Maple Wood Smoked Turkey with a Sweet and Savoury Dry Rub

For the past year or so I’ve really wanted a smoker but it’s only recently that we’ve had the space for one. After buying a few turkeys for our freezer during a post-Thanksgiving sale, and now finally having the space, we figured that now is as good a time as any to finally buy one and use it to cook these bad mamma jammas.

The smoker we bought is just your basic, entry-level propane smoker from Lowes. Wood chips of your choice go in one of the bottom compartments and water in the other with lots of racks for smoking several things at once. We paid around $180 for it knowing that our experience may go one of two ways: Either the novelty would wear off quickly or we would absolutely love it and want to SMOKE ALL THE THINGS. So far so good on the loving it part. This may mean an upgrade to something fancier and larger at some point down the road. But for now, we’re loving this one and really enjoying experimenting with various meats, sauces and rubs!

Maple Smoked Turkey and Rub recipe - A Soulful Appetite

For it’s inaugural run we decided to invite some friends over and smoke two of our turkeys. These birds were fairly small – around 9-ish pounds each if I recall – but perfect for 4 adults and two kids with leftovers. They were also the perfect size in that they didn’t take forever to smoke. About 6 hours total with the heat hovering at around 250 degrees fahrenheit. Here’s how we did it in our incredibly amateur smoking experience. I apologize for the lack of photos – especially in the initial stages! With company coming, I didn’t think to take photos until we were ready to smoke! If we decide to do this again soon, and if I remember, I will try to take a few more and add them to this post.

Maple Wood Smoked Turkey

You will need:

– A fresh or thawed Turkey (one, or however many you plan to smoke)

– Mustard. A few tablespoons worth.

– Olive oil. For coating your cooking pan.

– Rub of your choice. (See below for my recipe)

– Water. For inside the smoker. Refer to your smoker’s manual for quantity.

– Wood Chips. We used a sweet maple wood variety. Refer to your smoker’s manual for quantity.

Step One: Preparing the turkey.

Rinse your turkey and remove the neck etc. and place into a well oiled disposable aluminum baking pan. You may choose to stuff your turkey at this point. I have not personally tried smoking turkey with actual bread stuffing so I’m not sure how that might work out. Instead we chose to stuff ours with chunks of MacInosh apples and sweet onion. This turned out to be an excellent idea that not only added some subtle flavour but really helped to keep things moist throughout the long, slow cooking process. You may also choose to tie up your turkey with kitchen twine at this point, just to keep the limbs together and everything securely inside. Once in the pan and stuffed, give your turkey a generous rub down with ordinary yellow mustard, followed by a generous sprinkle of the rub of your choice (keep reading for my rub recipe!). Mustard not only adds flavour but also acts as a glue for keeping your rub on.

Step Two: Smoking your turkey.

If you have completed all of the above, you are ready to put your turkey into the smoker! It’s really a pretty simply process from here on out. Simply adjust your racks to accommodate the size of the bird, place it in and close the door. Be sure you’ve added the recommended amount of wood chips and water as per your smoker’s instructions. Then fire it up!

Once things have heated up, simply let it smoke. For us, low and slow was the goal and since this smoker isn’t insulated, we really didn’t have much choice in that regard. It didn’t take long, however, for the temperature to start hovering around 250 degrees fahrenheit and as long as we kept feeding it chips and water, it remained fairly steady.

Maple Smoked Turkey Recipe

At around the half way point our curiosity got the better of us so we opened it up to have a look and OMG LOOK AT THIS JUICY DELICIOUSNESS! At this point we also decided to start monitoring the temperature using a meat thermometer to see where we were at.

Maple Smoked Turkey :: A Soulful Appetite

 

By about the six hour point, our turkeys were done! Trust me when I say that these were gobbled up in no time flat. Both our family and our dinner guests agree that it was the most delicious, flavourful turkey any of us have ever had. The skin was perfectly crispy on the outside and the inside was incredibly juicy, tender with the most amazing smoky flavour. Absolute perfection. After trying this I can safely say that this is how we’ll be cooking turkey from now on. No more oven-cooked birds on Thanksgiving for us!

Maple Smoked Turkey with a Sweet and Savoury Rub :: A Soulful Appetite

Tip: Do not…I repeat, DO NOT, throw away your smoked turkey carcass when you are finished. This stuff makes the most incredible smoky broth you have ever had IN YOUR LIFE. Boil it up and freeze it in small quantities to drink when you are feeling under the weather or make a soup with it. That’s what we did. Add in a few spices, your choice of veggies, left over turkey meat and a couple of handfuls of quinoa and you will have a life-changing turkey soup. Trust me on this.

 

Sweet and Savoury Rub

This is my basic rub recipe. I have used this rub on pork ribs, chicken and turkey with excellent results. You may wish to double or triple this recipe and store it in an air-tight container as it’s a nice, basic rub to have on hand. Feel free to also adjust the spice quantities to your taste!

– 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

– 1/4 cup garlic salt or finely gound sea salt

– 3 tbsp smoked paprika

– 1 tbsp onion powder

– 1 tsp ground black pepper

– 1 tsp cumin

– 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

– Any dried herbs you wish (ie. rosemary, thyme)

Mix all ingredients well and enjoy on your favourite barbecued or smoked pork or poultry!

Sweet and Savoury Rub recipe :: A Soulful Appetite

The Studio (so far)!

