Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thrifty Thanksgiving...and Not So Much

About a month ago, I found this smoker at the local thrift store.  Brand new.  Never used. $14.  We had been talking about smoking cheese, and I thought we might be able to figure something out; cheese smoking is a cold, indirect process, obviously, and this little beauty is essentially a charcoal grill with a basin inside and a cover to hold the smoke.  In other words, it's HOT.  Not cold.  So it sat unused on the back porch.  Until today.

Now, we hadn't planned to have a traditional Thanksgiving.  My daughter moved farther away, and my mother doesn't care much about the holiday (she's German; it isn't HER holiday.  Besides, she never cooked the meal.  It just isn't her thing).  The only person who was nearby and who wanted a communal meal was our friend El.  And she doesn't like turkey, so we decided upon paella.  More about that later.

Here's the clincher: our new neighbors gave us their extra turkey.  It's a small one, about 12 pounds.  It was already thawed, so we couldn't just toss it in the freezer.  What to do with an extra turkey?  And a useless smoker? Experiment!!!!!

I found a website that made the process look easy, and proceeded.  The first step was to soak the wood chips; we had a few hickory chunks, and a bag of mesquite chips.  I also had some basil stems and a bundle of herbs I burn occasionally like incense.  Everything went into a pot and got a good soaking while we sprayed the inside of the smoker with cooking oil, then lit the charcoal.

The pieces got put back together (the wood chips go on the hot coals, and the soaking liquid goes in the bowl over the coals, then the bird goes on the grill on top).

And then it smokes.  For a long time.  Smells heavenly. free turkey is smoking in my almost-free smoker, and will eventually wind up in my free-zer.  Life's good.  And by the way, did I mention that it gratuitously snowed this morning?  Just to look pretty? I'll update with the finished turkey pictures and the paella report later.

Finished bird: three bags of smoked turkey for the freezer, minus legs and wings for tomorrow's dinner.  Oh My.

And here's our Thanksgiving dinner...I'll elucidate tomorrow.  Right now, I need a nap.

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