Whole Turkey
Courtesy of Matt Horn
Yields 5 Servings
AuthorMatt Horn
Turkey is not just for large gatherings, served as a whole bird, pitmaster Matt Horn says. Breasts can be smoked for a weeknight dinner. Here we use legs—the dark meat is juicer, more flavorful, and less expensive than the white meat. This recipe makes a lot of turkey. If you don’t need as much, just cut the recipe in half.
 
This recipe comes from Matt Horn's upcoming cookbook (his first!), Horn Barbecue: Recipes and Techniques from a Master of the Art of BBQ.
 

How to Make It

1

In a large pot, combine the water, salt, brown sugar, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, sage, pepper, and cloves and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool.

2

Place the turkey legs in a large bowl and pour the cooled brine over them; they should be completely submerged. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight, or for 5 to 6 hours.

3

When you are ready to cook the turkey legs, preheat the smoker to 300°F (149°C).

4

Place the turkey legs in the smoker and cook for 3½ to 4 hours until golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 203°F (96°C) and the meat is falling off the bone. Slow smoking is key, so periodically check the legs and the smoker temperature, turning the legs occasionally.

5

Serve immediately.

Ingredients

 8 cups water
 ½ cup salt
 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
 1 ½ tbsp dried thyme
 1 ½ tbsp garlic powder
 1 ½ tbsp onion powder
 1 tbsp dried sage
 1 ½ tsp coarse black pepper
 ½ tsp ground cloves
 5 whole turkey legs

Directions

1

In a large pot, combine the water, salt, brown sugar, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, sage, pepper, and cloves and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool.

2

Place the turkey legs in a large bowl and pour the cooled brine over them; they should be completely submerged. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight, or for 5 to 6 hours.

3

When you are ready to cook the turkey legs, preheat the smoker to 300°F (149°C).

4

Place the turkey legs in the smoker and cook for 3½ to 4 hours until golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 203°F (96°C) and the meat is falling off the bone. Slow smoking is key, so periodically check the legs and the smoker temperature, turning the legs occasionally.

5

Serve immediately.

Matt Horn’s Smoked Turkey Legs