Plan for longer cooking time if you intend to smoke a turkey this Thanksgiving
Thanks in large part to a global pandemic that has lasted for much of 2020, Thanksgiving figures to be celebrated a little differently this year than in years past. Family gatherings may not be as large and highways may not be as heavily trafficked as they are on what is normally one of the year's biggest weekends for travel. In addition to smaller gatherings, many families may opt to host Thanksgiving dinner outdoors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the COVID-19 virus spreads very easily through person-to-person contact, and the risk of spreading the virus is even greater when spending time indoors with other people. As a result, some families are planning to host Thanksgiving dinner outdoors on their patios or decks this year. That decision has prompted some to consider different ways of cooking their Thanksgiving turkeys, including smoking. Smoking has long been associated with cooking foods like brisket at home, but smokers also can be used to make delicious Thanksgiving turkeys. Thanksgiving hosts who want to smoke their turkeys outdoors this year are urged to take a few trial runs and watch some online tutorials before trying their hand at smoking. Smoking relies heavily on controlling temperatures, which can fluctuate dramatically and quickly inside a smoker. As a result, smoking a turkey may require simple but frequent adjustments to dampers so the temperature inside can remain steady at around 225 F. Hosts who suspect they will be busy hosting or preparing side dishes on Thanksgiving may want to cook their turkeys in more traditional ways, such as baking the bird in the oven.Those who can devote the time to controlling the temperature on their smokers also should know that the turkey will take much longer to cook in a smoker than in an oven. According to the online grilling resource Heygrillhey.com, cooks should plan to smoke their turkeys at 225 F for approximately 30 minutes per pound. That means smoking a 15-pound turkey will require at least 7.5 hours cooking time. That's a significant factor to consider for people who want to host Thanksgiving dinner outdoors this year. In order to avoid serving smoked turkey after the sun has gone down and temperatures have dipped, Thanksgiving hosts may need to wake up especially early and fire up their smokers around the break of dawn if not earlier.