Not Your Usual Turkey Recipe: Smoked Turkey Necks
When it comes to your smoker, do other dudes bow to your expertise and show up at your yard early so they can snag tips from an expert? It happens. You develop a swagger after a perfectly smoked menu of meats inflates your ego as you leave the sides to others in your pursuit of mouth-watering turkey treats.
But your reputation won’t attain star status until you master the art of smoked turkey necks, a culinary sensation that delights discriminating taste buds. You’ve got a reputation to uphold (or perhaps launch), so mind if we take you through the steps required to establish your domination over these often-neglected bird parts? Turkey breast or even a whole turkey isn't something you can surprise people with anymore, but turkey necks?
We’ll take that as an enthusiastic yes before we discuss the gear you need to do justice to this part of the turkey. Next, we invite you to make our recipe for smoked turkey necks part of a repertoire that earns you an apron that reads, “Smokin’ Hot Grill Stud.” Ready to talk turkey?
Before The Bird: The Tools
We don’t have to tell you that having the right tool for the right job is a truism you learned from the day you stood in awe at your dad’s impressive tool collection. Culinary adventures are equally dependent upon being equipped to handle the job, so if you don’t already own a turkey smoker or the tools necessary to turn that smoker from a cooking tank to a purveyor of delicious menus, stop reading right now and go shopping.
Allow us to match your personality with the perfect pick from these 7 smoker types:
- Get a kettle-style smoker if you’re just earning your “wings” and don’t have a fortune in your bank account.
- Stove-top or hand-held models make sense if your apartment neighbors have threatened lawsuits based on your previous barbecuing “experiences.”
- Treat yourself to a ceramic komado-style or offset smoker that shows the world you’ve got game (literally and figuratively).
- Spoiler alert: an electric, gas or pellet grill makes a big statement about the way you treat yourself.
- Go big or go home with a process-oriented smoker or a product of this ilk that reflects your all or nothing at all attitude.
- Home-built smokehouses can be so impressive, guys have been known to sleep in hammocks to stay close to their babies.
- Got about ten grand that’s wasting away in a CD? Go for a competition or commercial smoker and you can become party central in your community.
Having spent serious bucks on your smoker, you’ll be happy to know that you can gear up without having to get a second mortgage on your home. The following best-selling products can help you smoke like a pro!
- Skip the task of buying individual items by snagging a smoker kit that includes a mat, gloves and rib rack.
- Invest in a 30-inch, nonstick smoker mat that tackles fish, meat, veggies and those turkey necks.
- Approach your smoker emulating The Hulk wearing heat-resist Kevlar and silicone-insulated gloves.
- Spice things up with a selection of wood smoking pellets so if you don’t like the first one, you’ve got backup.
- A digital electric smoker stand can make you the envy of your crowd (which means they’ll be over more often).
- Little things mean a lot when it’s time to handle meat, so get the best claws you can find.
- You don’t have to confess that the secret behind your smoking success is having a proper smoking guide. You can hide it if you don't want to fess up.
- Speaking of hiding, put your smoker to bed after it’s performed like a pro by covering it with smoker cover.
- Choose from among wire brushes to clean your smoker quickly and thoroughly.
Step-by-Step Instructions For Smoked Turkey Necks
Would we be repeating the obvious if we told you that your first task requires a visit to the grocery store? Of course, if you love buying stuff on the Internet, you can find great pricing online--as long as you don’t mind frozen turkey necks. But if you’re a purist and require your meat to be a fresh as the moment it left the meat-packing plant, it's your call. Ready to follow our easy turkey neck smoking steps? The cooking time isn't long, so don't skip any!
Step #1: Heat things up
Even though this is a smoking recipe, the cook time actually isn't that long, but even with that, follow these steps one by one to get the best turkey necks! Heat your smoker to 275-degrees F after closing the vents so the appliance can do its job properly.
Step #2: Make the marinade
Take all of the credit for mixing up a batch of marinade that’s relatively simple: Lea & Perrins sauce, malt vinegar, Tony Chachere's More Spice Seasoning and a little olive oil or vegetable oil. Add a bit of kosher salt, black pepper, brown sugar or garlic powder to taste. Mix everything in cold water. You’re the alchemist, so mix amounts that satisfy your taste buds.
Step #3: Give those turkey necks some swim time
Allow the meat to absorb all of these flavors while the smoker gets up to speed. If you like your necks saturated with flavor, make the marinade the night before and allow the meat to soak all night.
Step #4: Time to smoke turkey necks
With paper towels pat the necks dry and transfer the necks to the smoker on a roasting pan, open the vents and get this party started by arranging necks efficiently so each one gets an equal amount of exposure to the smoke.
