012 Jason Claypool

Thanksgiving 2012- 21 lb applewood-smoked bacon-wrapped turkey with orange juice brine and white wine steam in the Pit Barrel Cooker Copyright 2012 Jason Claypool

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