Step 3 - Smoke the bird. I decided to do a heat combination for smoking the bird - first some higher heat, followed by the traditional low and slow. Here is my process:
- Prepare the smoker with apple pellets. I find anything heavier can overwhelm poultry and make it taste more like ham than turkey. Then heat the smoker on high to 400F.
- Place the whole bird, breast side up, on the smoker. Let smoke on high for 45 minutes.
- Becaues we all know that poultry can easily dry out while smoking, employ extra resources in the form of a cheesecloth. Prepare a four-layer piece of cheesecloth, large enough to cover the breasts of the bird, by soaking it in 1/2 cup melted butter.
- After 45 minutes on high heat, cover the bird with the cheesecloth then turn to low or 250F (see picture below - it's not pretty, but it is efficient). Finish the bird on this temperature. 3-4 hours.
- About an hour before the bird is ready remove the cheese cloth so that the top can brown. The meat will be cooked, it just won't be the lovely brown. If needed, turn the heat up higher, or even do a quick hit under the oven broiler - no one like an un-golden bird.
- The turkey is ready when an thermometer stuck in the thickest part of thigh between the leg and body registers 170F.