Smoked Turkey Breast!

Turkey is a beautiful holiday staple!

I’m sorry, but I seem to have neglected Good Food, Bad Food! as I’ve been very busy with work and the holidays. Life just happens! I’m looking forward to updating the blog with new content though moving forward. Stay tuned, make sure you follow, and share Good Food, Bad Food! with your friends!

Turkey! It goes great with the holidays for some reason! In my house, my wife Stacey lays all claim to preparing the turkey for Thanksgiving. I’m actually forbidden to touch the turkey; it’s Stacey’s territory and I know better than to try to step on that. Besides, she does a phenomenal job with the turkey!

One thing I do enjoy preparing around this time of year though is smoked turkey breast. Smoked turkey breast is pretty easy to prepare in decently large quantities to feed larger groups of people. Recently I smoked six turkey breasts to feed approximately sixty people, and it barely took any effort to prepare!

I have to admit that one of the things that makes the turkey so easy to prepare is cheating. I start with Butterball Boneless Frozen Turkey Breast Roasts. These things come soaked in brine, which seems to turn off most smoking purists that I know, but it saves time and keeps the meat juicy. One of these turkey breast roast typically feeds ten people once all carved up. Something to remember though; you will need to let them thaw in the refrigerator for a couple of days to be able to prepare it.

The day before smoking the turkey breast, the prep begins. Start by opening up the package over a sink to drain out the excess juices. Pull out the gravy pouch and set it aside (the gravy isn’t bad at all and I’ll typically chef it up by adding a little BBQ rub to it). Then pull out the turkey, contained in a butcher string mesh wrap, and set it on a tray (you may need to rearrange and shape the turkey in the mesh, and spin the ends of the mesh, to tighten it up). Next, pat it dry with some paper towels. Then you will be ready for a dry rub!

The dry rub can be pretty simple and still pack a great flavor punch. A simple salt and course black pepper rub is all you really need for flavor your turkey breast roast and it’ll provide a great keyed surface for smoke flavor to absorb in to. Or, you can use your favorite rub! Liberally rub the turkey breast and stick it in the ‘fridge overnight to absorb the flavor.

Twelve turkey breast roasts all prepped up!

The next day, prep your smoker for a three to four hour smoke. I use a kamado smoker so I load up with lump charcoal accented with a smoking wood or two. To provide the smoke flavor, I like to use Apple wood with poultry, and I might throw a couple of small pieces of Hickory wood in too for it’s stronger flavor. Ideally, you’ll want your smoker between 225°F and 250°F (error towards the lower end of that temperature range). Once you feel the smoker has stabilized on that temperature you’re happy with, place your turkey breast on the smoker.

The smoker is all ready to go!

I highly suggest using a temperature probe inserted into the center of the turkey breast for monitoring your cook progress. I use a CyberQ by BBQ Guru. It’s a wireless BBQ controller that let’s you control pit temperatures and wirelessly monitor your cook progress remotely via your smart phone or computer.

BBQ Guru CyberQ! Damn I love this thing!

Once your turkey is on, let it smoke until you see it has reached an internal temperature of 140°F. Once it’s reached 140°F, you will need to pull the turkey from the smoker and wrap it in foil with a half stick of butter. To wrap the turkey, I use a double layer of aluminum foil with a half stick of butter (sliced lengthwise) placed in the middle. Place the turkey breast top-side down on the half stick of butter, wrap in the foil, and return it to the smoker. Re-insert your temperature probe, and continue to cook your turkey breast until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

The turkey breast roasts on their way to 140°F!
The turkey wrapped with butter and returned to the smoker.

Once the turkey has hit an internal temperature of 165°F, it’s pretty much done! All one needs to do is slice it and serve! To do this, I pour off the juices from the foil into whatever I’ll be serving the turkey in. I then place a cutting board in a larger baking sheet pan (to catch all of the turkey juice), use kitchen shears to remove the butcher string mesh wrap, and slice the turkey breast with an electric knife. Place your turkey slices in your serving dish and pour the juices from your cutting board on top of the meat, and serve!

All sliced up…
…and ready to serve!
Very moist and juicy with lots of flavor!
It doesn’t last long!
Photo Credit: Danny Lawson

The take aways:

  • If you do this right, you’ll have a really nice, moist and juicy turkey breast!
  • You’ll feel like a hero when you see how fast people eat up your turkey!
  • Smoked foods are great!
  • It doesn’t have to be difficult to be good!

Air Fryer Hot Wings!

A quick and easy alternative to that bar-food favorite on National Hot Wings Day!

