Courier Life Food

Not your typical Christmas turkey

Dinerama graduate Birdbox’s founder David Carter serves up a smokin’ turkey recipe for this Christmas.

25 Nov 2016

Turkey is as much of a Christmas tradition in the States as it is here, and we wanted to give it a touch of smoke and barbecue to honour this. Everyone’s experienced bland and boring roast turkey, and we think this is a much more bold and gutsy way of presenting it.

To bring out the flavour of the meat, it’s best to brine the turkey overnight. That way, it will also soak in the flavours of the chilli, garlic and herbs even more. Smoking the meat on the crown keeps it tender and moist whilst crisping up the spicy skin.

We don’t mess around too much with the ingredients. It’s all about trying to get the best flavour out of each item, allowing the smoke and gentle heat to do the work.

Smoked turkey breast with chilli garlic butter and paprika rub
Ingredients (serves 6-12)

Turkey crown, or whole turkey, preferably no larger than 5kg

For the brine

For the butter mix

For the rub

9 litres of water

300g salted butter

1 tbsp paprika

60ml Worcestershire sauce

2 red chillies, seeds removed

1 tbsp fine black pepper

300g salt

10 garlic cloves 1 tbsp celery salt

70g brown sugar

4 tsp picked thyme leaves

3 tbsp of minced garlic

4 tsp chopped parsley

50ml olive oil

1 tbsp Maldon sea salt

Cracked black pepper


Begin with the brine. Add all ingredients to a large saucepan, and warm the mixture until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Chill completely. Once cold, submerge the turkey in the brine and leave for 6-8 hours in the fridge.

Remove the turkey from the brine and let dry for an hour on a resting rack.

Meanwhile, make the butter. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend to a smooth consistency. Chill slightly.

Once butter is chilled but still soft enough to work with, stuff the mixture between the skin and the meat of the turkey. Stuff evenly all over the bird. Place in fridge.

Next, combine all rub ingredients untill well mixed.

Remove turkey from fridge and season all parts of the bird till evenly covered. Place back in the fridge to marinade while you light the smoker.

Bring your smoker up to around 130-150ºC (250-300ºF). (A normal oven will do, if you don’t have a smoker.)

Once smoker is up to temperature, place the turkey inside on a tray. (As the butter melts it will run over and out from the turkey, so the tray is important in order to stop the butter running onto the wood.)

Leave to cook for around 4-6 hours, depending on the size of the turkey. The core temperature should reach 70-80ºC (160-175ºF). You will be able to tell when it is cooked as the juice from the bird will run clear.

Once cooked, leave turkey to rest for 20 minutes covered with foil. Serve along with the butter you have collected in the tray.