Brooke Williamson's Smoked Turkey Tip For A Successful Thanksgiving

The holiday season is just around the corner, and like many of you, we've got turkey on our mind. The stereotypical Thanksgiving dinner has us roasting a whole turkey in the oven, but is that really the best way to go? At the 2023 New York Wine and Food Fest, Tasting Table had a chance to sit down with celebrity chef and restaurateur Brooke Williamson, and we asked her about what she does for Thanksgiving and what she recommends for home cooks.

Williamson admitted that she'd be satisfied "with a Thanksgiving dinner that consisted of a sausage chestnut stuffing and a salad," but she still loves smoked turkey legs."I brine them overnight, throw 'em on the smoker for six to eight hours until they're super, super tender and get that beautiful smoke on them," she shared. We were sold; that sounded fantastic, but smokers aren't always the easiest way to cook. To help out the folks back home, we wanted to know what she was doing to make sure they came out perfect. She said the big mistake people make is thinking that they have to smoke the whole bird at once. "I think people assume when you smoke turkey, you have to smoke a whole turkey, but I think the best part is those drums or the legs ... or the wings!" she proclaimed.

Cooking the turkey in pieces

It's something we here at Tasting Table have said before, and we're happy to have the support of the pros. Turkeys aren't uniformly consistent throughout. We all know that there's light meat and dark meat on a turkey. They cook at different speeds and, if you cook them both together, you often overcook the white meat while you're waiting for the dark meat to finish. You end up with a lot of dry, bland white meat, which is no good. "You can just buy the parts and smoke the parts, and those take half the amount of time," said Williamson. "And you never find a dry turkey leg. It's all dark meat, my way to go."

If you're feeding enough people where buying the whole turkey makes sense, just carve off whatever parts you want to smoke and cook the rest a different way. It may seem like more work, but once you taste the results, you'll never go back. You can always do what Williamson does and buy the turkey already cut into whatever pieces you want to use. Don't forget to brine them overnight for the most lip-smacking Thanksgiving ever.