On July 29th, we celebrate a very special, uniquely American food; the hot wing. Call ’em what you want; Buffalo wings, hot wings, or just simply call them wings. This great tasting, horribly unhealthy food supposedly originated from Buffalo, NY. In 1964, Teressa Bellisimo, a bar owner, needed a quick solution to the problem of feeding her son and his friends who stopped by her establishment, The Anchor Bar, unexpectedly one evening. What resulted from that night has grown into a wildly popular and now traditional dish served at bars and restaurants across America.

Wings, as I tend to refer to them, are one of my favorite foods. I especially enjoy them with college football (War Damn Eagle!) and cold beer, but I find myself getting the craving for them often. While I’d love to do it, running out for wings and beer every time I have the craving isn’t very practical. Luckily though, they are easily prepared in the air fryer!

Hello wings! Your chariot awaits!

To prepare quick and easy air fryer wings, you’ll need the chicken wings of course. Frozen wings are great for this, as you can keep them in your freezer and break them out whenever the craving hits you! Tonight I used Kroger grocery store brand frozen “Party Wings” that my wife, Stacey, picked up for me on sale this past weekend.

Frozen goodness!

While this particular bag states they will “cook perfectly without thawing,” in order to prepare these to cook in the air fryer, they do need thawed first. Once you have some raw, thawed chicken wings, you’ll need to pat them dry and get your “dredge” ready. I use a mixture of flour, cayenne pepper, fresh ground pepper, garlic salt, and onion powder to coat my wings. My suggestion is start with a half cup of flour and add spices to your taste. Simply mix the flour and spice mixture together in a bowl and pour it over your wings in a gallon resealable bag. Close it up and shake it all around to evenly coat your chicken pieces. Sometimes I will seal up the bag with the left over flour mixture and store it in the freezer for future use.

All nice and coated.

Once your wings are ready for the air fryer, it’s time to set your air fryer up to cook them. I highly recommend you use non-stick spray to coat your air fryer basket as cleaning up afterwards without having used it is a nightmare!

Learn from my mistake! Use the cooking spray!

Take each wing piece out of the resealable bag and shake the excess coating off into the bag. Place the wings into the air fryer basket being careful to try and not overlap wings too awfully much to promote airflow around them.

All ready to fry with hot air!

To “fry” these bad boys, I set my air fryer to it’s hottest temperature, 400°, and put the timer to 20 minutes. The beauty of cooking wings in the air fryer is you don’t need to introduce hot oil to actually fry them. An air fryer is basically a small, quick heating, convection oven that circulates hot air around whatever food you are air frying. There is just enough oil in the skin of the chicken wing pieces so that when you add the flour based coating and circulating hot air, you get crispy skin!

They’re starting to get crispy!

While the wings are cooking, you’ll want to check on them every so often to see how well they are getting cooked. While I set the timer for around 20 minutes usually, I keep a constant watch on the wings and typically pull them when I feel they are crispy enough to hold onto the sauce properly.

While the wings are cooking, it’s a good idea to use the time to get your hot wing sauce ready. I like to start with a traditional wing sauce base; cayenne pepper sauce and melted butter. I prefer Frank’s Red Hot Original sauce, mixing about 2/3 of a cup of the Frank’s Red Hot Original with 1/2 cup of melted butter. You can add or subtract butter to play with the hotness of your wing sauce; simply adding butter will temper some of the heat. I also add about 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce and several dashes of Tabasco Sauce (my favorites are the Chipotle or the Jalapeno Tabasco sauces). Get inventive here and have some fun! Try adding different ingredients for different effects. I’ve made this wing sauce before with additions like ranch seasoning, melted cheddar cheese and dice pickled-jalapeno pieces.

The start of a good hot wing sauce!
The sauce is ready!

Once you’ve determined you are happy with the crispiness of your wings, use a set of tongs to remove them from the air fryer basket and place them in a bowl (preferably a bowl you have a lid or cover for). Pour your hot wing sauce over top, cover, and shake up the wings to make sure they are evenly coated in sauce.

Ready for coating in sauce!

I like to plate my wings with the perfect side for wings; Publix brand Restaurant Style Frozen French Fries are awesome prepared in the air fryer. As for a dipping sauce, my preference in ranch! The best thing about these home made wings is that you probably wont be able to tell them apart from the bar-prepared fried version!

These where some DAMN good wings! Happy National Hot Wings Day!

What you need to know about air fryer hot wings:

  • You need an air fryer and you need to try making air fryer wings!
  • They are DAMN good!
  • It is fun experimenting with the sauce ingredients!
  • It’s much easier cleaning up after air frying wings than cleaning up after deep frying wings!
  • Happy National Hot Wings Day!
  • This is my design.