The flavors of smoked turkey are matched well with the flavors of the Cajun Holy Trinity of onions, celery and bell peppers, add the smoky, spicy Andouille sausage and you have a wonderful meal. I have made this for Thanksgiving and Christmas too.
This brined then smoked turkey carries Cajun flavors combined with this shrimp and spicy Andouille sausage stuffing recipe is not classic Louisiana but great nonetheless. I developed this stuffing for our Lehr’s Greenhouse Restaurants in San Diego and San Francisco for our Great American Seafood Festival back in the ‘80s. It has been one of our family favorites ever since. At the bottom of the page I have included a Bourbon Cranberry Sauce and Yams with Bourbon and Pecan Crust which goes very nicely with this as well. Make your favorite pumpkin and pecan pie, very nice!
Brining your turkey is an important step as it keeps your turkey moist and adds flavor.
If you can, make your brine two days prior to smoking the turkey. It will allow the salt and sugar to dissolve.
The day before you plan to make smoked turkey unwrap and rinse well. Note, do not buy a pre-brined turkey, use a natural turkey. I like a 12-14 lb turkey for smoking, the brine can penetrate pretty well in 24 hours. This brine is fairly light on salt, we do not want a heavy cure which may dry out the turkey. Also, unless the turkey is larger, do not extend the brining time.
Brine For a 12-14 lb Turkey
1 gallon water
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Cajun blackening spice
1 tablespoon Mesquite spice rub or an additional tablespoon of Cajun blackening spices.
1 tablespoon black pepper
5 cloves garlic smashed with the flat side of a knife or 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
Add the spices to the water, bring to boil, stir well. Cool and chill to refrigerator temperature 45 degrees. When cold place the turkey in the brine. If brining in a pot, make sure the turkey is submerged. If using a brining bag, make sure the brine covers the bird well. Eliminating air in the bag will help. Brine the turkey for up to 24 hours.
Once the turkey is out of the brine, it needs to be prepped for the smoker. Season the turkey with Cajun spices, if you desire a less spicy seasoning then paprika. A nice dusting of black pepper too, then the kosher salt.
Smoked turkey is a low and slow operation
Being from California, I have become accustomed to Mesquite wood chips. Hickory or apple wood chips are nice too.
The turkey will smoke for approximately 6-7 hours.
4 – 5 cups of wood chips, mesquite, hickory or apple wood.
If using a gas fired or digital electric smoker preheat your smoker to 250 degrees.
If using a wood or charcoal fired smoker, light your fires for indirect and low heat. If your grill is large enough to have two sides with indirect heat, do so. Otherwise you will need to rotate your turkey during the cooking time around every hour and a half. Place a pan or foil pan under where your turkey will sit, put a ½ inch of water in that pan.
Place your turkey in the smoker when the temps and or the coals are stabilized.
Smoke the turkey at 250 degrees for 6 hours.
Adding your wood chips depends on the directions for the smoker or how you are going to burn them on the coals. Soaking is required for coals, but in some gas smokers they are not. In my case, using a gas fired smoker I used dry chips. If using my Weber kettle, I would recommend using dry chips wrapped in foil then poke holes in the foil. Then place the packet directly on the coals. Change them out every 1 ½ to two hours.
If cooking on coals keep an eye on your temperatures, add more hot coals or wood if needed. Also check your water in the pan, put more water in as needed.
Cook your turkey in this manner until a thermometer placed in to the thigh is at 165 degrees. To be honest, I pull mine off a bit earlier at 155 but the USDA guideline is 165.
Allow your smoked turkey to sit for 20 to 30 minutes prior to carving.
A family favorite when we make smoked turkey
¼ cup olive oil
2 ½ cups chopped celery
2 ½ cups diced onion
2 ½ cups chopped red and green bell peppers
1 tablespoon garlic finely chopped
3 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley finely chopped
1 lb. Andouille sausage thinly sliced
1 lb. shrimp, peeled deveined and shells reserved.
1 tablespoon Cajun spice
2 teaspoons dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh
¼ cup white wine
8 cups baguette cubes stale (see note regarding cornbread option)
2 cups turkey stock (see note regarding shrimp stock)
1 tablespoon paprika
In a large sauté pan brown the Andouille sausage in the olive oil. When browned add the onions, reduce the heat to medium and sauté until the onions are clear. Add the garlic sauté for a couple of minutes then celery and bell peppers. Kick you heat up and sauté until the veggies are softening. Add the Cajun spice and white wine. Cook for another few minutes. Turn the heat off and allow to cool down.
* Optional step, shrimp stock. In a small pot, place the shrimp shells, some onion peels and ends and add 2 cups of turkey or chicken stock. Cook for 5 minutes and strain. Use this as the alternate for the regular turkey stock.
Prepare a large casserole dish large enough to accommodate all the stuffing including the bread.
Add the bread cubes and parsley to the veggie and sausage mixture, stir to combine. Pour the stock over to moisten. Please note if the bread is not very dry reduce the stock, it should not be too wet. Add the raw shrimp to the mix.
Pour into the casserole, dust with paprika. Cover with foil.
Bake for 45 minutes at 350.
* Note -Cornbread option – I used to make this dish with cornbread and it is wonderful. While we were living in Mexico it was tough to come by regular corn meal for the cornbread, so we wound up making it with baguettes. Substitute the cornbread for the baguette. Reduce the stock so that the corn bread does not get too gummy.
This dish is fairly sweet, if you desire you can cut back on the sugar in the yam mixture. It is a good foil with smoked turkey
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup Bourbon Whiskey
1 stick of butter
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecans
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash your yams and place them on a cookie sheet with foil (easier clean up) Prick your yams with a fork or knife and place in the oven. Bake them until they are nice and soft. Likely an hour and a half to two hours.
In a food processor combine the items for the pecan crust. Process until to a corn meal style consistency. All to sit at room temperature, until time to put on the yam mixture.
Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool enough to scoop out the yam. Scoop them into a mixer or bowl. Mix them or mash them well. Stir in the bourbon, sugar, maple syrup, salt and ginger. Whip the butter into the mixture. Oil or butter a large casserole dish and spread the yam mixture evenly across. Top with an the pecan crust.
Bake 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
A great blend with the smoked turkey....
1 lb. Cranberries fresh rinsed
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup Bourbon whiskey
Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed sauté pan, add the bourbon heat and add the cranberries. Stir occasionally, the cranberries will give up their liquid. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes, add the cinnamon and cool.
There is a very nice holiday meal here, round it out with your mashed potatoes and a nice light salad.
The leftovers from this combination of recipes especially the smoked turkey are absolutely killer. An amazing post T-Day sandwich.
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