With very little effort required, this pecan applewood smoked turkey breast is rubbed with a simple poultry seasoning, smoked over a pan of cranberry infused water for a moist smoking environment, with smoky coals, pecan wood chunks, and wet applewood chips. Tender, juicy turkey like no other!
Rinse the (thawed) turkey breast and pat dry with paper towels.
Season the meat on all sides with the rotisserie seasoning and rub it into the skin. I rubbed the turkey the morning before the turkey went on the grill, then placed it back into the refrigerator until it was needed. You can rub the turkey up to 24-hours prior to going on the smoker. Allowing the meat to sit in the refrigerator for several hours allows the rub to penetrate the meat even more.
Prepare the Grill or Smoker:
Soak a few handfuls applewood chips for about 30 minutes in warm water before placing on the coals.
Set it up a charcoal grill indirect heat, using charcoal baskets to help retain the charcoal. Fill an aluminum drip pan with a 50/50 mixture of pure cranberry juice and water and place it directly underneath the meat to stabilize the temperature. Unless you fill the pan pretty well, this water is likely to evaporate during the smoking process, so be prepared to refill the pan as necessary.
Preheat the grill to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)
Knowing the temp in your grill is crucial, you may want to purchase a dual probe digital BBQ thermometer that reads the temperature of the grate as well as the meat. David has one with a remote and loves it!
Smoke the turkey:
When the grill is within the ideal temperature range, you are ready to smoke! Place the turkey breast on the hot grate over the drip pan, toss a hand full of the soaked applewood chips and a dry chunk of pecan wood onto the coals; cover the grill.
David likes to use a combination of dry and wet wood chips, alternating between the two. The dry gives a quick intense smoke and brings the heat up. The wet wood chunks provide a lower, slower smoke and bring the heat down. Heat adjustments can be made using this technique.
Smoke the Turkey Breast Low and slow:
Check the temperature of the grill every hour or so, staying as close to 250 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid, unless there is little to no smoke coming out of the top. Only open the lid to add more charcoal or soaked wood chips to maintain temperature and smoke.
Check for Doneness:
After at least 4-hours, check the temperature of the meat to see where it is and get an idea of how much more time it will need to smoke.
Smoke the turkey breast until a dark “bark” (outside crust) forms and the internal temperature of the meat is about 170 to 180 degrees F, about 5 hours. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. A lot of turkey breast come with a pop-up timer. Use it as a guide, but it is wise to double-check the temperature to make sure it is at least 165 to 170 degrees F before removing from the smoker. Remember, a long low smoke allows this pecan applewood smoked turkey breast to become tender, juicy and full of so much flavor, but don't overcook it or it will become dry.
Rest the Turkey:
After the smoked turkey breast is completely done, remove it from the grill. Place it on a carving plate or board to allow it to rest as you would with grilled or roasted meats. Allowing the turkey breast to rest lets the meat fibers relax, moisture that was driven out is redistributed and reabsorbed by some of the dissolved proteins. Rested meat holds on to more of its natural juices. A good 15 to 20 minutes rest should do under loosely tented foil.
Slice and Serve:
To carve the smoked turkey breast, remove the pop-up indicator (if applicable). Slice the breast against the grain into ½-inch slices. Perfectly cooked meat should be moist and juicy.
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