When a whole turkey is just too much, try the breast instead. Try this recipe for Cranberry-Glazed Smoked Turkey Breast.
It’s important to try and purchase meat that has not been ‘enhanced’ or had a solution added. A great deal of commercial turkey meat has been enhanced with a saline solution to try to keep the meat from drying during cooking, increase sale weight and promote tenderness. Often it can actually over-tenderize the thinner edges, leaving the texture less than desirable. If your meat has already been enhanced, you can still use this recipe, just skip the brining part.
I recommend using fruit woods to accent this cook, such as peach, cherry or apple. The delicate sweetness of the wood smoke pairs beautifully with the turkey. Cherry in particular also helps develop a deeper mahogany color. If you want something more neutral, try oak wood instead.
To keep an eye on both the turkey and the pit temperature, I use Thermoworks Smoke monitoring unit. It’s particularly important to know when your turkey is at the safe temperature, without being overcooked. The temperature you’re shooting for is going to be 163f (technically, it needs to get to 165f but will continue to rise a few degrees after you remove it from the smoker).
Start by brining the turkey breast. Heat the water over medium-low flame and add the salt and sugar. Stir until dissolved then allow mixture to cool completely. Add the allspice, peel and peppercorns. Submerge the turkey breast completely and place into the fridge for 4-6 hours.
Heat up a smoker to run at 225-245f.
Remove the turkey breast from brine, rinse thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towel, then season all over with the Red rub. Place the seasoned breast into the smoker.
In a small pan, combine the cranberry sauce, cider vinegar and bbq sauce. Place over low heat until all ingredients are combined and the jellied cranberry has melted.
After the turkey has been in the smoker for at least an hour and a half (so the rub is set), brush the entire top surface with the cranberry glaze. Brush again after 30 minutes, and again 30 minutes after that, so there is a total of three glazing applications.
Allow the turkey to continue cooking until the thickest part of the breast registers 163f, which will take about 3.5-4 hours.
Remove the breast from the smoker, and slice to serve.
Note 1 – I use Morton’s coarse kosher salt in my kitchen, but you can try pickling salt if you’re looking for something that dissolves faster in the brine.