Once upon a time, this photographer had to use her living room coffee table as her ‘studio’ for food photography. Yes, 2 feet away from the glow of my kids watching TV. And yes, I often shot with one hand on the camera and the other hand swatting away two hungry pugs. But at the time it was all I had. Our little townhouse was not ideal in many ways. But we made due.

I always dreamed of having a space I could use solely for food photography but assumed it was never in the cards. Truthfully, the whole idea was very indulgent. I even felt selfish wishing for it. Ottawa is an expensive city to live in. I knew we would eventually ‘move on up’ but figured we’d only ever be able to afford to buy something comfortable. Never a place with EXTRA space. But here it is. My formal-living-room-turned-studio. I have a big beautiful window that lets in all kinds of glorious natural light. Gleaming hard wood floors, enough wall space for my growing prop collection and eventually a funky sofa or something. It’s a work in progress decor wise, but it’s mine.

The amount of gratitude I feel to call this place home is immeasurable. This studio was just icing on the cake in an otherwise fantastic situation. 

Food Photography Studio

How to Make Kombucha – Part Two

Part Two: 2nd Fermentation, Bottling and Flavouring.

Missed How to Make Kombucha – Part One? Click here!

If you are following along from Part One of my series on How to Make Kombucha, you may now be at the stage where you are ready to bottle yours. This is the fun part because you get to choose how you want to flavour your Kombucha! This step is often called the 2nf Fermentation because once you bottle your Kombucha with the various fruits, it begins to ferment again and creates even more carbonation. It will blend with the delicious fruits and takes on the flavour of whatever you add!

How to make Kombucha - Part Two - A Soulful Appetite

What you’ll need for this stage:

Flip top bottles that seal. The number you need will depend on the size. I’ve used the KORKEN bottle made by IKEA with good results and if my memory is correct, I can fill 2-3 of these bottles with one gallon of brew after accounting for the starter tea you need to leave in for your next batch (read below). If you don’t live near an IKEA, you could very easily just save and re-use other similar bottles from Grolsch beer etc. and they will work as long as they have a tight seal the way these do.

- A plastic funnel and ladle.

- A clean glass bowl. This will be to place your SCOBYs in while bottling.

- Pure white vinegar. For rinsing your hands, rinsing the bottles and keeping your work area clean.

- You choice of fruits, juices and spices for flavouring.

How to Make Kombucha - A Soulful Appetite

Once you have all of the supplies above, you are ready to bottle!

Step one: Wash your hands well and then rinse your hands, your glass bowl, all bottles and work area well with white vinegar and lift your SCOBYs out of the Kombucha. Place the SCOBYs in your glass bowl and add a little bit of Kombucha to cover them. This just gives them somewhere to hang out while you are bottling. 

Step Two: Choose your flavours. In mine I like to use cut up bits of apple, ginger and cherries. I’ve also experimented with adding different fruits in with 100% pure fruit juices like lemon and concord grape. Chai spices, pumpkin pie spices and cinnamon sticks add nice flavours as well. There’s no right or wrong amount to use. For fruit I usually just add enough to cover the bottom of the bottle. For spices, a couple of pinches will do the trick.

How to Make Kombucha - A Soulful Appetite

Step Three: Put funnel on top of one of your jars and use your ladle to pour Kombucha into each bottle until it’s full, leaving only a half an inch on the top. Seal your bottle and set aside in an area where the bottles can remain undisturbed. It’s important to note that since these are sealed and they are becoming more carbonated, there is a small chance that one could end up breaking or exploding. For this reason, I place mine in a basement sink with a box and towel on top. I’ve yet to have one explode, but just in case!

How to Make Kombucha - A Soulful Appetite

Step Four: Leave bottles to sit in their undisturbed area for 24-48 hours. After that point, move them to the refrigerator. Chilling them slows down the carbonation (and I personally prefer a nice chilled glass of Booch!)

And that’s it! You’ve successfully made your own Kombucha! It wasn’t that hard, was it? Now you can just enjoy chilled, any time of the day, for pennies a glass! 

A couple of random but important things about brewing Kombucha:

– If you plan to make another batch of Kombucha right after bottling, you’ll need to be sure to reserve 2-3 cups of your freshly brewed as a starter for the next batch. I personally leave at least 2 inches of Kombucha in the bottom of each of my big 2 gallon jars to help start off the new batch.

– Because each new batch of Kombucha produces a new SCOBY, you’ll soon find yourself overrun with them if you brew regularly. At this point, you may decide to share them with friends, compost your extras OR, do as I do and start a SCOBY hotel. To create a SCOBY hotel, simply take a clean, large jar, fill it with Kombucha and place your extra SCOBYs in there, cover with fabric and and elastic band and store it in a dark, undisturbed spot in your home. These will live happily in this hotel for approximately 4-6 weeks. At that time, if you still have not used them, simply take them out dump about 50% of the liquid out and replace it with fresh sweetened tea. I strongly recommend that you do this if you intend to make Kombucha regularly or if you decide you’d like to take a break for a few weeks. It’s rare, but SCOBYs can get mouldy from time to time. If this happens, you need to discard the batch and the SCOBY. At that point, having backup SCOBYs is helpful. It’s also nice to have a few waiting in the wings in case you have a friend who’d like to try their own or in case you’d like to brew more.

SCOBY hotel - How to make kombucha with A Soulful Appetite

A little disclaimer: I am not, by any means, an expert on this subject! I, too, am still very much learning by trial and error. Feel free to ask any questions or make any friendly suggestions you wish in the comments section! As I experiment more with different flavours and techniques I hope to post about them so please check back regularly!

Looking for ‘How to Make Kombucha – Part One?’ Click here!