Everyone has their own recipe for placing an unforgettable bird on the table Thanksgiving Day. So for starters, here is Chas B's:
Two days before the big day, start with a thawed or fresh bird.
Place in a brining bag with equal parts of buttermilk, non-tap water and one cup Kosher salt. Mix ingredients together insuring salt is dissolved prior to putting in bag. Use enough so that entire bird will be immersed in solution inside bag. I also add one tablespoon of Italian seasoning and one teaspoon of granulated garlic. Place bag in refrigerator or large ice chest. Using ice chest, add ice to keep bird cooled down.
One the morning of the big day, make a mixture of softened butter and what seasoning your prefer. I use poultry rub and sometimes a little of my smoking rub. Remove bird and pat dry. DO NOT RINSE! Gently loosen skin from breast and liberally place butter mixture between skin and breast. Generously rub down entire bird with either olive oil or more softened butter.
Now here comes the kicker, SMOKE IT! I have used a Weber kettle as well as our pellet smoker. After placing the bird in large foil pan and putting into smoker, fill the chest cavity with unfiltered apple cider. City folks can find this usually in the produce department. I use a mixture of hickory, apple and cherry to smoke poultry. As the bird is doing it's thing, every hour baste it alternating with the apple cider and a semi-dry white wine like Chardonnay. The trick here is LOW and SLOW. 225F-240F tops for cooking temps.
Depending on the size of the bird, six to eight hours later you will have a work of art sitting on the dinner table. The skin will be crispy and the juices run out while carving.
And the gravy will be unbelievable. Make a rue out of butter and flour or corn starch. Add a little at a time to the warm drippings in the pan to get the desired consistency of thickness.
Trust me on this one. The return on investment of time and effort is well worth it.
ENJOY ALL and have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving Holiday.