I pick up a turkey about twenty pounds in weight before a large family gathering. Make certain it is a less expensive turkey without injections of butter such as in Butterball Turkeys.
Set it out to thaw the day before smoking. It does not need any kind of basting in either natural or store bought liquids.
Soak your hickory in water all night before smoking as you want it to turn to smoke rather than to fire.
On the morning of the smoke take out the neck and other material from the turkey. I toss the heart back into the turkey body as a treat for my two dogs when the smoking has ended (I have two dogs so I cut it into two pieces - naturally).
Start you charcoal fire and let it get the coals good and white. Fill the water tank, put on the turkey, and throw in some wood. About every three hours over the next twelve check your charcoals, water level, and toss in some more wood to keep the smoking going on over the twelve hour cook.
At the end of twelve hours you should have a really brown on the outside turkey with legs that are easy to move (this is a critical way to tell the turkey is done). It will be moist throughout the body. Cut into many thin slices then serve to the guests. If the twelve hour cycle cannot be made to coincide with the start of the mean then wrap the cooked turkey in Saran Wrap and let it stay in the refrigerator until the time of the meal. Do not slice the turkey before putting into the refrigerator as this tends to let the meat lose moistness and that defeats the objective of smoking.
I got a smokering a few years ago for christmas and I use it alot. I havent had a chance to use it as much as I would like this year but I think I will be firing it up this weekend. I've done ribs, pork & beef (my favorite), pork butts for pulling, chickens, briskets, corned beef.
There are many stories out there about smoked meats lasting for a month.
However, I am not a follower of this belief. Our family consumes smoked meats generally by the day after smoking although some scraps of turkey for sandwiches may stay in the freezer for five days at the most.
Personally, I do not want to run the risk of bad meat for either myself or the family.
However, this is a forum and I respect the opposing opinions of other members.
I would add to nathans process, the step of "brining" your meats to get a deeper, more even smoke. A simple brine of a handful of salt, and a handful of brown sugar, some garlic powder. Place meats in a clean container and cover with water. Brine for 4-12 hours.
__________________ I keep tellin ya Doc, I'm in pretty good shape considerin the shape I'm in !!
Right now it's raining like a....well you all know..and I have a fresh elk tenderloin on the grill with mesquite chips. Marinated in Stubbs beef marinade, and olive oil. And listening to the half inside yelling at the bird dog. Pretty sweet.
I smoke Turkeys, Briskets, Pork butts and Hams. But normaly I start mine in the evening on my water smocker which is like the one LTS pictured.
Before going to bed I add more charcoal, Hickory and Water.
When I get up the next morning it's ready.
When I smoke a Turkey all I put on it is some salt & pepper and some garlic.
I also put a stick of butter in the water and seasonings, I really can't tell it does anything, but thats what I do to the water.
The other meats get there own seasonings but the Hams I put a goodly amount of black pepper and butter on them and thats all.