Robert Simon’s Smoked Turkey Breast

Direct from the kitchen of chef Robert Simon, aka Chef of the Future Brand Seasonings

Smoked Turkey Breast

  • Difficulty: Involved
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img_4235-2Smoked Turkey Breast 

  • One Turkey Breast (skin on)
  • Chef of the Future Brand Seasonings for Rub and Injectable marinade (details below)
  • Orange Ginger Pepper
  • Honey Garlic Bourbon
  • Smoking Wood (your choice, many prefer fruit woods for poultry, however, if done lightly, Hardwoods can be used with excellent results.

For this recipe, I used an 80/20 blend of Hickory and Mesquite.

To make the Injectable Marinade:

  1. Bring 1 cup of water to a simmer. Add the Orange Ginger Pepper and Honey Garlic Bourbon  seasonings. Stir and let simmer gently for an additional 3 – 5 minutes. Strain out the solids with a fine sieve or a metal mesh coffee filter.
  2. Place the marinade in a double boiler to reheat and add the butter.  Stir until melted. In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tablespoons of water and ½ Tablespoon of cornstarch.  Add the mixture to the warm marinade, while stirring.  This will act as a binder to keep the oil from separating from the water.

img_4226-2Preparing the Turkey 

Rinse the breast in cold water, loosen the skin but do not remove.

Use an injector for the marinade, making as few holes as possible. To do this make a hole and as you draw the needle back while injecting, reposition the needle to inject into another area.  You don’t want to have a big pocket of the marinade, but rather reach as many areas you can from one insertion point.  When removing the needle, place a finger over the hole and put slight pressure and massage the area.  This will help to keep the marinade where it was placed without leaking.

Move on to the next area and try to marinade evenly.

img_4225-2Using the Orange Ginger Pepper, evenly coat  all exposed areas and then reposition the skin.  A light coating with a cooking spray will help to adhere the rub as well as keeping it from sticking to the smoker grates.

Let the breast chill in the refrigerator overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours.

Smoking the Turkey Breast 

There are a lot of different schools of thought when it comes to smoking proteins.

Some prefer to use time and temperature (of the smoker) as in the 3-2-1 method: you smoke as normal for 3 hours, followed by 2 hours cooking wrapped in foil, and finally 1 additional hour, unwrapped.

This method, while convenient has plenty of faults.  First, smoker temps all vary and even more-so when using the smoker’s built in thermometer to determine temperature.

I have found that not only are these thermometers in the wrong position to determine the ambient temperature “where the protein is situated” but they can also be calibrated poorly.  They can be off as much as 50-75 degrees which can make or break your smoking attempts.

This size of your protein is also a huge variable.  Thick or thin cuts cook thoroughly at different times when using a set temperature.

I have found through trial and error the best way to determine ambient temperature is to use an ambient temperature probe placed directly under the cooking protein. Accuracy counts!

img_4229-2This process does take time ~ don’t Rush It.  Your breast will be cooked when it reaches the correct temperature and not always according to the clock. Another temperature probe placed into the thickest section of the protein will reveal the truth.

For Turkey, the perfect internal temperature is 165°. The time will vary depending on the weight and thickness of the breast.

You can safely remove the breast from the smoker at around 160° to 163° and wrap it in foil and a couple of towels.  The exterior of the breast will be hotter, so the internal temp will reach the 165°

With Poultry, there is no connective tissue that needs to break down, so if you leave it in the smoker after it reaches temperature it will cause the breast to dry out.

Water Pans…What is the purpose? 

A water pan serves multiple purposes.  The obvious one is that they help to maintain a certain degree of moisture within the smoker. They also add thermal mass to help maintain a constant ambient temperature.

When a protein ( meat ) is  placed in a smoker, it needs to come up to the desired temperature to be finished.  The colder this protein is at the beginning, the longer the process will take. Thermodynamics dictates that heat always travels towards cold.

If you place a gallon of cold water in a smoker, that the heat will eventually bring the ambient temperature of that water to the same temperature of the smoker.

In essence, when you add cold water, and add cold protein, it will take that much more heat to regulate the smoker temperature, until it equalizes and the temperature can fluctuate, so always begin with boiling water in your water pan.

img_4230-2Smoke, how much is really needed? 

Typically, hard woods are for red meats, fruit woods are for poultry, right?  Well, not really.  While hardwoods like Hickory and especially Mesquite produce a stronger smoke flavor, it all depends on how much is used.

Poultry and seafood will absorb smoke deeper than red meats and most protein will not take on any more smoke flavor past 4 hours.

I find that a handful of smoking wood an hour gives a nice smoke flavor to just about everything, without being over powering. For the Turkey breast, which takes less time only 2 handfuls are really needed.

Soaking your smoking wood is not necessary. It does nothing to help produce, prolong or maintain smoke.Thin Blue smoke is perfect, also fresh smoke flowing past the protein will yield the best flavor, so keep your vents open. Attempting to hold the smoke in the smoker will end up with a bitter flavor on your protein (creosote buildup)



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