You can almost taste it. From mouth-watering chicken wings to spicy dips, football season is upon us. My job is to bring your tailgating game to another level. Welcome to the big leagues of cooking, where I teach you to be the man in the kitchen.
Who am I?
My love for food was developed at a young age by cooking for my mother, using recipes in old cookbooks given to me by my grandmother. I began my culinary career at the age of 14 working at a local sub shop washing dishes and making subs. As the years went on I worked with a variety of restaurants working my way up from Sous Chef to Executive Chef before founding The Farmers Dinner, a farm-to-table event planning company. The Farmers Dinner concept came about from my time working with local farms in the New England area. In 2012, I launched the first Farmers Dinner in New Hampshire. It quickly sold out and subsequent events followed. Since 2012, The Farmers Dinner has hosted over 67 farm-to-table events across New England, and has fed more than 10,000 customers raising over $100,000 for local farms.
In my years in the kitchen, I learned the importance of quality ingredients. Often times we get ingredients grown thousands of miles away, picked when they are not ripe and then they are artificially ripened with gasses. The quality of ingredients in the dishes you prepare is fundamental in a kitchen setting. This is why farms and farmers markets are so important. You can get ingredients that are grown just miles away, picked at the peak of ripeness and you get to support the local economy. The same goes for the quality of meats you purchase. Quality goes a long way in the kitchen. Not only do chefs need to know how to spot quality ingredients, they need to know how to prepare them. In Boston, we are experiencing a renaissance of cuisine. From the countless cultural influences that are shaping our taste buds to the chefs who continue to put Boston on the map from a foodie driven culture, this city has it going on.
Today however, we are talking turkey, but not that dry roasted bird you choke down during halftime. We are talking perfectly cooked smoked turkey that is juicy, tender and packed with flavor. You are about to learn some tricks that will ensure a perfectly cooked bird that always finds its way to my tailgating parties.
Let’s talk the type of smoke we want for the bird. For a mild and sweet flavor I love using applewood. Being in New England, we are lucky to have so many awesome apple orchards and it happens that applewood and poultry are best friends. One of my favorite tips when I smoke a bird is to not forget the beer. In place of water for steam I love using beer. The beer coats the bird and brings a slight beer flavor to the turkey.
Serving Size: 5-10, depending on size
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 ½ -5 hours. (15 minutes per pound)
Ingredients: 1 (12-20 lb) Turkey
5 Tablespoons of butter melted
Applewood (or wood of your choice)
Aluminum drip pan
3 Cups of beer (to start)
- Soak wood for 1 hour before using it. This allows the smoke to dissipate slower.
- Preheat the smoker to 300 degrees F.
- Pat dry the inside and outside of the turkey and use your favorite rub or simply rub the
- turkey with melted butter and salt.
- Add the 3 cups of beer to the steam tray in your smoker. Note: You can also add apple
- juice in place of the water to bring a sweeter flavor to your turkey.
- Place an aluminum drip pan on the grate below your bird to catch the drippings.
- Place the turkey on a rack above your drip pan.
- Add 2 chunks of wood (or 8oz of wood) to the smoker and close the smoker.
- Smoke for about 4 hours making sure to add water to steam pan and chunks of wood as
- needed. When the internal temperature of the breast reaches 165 degrees F pull the turkey, wrap with foil and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes.
If the turkey starts to get to dark, you can wrap it loosely in foil to prevent further color.
After 2-3 hours I don’t use anymore wood. At this point the smoke is sufficient and
typically doesn’t require more wood for the rest of the cooking time
Chefs to Know:
One chef who has carried the torch from an iconic Cambridge establishment and is forging his own path for the current generation, Tyler Kinnett of Harvest in Cambridge has elevated the cuisine time and time again with his simple and thoughtful articulation of his menus. His food has delighted customers with a fresh farm-centric approach to his menus. Recently I had the privilege of working with Tyler as my company teamed up with Chef Tyler alongside his team at Harvest to host a dinner on Kimball Fruit Farm in Pepperell, MA. Tyler and I spent hours walking the farm, speaking with the owner Carl Hills and foraging.
Tyler’s passion and approach to food was evident from the moment we began talking. Often times it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that, as chefs, we are just cooking food. We try to elevate and innovate, and when we don’t achieve our vision we find ourselves being critical to the point of self-deprecation.
Tyler and I created a simple menu that honored the fresh ingredients grown just feet away from the diners. Courses like, The Lower Field: Plum, Charred Brassicas, Carrot Puree, Brookford Smoked Blue, Watermelon Vinegar, a dish that was inspired by Kimball Fruit Farm’s lower field where they grew a variety of brassicas and carrots. As Tyler and I talked, it was evident that his approach to cooking was one I could relate to-simple, thoughtful and fresh. Make sure to check out Tyler Kinnett and Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge. He is definitely a chef to watch.