Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Smoked Turkey, Pickled Turkey, "Personal Turkey"

Smoked Turkey Breast

After making Stuffed Turkey Leg for "Pre-Thanksgiving" , we had leftover turkey bits to deal with. We smoked half of the turkey breast along with the wings. The smoked breast came out very nicely, and we're saving the smoked wings for making stock.

Turkey breast and wings on the smoker

The other half of the breast we brined longer (3 days) and stronger. After being coated with black peppercorn, juniper berries and coriander seeds, it too was smoked and we had ourselves some turkey pastrami.

Turkey pastrami just out of the smoker

Here it is sliced up:

Sliced Turkey Pastrami

Along with some Gruyere cheese, it made for a great panini lunch the other day.

So, what about Thanksgiving itself? We had personal "turkeys":

Personal Turkey

Roasted Cornish game hens with balsamic vinegar and fresh sage. Alongside, we had a three-grain pilaf with almonds and shitake mushrooms (from The Union Square Cafe Cookbook) and romaine stuffed with root vegetables braised in red wine (from the Café Boulud Cookbook).


  1. Mike, I've heard this called turkey pastrami...all delish.

  2. Yep - Turkey Pastrami indeed. We need to make some regular beef pastrami as well, but I want to do a regular brisket first...

  3. So, the smoker it's still on the front page, just to hunt me with that smoked turkey breast and the pastrami..... It looks amazing, and i am sure it tasted wonderful.
    Mike, i have a quick question, if you guys don't mind. I was thinking to make bacon, kind of like the Swedish one. The romanian recipe calls to brine the pork belly for 2-3 weeks in a salty brine, with crushed garlic, some dry thyme and whole peppercorns. Then drain and smoke. That's the part that i can not execute properly because i am still lacking the smoker or the place to put/use one. But i was thinking: if i put some wood chips on a foil tray on the first 1/2 of my grill, on very low heat, and the pork belly on the higher rack in the opposite corner, do you think it will work? I thought maybe the smoke will circulate and do its job, somehow, and the heat would be actually really low. I'll appreciate any advise, i kind of need to go buy it to make it in time for Christmas. This is the time when Romanians sacrifice a pig (tradition is on the 24th of December) and make all the porky stuff.

  4. Hi Roxana,

    Yeah, the smoker is still in the spotlight at our house. :-) Wow, your romanian recipe sounds fun. I'm not familiar with Swedish or Romanian style bacons. It's quite a long time in the brine - is it a fairly salty bacon style?

    The technique you've described for smoking should work for you. Meat doesn't end up quite as intensely smokey since it's not as air-tight, but we've grill-smoked pork butts with pretty good success (before we purchased the dedicated smoker).

    It's a bit tricky to keep the smoke going on the grill when the heat is low, but you should be able to do it. A couple of tips: 1) use very small wood chips and try to put the container (heavy foil or metal box) right on the flame. They will burn quickly though, so keep replenishing when the smoke dies down. 2) After brining, pat the belly dry and let it sit uncovered in the fridge overnight prior to smoking (If possible, place it on a rack set over a tray). A dry surface apparently absorbs the smoke better.

    We love pork and smokey cured meats - your Christmas tradition sounds like my kind of holiday event! Good luck with your bacon. :-)


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