Home-Smoked Turkey Breast

We all know how awesome the Texas Trinity is — brisket, pork ribs and sausage. But I’m telling y’all, Texas-style smoked turkey breast deserves its own category of phenomenalism as well. That stuff is just bomb. I’ve had it at many Texas barbecue joints, but had never made it at home. I finally had a little time a week or two ago and just did it. The truth is, it isn’t overly complicated and it doesn’t take tons of time either. I’ll be doing this at home again and again and again. Dadgum it’s good! Here’s what I did, starting with a ~4lb frozen turkey breast from my friends at Smitty’s Meat Market and Smokehouse in Tomball.

Brining

Turkey really is a great meat. But nobody likes the old dried out image of Thanksgiving turkey. The beautiful thing about a great Texas-style smoked turkey breast is the farthest thing from dried out. There are a couple reasons for that. The first reason is the brining process. This process infuses additional moisture deep into the meat. Here’s how I did it.

  • I brined it in a very simple poultry brining solution:
    • 4 cups of water
    • 1/4 cup of sea salt
    • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • Since it was such a simple brine, I didn’t even need to boil it. I just whisked it until the salt and sugar dissolved completely.
  • The turkey breast went into the brine solution and the whole thing went into the fridge overnight.

Slather and Seasoning

  • First thing the next morning I pulled the turkey breast out of the brine and dried it off
  • To season it, I started with a slather of Primal Kitchen avocado oil-based mayonnaise (it’s darn great-quality stuff). Don’t worry if you don’t like mayo – when all is said and done, you will not be able to taste it. The mayo has two main purposes – 1) moisture barrier, and 2) binder for the dry rub.
  • From a rub standpoint, a Texas smoked turkey generally gets treated much like a brisket does – with a salt-and-pepper focused rub, and many times with a pepper-forward bite to it (not unlike those incredible beef ribs at places like Louie Mueller BBQ in Taylor or Brett’s Barbecue Shop in Katy). For my rub, I started with reasonable coverage using Meat Church Holy Cow. I then followed that up with a reasonably heavy coating of 16-mesh black pepper.

Cooking Time

Once the turkey breast was all seasoned up, it went on my new Traeger Ironwood 885. I was using B&B Charcoal Championship Blend pellets and set the temperature to 225F with Super Smoke turned on (I really like a good smoky flavor). After about 45 minutes, and every 45 minutes thereafter, I used some melted butter and just drizzled it all over the top so that I wouldn’t unseat the bark that was setting in. The bird ended going about 3 hours 45 minutes total. I pulled it once I checked the internal temperature at the thickest part of the breast using my Thermapen Mk4 and it read 162F. I brought it in and let it rest for a while. Once we sliced into it, oh man it was just amazing. I really loved the moisture, the smoky flavor, the tenderness of the meat, and the bite of that black pepper. Like I said before, I am planning to do this regularly. It’s just that easy and it’s just that good. Try it yourself and let me know what you think.

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