Applewood-Smoked Turkey & Sausage and Cornbread Stuffing
(Serves six to eight)
Photography by Andre Baranowski
There’s no reason to stop using your outdoor smoker when the summer months have ended. Put the smoker to work on this applewood-smoked turkey recipe from Gregory Gilbert, owner/chef of Memphis Mae's in Croton-on-Hudson. It's a great alternative to traditional roasted turkey. The smoky flavor of the bird pairs perfectly with this downhome sausage and cornbread stuffing.
• 2 gal water
• ½ gal apple juice
• 3 cups honey
• 1½ cups kosher salt
• 1 lb light brown sugar
• 1 Tbsp ground black pepper
• 12 to 15 lb turkey
In a pot large enough to fit the turkey and brine, bring all of the brine ingredients except the turkey to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool. Once the brine has reached 40°F, submerge the turkey and keep refrigerated for two days.
• 1 lb unsalted butter, softened
• applewood chips
Don't have a smoker?
That’s okay, you can use your backyard grill as a smoker. Heat the grill to 200°F. Put tinfoil over the coals. Sprinkle applewood chips over the tinfoil. Follow prep instructions for turkey above and place on the prepared grill. Maintain grill heat at 200°F to 225°F and follow cooking instructions above.
Remove the turkey from the brine and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours before smoking. Make sure the temperature on your smoker is between 220°F and 230°F. Place the applewood chips on the hotplate over the coals or the electric burner (depending on your smoker). Place a drip pan between the chips and the turkey. This will allow the wood chips to continue to smoke, and the drippings that the pan will catch will add moisture to your bird as it smokes. Coat the turkey with a half-pound of soft butter. Wrap the entire turkey in cheesecloth. Rub half pound of butter over the cheesecloth (to ensure cheese cloth is moist and doesn’t burn). Place the turkey in the smoker. Allow 20 minutes cooking time per pound. The internal temperature should be 160°F to 165°F. When the turkey has reached its proper temperature, remove it from the smoker, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Cornbread (for stuffing):
• 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
• ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 Tbsp baking powder
• 2 large egg yolks
• 2 Tbsp maple syrup
• 1 cup half & half
• 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, stir together cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder. Whisk in the yolks, syrup, half & half, and butter, mixing until smooth. Pour batter into a greased 9” x 13” pan and bake for 25 minutes. Let the cornbread cool then cut into 1-inch squares. Place the cornbread on a baking sheet and return to oven to toast until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.
• 1 lb unsalted butter
• 1 Vidalia onion, diced
• 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 2 celery stalks, diced
• 2 lbs sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
• 1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
• 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
• 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
• 8 cups diced toasted cornbread (see above recipe)
• about 4 cups chicken broth
• salt and pepper to taste
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt butter over medium-low heat and cook the onions, garlic, and celery until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until the sausage is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the herbs and toasted cornbread. Then add enough chicken broth to bring the mixture together. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve. Stuffing can be prepared ahead and reheated in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes before serving.