Step #5: Check in on dinner
Allow the necks to bask in their smoky chamber for half an hour before you close down the vent(s) by 50-percent. While you’re there, lower the box temperature from 275- to 180-degrees F.
Step #6: Time for another peek
Check again at the half hour mark to make sure the necks are cooking evenly. In total, the smoke time should come to no more than two hours before you remove the meat.
Step #7: Want to add chips to the process?
If you want to add chips to enhance the taste of your turkey necks even more, don’t be shy. Whether you soak and smoke or just want subtle accents of the wood chips you choose, it’s all good. Applewood is a good place to start!
Don’t forget the side dishes
Given the TLC you’ve given to the smoking of your best turkey necks, it’s important to come up with tasty sides that complement your main course rather than competing with it. We’ve trolled recipe books and come up with recommendations-—at least one of which is bound to resonate with you, if only because your mom told you that you’ve got to eat your veggies!
- Conventional wisdom says that mashed potatoes (white or sweet) make a perfect pairing.
- Pretend it’s Thanksgiving (it may be!) and go with traditional sides like bread stuffing and green bean casserole.
- Channel southwest vibes by preparing corn pudding or corn sautéed with green chilies.
- Get fancy by braising red cabbage with onions, apples, cinnamon and cloves.
- Smoke Brussel sprouts to accompany your turkey necks. Even the kids will eat ‘em!
And the beverages
If you’ve already stocked the ‘fridge with your favorite brew because you know it’s going to pair nicely with your smoked turkey necks, you’ve done your duty. On the other hand, if you’re a grilling snob and wear the title like a badge of honor, it can’t hurt to stock up on 4 wines that are most often mentioned when experts are asked the question, “What best compliments smoked turkey?”
- Pinot noir
- Sauvignon blanc
Whether you’ve got a big honkin’ smoker for the first time or you’re improvising with the faithful Weber dome you’ve been babying for years, your adventure into smoking turkey necks can be as fun and entertaining as you care to make it. Once you’ve tried your hand at turkey neck grilling, you can begin to experiment with wood chips and other basting and marinating formulas. You’re going to become a convert! Smoking a whole turkey for a Thanksgiving dinner is a tradition, but if you're willing to try something new, you can definitely make your smoked turkey necks the star of your table.
Having shared with you our turkey neck smoking expertise, we can’t rest on our laurels without knowing that you’ve learned plenty from this tutorial, having compared the size of your smoker to your ambitions and perhaps adding to your library of barbecue-style cutlery and tools. Your feedback (and we use the word literally) is always invited—and if it happens to be imprinted with your marinade-stained fingerprints, we’ll consider that the biggest honor of all.
We don’t mind saying that the amount of satisfaction we get from sharing information that enriches your life and feeds your stomach and your palate is boundless. Toward that end, we sure hope you share the wealth by sending this article to friends and neighbors who share your passion for outdoor cooking adventures of the smoky kind. Chances are excellent that they will invite you over to taste their smoked turkey necks down the road, now that you've inspired them to greatness!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do You Do with Turkey Neck and Giblets?
Don’t throw away your turkey neck and giblets! These off cuts are so full of flavor if you know how to cook them right. Many people use them to make giblet gravy, but you can actually eat the turkey neck as-is if you roast it or smoke it. There is a surprising amount of meat on those bones!
How Do You Cook Turkey Neck?
There are a few different ways to cook a turkey neck. You can use it to make a turkey stock, which can be used as the base for your Thanksgiving gravy. Or, you can roast it in the oven and serve it with roasted vegetables. Our favorite way to cook turkey necks, though, is to smoke them. They get a rich, deep flavor that just can’t be beat!
Can You Eat Smoked Turkey Necks?
So long as you cook the meat on the turkey neck until it reaches 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, turkey necks are super safe to eat. The meat is rich and tender and it has a great dark-meat flavor.
What Can You Do With Smoked Turkey Necks?
You can eat smoked turkey necks outright, just like you would eat a smoked turkey leg. Or, you can use it in place of smoked sausage in your favorite recipes. Pork and beans, stews, or Cajun gumbo come to mind. The dish will still be just as full-flavored and smoky as if you used sausage, but the lean turkey neck will be much healthier for you than fatty pork.
How Long Does it Take to Cook a Turkey Neck?
If you’re boiling a turkey neck, it should take about an hour for the meat to become tender. It takes a little bit longer on a smoker, but it shouldn’t take any longer than two hours to smoke a turkey neck.