Welcome to the new Tombstone BBQ web-site. We are a family competition BBQ team from Kalama Washington that travels around the great Pacific Northwest competing in professional BBQ contests. 2012 was the first year we competed professionally and boy we took the area by storm winning many awards and trophies. Tombstone BBQ grew out of our days of chili competitions because of a lack of quality chili cookoffs and cooks in the Pacific Northwest. Currently in the BBQ world there are plenty of opportunities to compete with over 280 actively competing teams just in this area. Tombstone BBQ secured the "Rookie of the Year award" in the PNWBA after finishing 2nd over-all in Brisket and 3rd in Pork for the 2012 year. Stay tuned for more details and updates as we put the finishing touches on the site. 2013 should be very exciting as we plan on doing 15 or more contests ranging from California to Montana and through the southern parts of Canada. Hopefully we will also have the opportunity to compete at the "Jack Daniels" in Lynchburg Tennessee and the "American Royal" in Kansas City!
If you love BBQ check out the catering tab where we come too you!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Smoked Turkey

This is not your usual smoked turkey recipe, this is a very slow-smoked cured turkey that will be the juiciest turkey you have ever had with a mellow smoky taste throughout, and not just on the surface. Your family and friends will rave about it.

This obsession started back in 1986 when my sister brought home a real smoked turkey for Thanksgiving and since that day we have been hooked on them. The first few years we did small birds for Thanksgiving on a cheap "Little Chief" smoker and have since moved up to a "Sausage Maker" 20# smoker that has been modified with the stainless steel base. We now do multiple turkeys ever year throughout the fall and winter for family and friends.

*When smoking at such low temperatures product safety is a MUST, always buy the freshest meats you can get your hands on, keep your brine below 38 degrees at all times and never allow the bird to warm towards room temperatures when prepping the meat and getting it ready for the brine. We always make the brine up a day ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for 24 hours to cool, just to make sure when we put the bird in there that we are not entering the danger zone which is anything above 40 degrees. Making the brine ahead of time also allows the sugars and salts to fully dissolve. We have found the best container for brining a turkey is a cheap plastic 5 gallon bucket from "Home Depot", just make sure you thoroughly clean and sanitize it before each use. The use of "Insta-cure" is mandatory in this recipe!!!

The best size turkeys seem to be in the 12-14# range, plus these are normally the easiest to get fresh in the market, avoid any frozen turkeys and any that have been previously injected. We have worked with both of these problems and they do come out good in the end, but you are always playing with safety when dealing with anything besides the freshest available products. My recipe originally came from Rytek Kutas's book "Great Sausage and Meat Curing", if you do not have this book, please get it! I consider it the "BIBLE" of meat curing because of all the invaluable information it contains.

All measurements are done by weight because the density of salt varies according to the type used, we always use "Kosher" salt because it does not have any added ingredients and does possess a "clean" chemical-free taste, DO NOT USE "Iodized" salt. Dextrose can easily be found in any health food store, the reason for using this product rather then regular table sugar is because it quickly dissolves and penetrates deeper into meats.(Hint, hint, BBQers).

  • 3 gallons of cold water
  • 14.4 ounces of Dextrose
  • 19.2 ounces of Salt
  • 9.6 ounces of "Insta-cure" #1
  • 1/4 cup of coarse black pepper
  • 20 Bay leaves
Mix all the above ingredients thoroughly together to make sure the salts are fully dissolved. Wash the turkey inside and out under cold clean running water and trim any visible excess fat. The neck and giblets should be placed into the freezer for later use in gravy or dressing. Once the brine is below 38 degrees you can safely add your turkey and place into a refrigerator for a minimum of four days, five days if your turkey is above 13 pounds. The bird needs to be FULLY submerged the whole time. You can use a plate that has a slightly smaller diameter than the bucket to place on the bird to keep it from floating, another cool trick is to fill a gallon zip-lock bag full of water and place on the plate. It is during this time that your turkey will "cure", this process then allows you to smoke safely at lower temperatures.

After your turkey is fully cured(4-5 days) remove it from the brine and rinse VERY well, again under cold running water, failure to thoroughly rinse it could result in your turkey being just a little too salty. Preheat your smoker to 130 degrees. Once that step is completed it is time to dry the bird, so grab a few paper towels and blot all of the excess moisture, inside and out. In order to get a pretty, even colored skin once the bird is completed the turkey needs to be as dry as possible.

This is an important step if you want a nice looking turkey, place the dry bird into a stockinette bag. The netting of these bags keeps the legs and wings tight against the body and can be purchased cheaply from the "Sausage Maker".
Now it is time to place your turkey into the 130 degree pre-heated smoker, with the dampers wide open to allow all of the moisture to escape, hold at this temperature for one hour with no smoke.

 After one hour start introducing smoke and try and hold at 130 degrees if possible for another 3 hours. This process is where the skin fully dries out and starts to absorb color.

We prefer to use Alder chips when smoking turkeys after experimenting with different woods in the first few years. Hickory wood gives the bird too much of a ham flavor so we try and avoid any strong smelling woods to keep the turkey with a clean smoky flavor. Besides, nothing "says" the Pacific Northwest as well as Alder smoke.

 Next increase your smoker temperature to 165 degrees and shut your dampers down to 1/4 open while continuing to add smoke for the next 12-14 hours, after this your bird will not absorb much more smoke anyway.
 Once you reach 140 degrees internally in the middle of the breast crank your smoker up to 170-180 and hold until you can get a reading above 160 degrees in the breast and 165 degrees in the thighs. The length of this time all depends on the size of your bird. It could be anyway between 2-6 hours. Once done, remove your turkey and coat the entire bird with a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil to help soften the skin, rest for 30 minutes and EAT UP!!!!

Because of the long curing process and low temperature smoking the meat will have a really nice pink color through-out. The amount of moisture remaining in the turkey is breath-taking. And for the bonus, WOW, Smoked Turkey Sandwiches!!!!!



  1. Thanks for the recipe Mike! it's too late for this turkey but there are a few coming up. :)

  2. She came back a minute later and told us those one of the two meats was also out. Food Truck catering