Well friends, we are about one week out from Thanksgiving. I am so happy you’re here because today was a real family affair in the kitchen. Alex and I have teamed up to share our Turkey Day with you! I realize things may be a bit quieter for you this year, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up on the flavors of Thanksgiving; the time spent preparing the dishes and the celebration of what we are thankful for. I will be making a number of dishes for the Djalali table which I will share with you next week, but today let’s focus on Smoked Turkey and Sweet Potato Casserole.
One Day before…
We have an eleven pound turkey which we decided to brine. So at least 14 hours before you want to cook the bird, fill a container big enough for the turkey with about one quart of warm water. I estimated that I would use about 8-9 quarts of water so I added two tablespoons of Kosher salt for every quart. Add the salt to dissolve in the warm water. Once the salt is dissolved I added the remaining 7-8 quarts of cold water and placed the turkey in the container. Then, I added just a little more water to fully cover the bird. Closed the lid on my 12-quart Cambro and put it in the fridge. Night, night sweet bird.
Prepping for the Smoker
The next morning, I pulled the turkey from the brine and thoroughly dried it with paper towels. To stuff the bird, I quartered 1 apple, 1 yellow onion and one lemon. I tied some fresh sage and thyme together to go in the cavity. Skewer the wings to hold them close to the breasts, then stuff the cavity with the onion, apple, lemon and herbs.
After stuffing, I tied the legs together with kitchen twine and skewered the bottom of the cavity to keep it all in place. We sprayed the bird with vegetable oil and rubbed it with a Salt, Pepper, Garlic mixture. While I did this, Alex got the smoker going with apple and cherry wood chips. Once the smoker reached 325 degrees, we were ready to put the bird on the grill.
When you set up your grill to smoke, place a large aluminum pan under the grate to catch the drippings, then place your meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast. After the bird is on for 45 minutes, it’s time to baste. For the baste, melt 2 sticks of salted butter with a few sprigs of thyme and a few smashed garlic cloves. Brush the bird with the butter baste every 30-40 minutes.
Total smoke time is 2.5 hours for an 11 pound bird. When the internal temperature reaches 155-160 degrees, it’s done! Check the temp in the thigh and the thickest part of the breast. Be sure to let it rest for at least 20 minutes. It will continue cooking during this rest and can come up 10 whole degrees!
If you have never smoked a turkey before, I highly recommend it! The skin developed a nice crunch and the meat is succulent and incredibly well seasoned. No dry white meat to be found!
Sweet Potato Casserole
While Alex was working away at the smoker, I was preparing the Sweet Potato Casserole. I truly love sweet potatoes. I never have them as a sweet preparation except for Thanksgiving. So I was excited to find a recipe that, with a few of my own tweaks, is not too sweet. We won’t be having marshmallow on top! But we will have a crunchy, chewy, buttery pecan crumb on top.
This made the perfect amount for a small number of people. I used my small square 2-quart and it all fit just perfectly. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and place 4 medium sized sweet potatoes on a sheet tray. You want about 3 pounds worth. Roast them for about 1 hour, until they’re very soft and have pulled away from their skins. Pull them, but don’t turn off the oven. Let them cool while you prep the other ingredients.
Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel away the skins and remove the hard stem part at the tip. I used my hands to mash them because I don’t have a potato masher. I quite enjoyed this activity and I got a very smooth and silky mash.
We will add 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3.5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter to the mashed sweet potatoes. Use a silicone spatula to thoroughly mix. Spoon the mixture into your casserole dish and smooth it out into a nice even layer.
The Pecan topping is just 3/4 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar and 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter. Mix these together and spoon over the top of the mashed sweet potatoes. Top with several whole pecans.
Pop it in your already heated 350 degree oven and bake it for 35 minutes, or until the top is as crisp as you prefer. I let mine go 40 minutes. Once it comes out, sprinkle fresh thyme over the top.
Smoked Turkey and Sweet Potato Casserole
And that’s our Turkey Day plan for Smoked Turkey and Sweet Potato Casserole! As I mentioned at the top, I will share more of what we have on deck for Thanksgiving as we get closer to the big day, so stay tuned! (You know my Fall Harvest Salad will make the cut!) I hope you have enjoyed spending a little time with Alex and me today, we sure had a great time together in the kitchen preparing these great recipes for you! Give me a follow on Instagram, Pinterest and facebook, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get special unpublished recipes and tips. See you all very soon, take care and be well, xo Kelly
Sweet Potato Casserole
A fresh take on a classic sweet potato casserole, not too sweet with a hint of thyme.
- 3 lbs. Sweet Potatoes (about 4 medium sized sweet potatoes)
- 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
- 1/4 Cup Orange Juice
- 3.5 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
- Fresh Thyme (about 1 tsp.)
- Pecan Topping
- 3/4 cup Pecans, chopped
- 3 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted
- 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake sweet potatoes for 1 hour, until very soft and pulling away from skin. Pull and let cool but keep your oven on at 350.
When sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel away their skins and remove any hard stem parts at the tips.
Use your hands to thoroughly mash and squish the sweet potatoes to a silky whipped consistency.
Add the cream, orange juice, salt, butter and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
Spoon mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish and smooth to an even layer. set aside.
For the Topping
Mix melted butter, brown sugar and pecans.
Spoon over sweet potatoes and spread to cover.
Add several whole pecans to top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until top is crispy to your liking.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh thyme.