Sausage and Herb Stuffed Smoked Turkey
The Thanksgiving Turkey should be a show-stopper, and I have a guaranteed masterpiece that your family will praise you for preparing. Of course, this turkey is smoked (you won’t eat an oven roasted or deep-fried bird after this) but I also take country sausage, fresh herbs, sautéed vegetables, fresh herbs, bread, and tart apples all combined into a stuffing that cooks inside the bird. The stuffing is every bit as good as the turkey and you’ll probably want to make a big pan of it on the side because it’ll go fast.
First you need a turkey. I bought a 15lb frozen turkey from the grocery store. It needs several days to thaw so stick it in the refrigerator and leave it alone for at least 3 days. You can use a fresh bird if you want to pay for it, but I find the frozen are easier on the wallet and cook just as good.
Once it’s thawed remove the giblets and neck and rinse the cavity. Drop it down in an oversized ziplock storage bag. To give the turkey some flavor I like to brine it for 24 hours. You can use any brine recipe you want; but I kept it simple: One cup of Kosmo’s Turkey Brine to one gallon of water.
Pour the turkey brine over the bird and add the water. Squeeze the air out of the bag and close the top. Make sure the turkey is submerged by weighting it down with a large pot if necessary. I have a big storage tote that fits perfect in my refrigerator so the bag sits in it then the whole things goes on the shelf in the fridge for a 24 hour rest. The next day take the turkey out of the brine and let it air dry on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Use paper towel to blot off the excess moisture.
Now let’s talk stuffing. And yes this is stuffing not dressing like we serve in the south. It’s made with breadcrumbs instead of corn bread; that’s the main difference. For this recipe I bought Pepperidge Farms white bread cubes. You can use any kind of white bread cut or tore into bite size pieces, but the packaged bread cubes work just fine for me. You’ll also need 1lb of country breakfast sausage, onion, celery, garlic, a granny smith apple, chicken broth, an egg, 2 teaspoons Killer Hogs AP Seasoning and some fresh herbs: rosemary, sage, & thyme.
Brown the sausage in a large pan and drain. Keep 1 Tablespoon of grease in the pan and add the celery, onion, and apple. Sauté for a few minutes to soften and add the garlic. Cook for a few more minutes and pour into a bowl. Place the bread cubes into a large bowl and add the other ingredients. Stir to combine and hold to the side for the stuffing.
To season the turkey, spray the outside with vegetable cooking spray and season with a good dose of Killer Hogs AP Seasoning http://bit.ly/TheAPRub (salt, pepper, garlic) followed by a light coat of Swine Life Mississippi Grind for color and savoriness. Fill the cavity with the stuffing and tie the legs together with butcher twine to hold everything inside.
To cook the turkey I used my Traeger Pellet Grill set to 300 degrees running on a combo of Hickory, Maple, & Cherry pellets for smoke flavor. You can use any pit or wood just stick to the 300 degree cooking temp.
Place the turkey on the pit and cook until an internal temperature reaches 165 in the thickest part of the breast AND in the stuffing. I highly recommend a wired probe thermometer for this job. The Thermoworks DOT makes easy work out of watching those temp while you cook.
Once the turkey – and the stuffing inside the cavity – hits 165 it’s done. Pull it out of the smoker and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.
To really impress everyone this Thanksgiving, carve this bird right on the table and serve it up with a big heaping spoon of the stuffing. You won’t need any gravy over the top because it’s packed with moisture and flavor.