Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and this is usually when people tend to start putting on that winter weight. I try to maintain a healthy diet year-round, but it can be a challenge when turkey and stuffing are on the table! When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, turkey is my biggest weakness. Last year, my son Jake and I tried to step up our Thanksgiving game and smoked our turkey for the first time.
I used my Amazon Prime points to order a smoker, and my son and I jumped right in. It’s a whole new world, and we did a lot of research to get started. Believe it or not, there’s a lot more that goes into smoking meat than just starting the fire and leaving your dinner in the smoker for a few hours. It’s a whole science! I’m by no means an expert yet, but in my experience I’ve learned a few important lessons:
- The apron is key. You will get dirty reaching into the smoker. If you don’t want your clothes covered in ash and grease, invest in a good apron.
- The built-in temperature gauge on most smokers will be completely off. I suggest replacing it with a better quality gauge, which you can easily find on Amazon.
- Our smoker came with a pair of oven mitts, but they were really ineffective. Like the temperature gauge, I recommend getting a more durable pair of mitts before you turn up the heat.
- If you want to smoke fish, you have to dedicate your smoker to only fish. Trust me, you don’t want to smoke salmon and then throw a chicken in there. That bird will come out more than a little fishy.
When Thanksgiving rolled around, we’d only smoked meat a few times, and I don’t think my daughters, Madelyn and Alyssa, appreciated our experience with the turkey. Thankfully, we didn’t have to order pizza for dinner, because after that bird came out of the smoker, it was one of the best turkeys I’ve ever eaten!
Since then, we’ve prepared all kinds of meals in the smoker. Some things turn out great, like vegetables and chicken, while other recipes were a disappointment, like the one time we tried to smoke duck. Save for the turkey last year, my favorite smoker success was brisket. That was delicious. Though, be warned, it takes forever to smoke right. Jake and I spent 18 hours on this thing, and it wasn’t done until 2 a.m.!
Eating smoked food all year has been awesome but the best part of the experience was sharing a new hobby with my son. Whether a recipe turns out well matters far less than the time we spend together. I think Thanksgiving is the same way. Thanksgivings don’t tend to be over-thetop affairs, but I always look forward to the Thanksgivings I get to spend with my kids. I don’t care if we have smoked turkey and stuffing or leftover pizza for dinner. Getting to be with my family is the best tradition I could hope for.
– Randy Sklar