Tag Archives: smoking

Brined and Smoked Turkey Breast

Brined and Smoked Turkey Breast from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Thanksgiving confession time. Since my kids hate turkey, I was considering forgoing having one this year and just making a ham. However, since the folks at Mizkan and Holland House asked me to prepare a turkey brining recipe, I decided to go ahead and make one using a turkey breast since Paul and I were going to be the only ones eating it. (Lucie eventually decided that she did like it and had some.)

Since this turned out so well, I may forget about making beer can chicken and make brined and smoked turkey breast year round – not just for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The meat was incredibly juicy, moist and tender and incredibly flavorful. If you’re making a full turkey, go ahead and add a turkey breast to your Thanksgiving cooking plans so you have plenty of turkey breast meat for sandwiches and leftover dishes like Turkey Paninis or Rigatoni-Turkey Salad.

I used Holland House Sake Cooking Wine, along with Nakano All Natural Rice Vinegar and ginger to give my brine an Asian flare. To learn more about cooking wines, check out my Cooking Wine 101 infographic. Don’t forget Holland House cooking wines and vinegars for your Thanksgiving cooking needs this year! Check out their website for money saving coupons and recipes. Follow Holland House on Facebook for Thanksgiving cooking tips and recipes, too!

How to brine a turkey breast at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com


Brined and Smoked Turkey Breast from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Brined and Smoked Turkey Breast

Inspired by this recipe from Southern Living, November 2013 issue


  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 3/4 cup Holland House Sake Cooking Wine
  • 1/4 cup Nakano All Natural Rice Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sorghum syrup
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 bunch fresh chives
  • 3 fresh lemon thyme sprigs
  • 2 1-inch pieces of ginger, peeled
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 1 (5-6 pound) bone-in turkey breast


  1. Bring cider, Holland House Sake Cooking Wine, and next 8 ingredients to a boil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until salt and sorghum are dissolved. Remove pot from heat, stir in ice. Cover and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Place turkey in brine. (Brine should mostly cover turkey. If it doesn’t, find a smaller pot. If the turkey still isn’t fully covered, you’ll need to turn it over in the brine about half way through the process.) Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 5 to 12 hours. (Do not over brine your turkey or you’ll end up with salty meat!)
  3. Prepare your smoker according to manufacturer's directions, bringing internal temperature to 225 degrees F using your favorite type of wood chips.
  4. Remove turkey from brine, and pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey low in smoker and cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 165 to 170 degrees F.
  5. Remove turkey, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let stand 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
Prep Time: 5 Hours 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Hours
Total Time: 8 Hours 20 Minutes
Servings: Makes 8 to 10 servings
  • Serving size: 3/4 to 1/2 pound of turkey meat

Apple Ginger Marinade for Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Apple Ginger Marinade for Smoked Beer Can Chicken at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comWhile I love how easy it is to use premade World Harbors marinades for Smoked Beer Can Chicken, there’s something to be said for making your own marinade. First, you can control what goes into it, so if you have a food sensitivity you don’t need to worry about anything making you ill. Second, making your own marinade is very inexpensive, especially if you have most of the ingredients on hand.

Apple Ginger Marinade uses several items I always have in my pantry like NAKANO rice vinegar, soy sauce (gluten free tamari sauce, actually) and olive oil. The only ingredients I had to go to the grocery store for were for the fresh ginger and apple juice concentrate – and it was worth the effort. This is the best marinade I’ve ever made and the chicken was delicious and moist! I bet it would work for grilled or roast chicken as well as pork or fish.

I served it for guests along with Wine & Rosemary Couscous and Roasted Marinated Vegetables.

Apple Ginger Marinade for Smoked Beer Can Chicken at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Apple Ginger Marinade for Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Based on this recipe from Mizkan


  • 1/2 cup NAKANO Seasoned Rice Vinegar - Roasted Garlic
  • 1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 3 tablespoon gluten free tamari sauce
  • 3 tablespoons natural ketchup with no high fructose corn syrup
  • 1 piece (1x1-1/2 inches) fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon (grate the zest and juice the lemon)
  • 1 (2-3 pound) chicken


  1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Marinate chicken covered in refrigerator at least two hours and up to 24 hours. (I like marinating chicken in a Ziploc bag overnight.)
  3. Remove chicken from marinade and discard. You can boil marinade for several minutes, to use it as a basting sauce.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 2 Hours
Total Time: 2 Hours
Servings: Serves 4 to 6
  • Serving size: 1/2 pound per person

Save money with NAKANO

You can download a coupon for 50 cents off your next purchase of NAKANO rice vinegar here. Also, for more recipes using NAKANO rice vinegars, sign up for Mizkan’s Splash for Cash e-newsletter for a chance to win up to $600. (Mizkan is NAKANO’s parent company.)

You can connect with NAKANO online on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Disclosure: Mizkan, the parent company of NAKANO, provided compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

Brined Chicken Quarters from “Dadgum, That’s Good, Too!”

Brined-Chicken-QuartersI love using my Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, which is why I’m always on the lookout for smoking and grilling cookbooks like John McLemore latest book, “DADGUM That’s Good, Too!” John’s mission is to make it fun to cook up traditional Southern recipes like brisket, baby back ribs, Boston butt and more using Masterbuilt smokers, grills and indoor fryers. But his cookbook isn’t all about meat. He shares recipes for Southern classics like blackberry cobbler, shrimp and grits and gumbo, too.

John’s recipes are simple, straightforward and perfect for those new to smoking, grilling and frying. With the holidays here before you know it, this would be a great cookbook to help walk you through making turkey. “DADGUM That’s Good, Too!” contains recipes for Brined Whole Turkey, Dadgum Good Smoked Turkey, Garlic and Herb Deep-Fried Turkey, and Smokin’ Fried Turkey. Whatever way you prepare it, the turkey will be dadgum good, I guarantee! However, if you’re nervous about cooking a big turkey, practice on chicken first with this recipe for Brined Chicken Quarters.

This recipe benefits from two processes for the ultimate taste and texture. First, brining the chicken hydrates the meat and ensures a juicy result. Second, the smoking process infuses smoky flavor into the meat. Combining the seasonings and moisture from the brine with the low-and-slow smoking process makes for a perfect piece of chicken. Brushing the chicken quarters with olive oil helps the skin turn a nice golden brown, too.

Brined Chicken Quarters

Serves 8


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups molasses
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated peeled ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 gallons ice water
  • 4 chicken quarters
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Suggested wood: Apple


  1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, combine 2 cups water, molasses and salt. Bring to a boil until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ginger and garlic powder. Set aside and let cool.
  2. When mixture is cooled, stir in 2 gallons ice water, mixing well. Place each chicken quarter in a brining bag or oversized plastic bag. Pour brining mixture over each chicken quarter and place in a bowl. Refrigerate, turning once, for 6 to 8 hours. A plastic bucket that is deep enough to have the meat completely covered will also work.
  3. Preheat smoker to 225°F.
  4. Remove chicken from brine after at least 6 hours, and rinse thoroughly to remove any remaining salt. Pat dry and brush with olive oil. Place on middle rack of smoker and smoke for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove meat from smoker and enjoy!

Pictures and recipe courtesy of John McLemore and Masterbuilt.

Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website. I received a complimentary review book to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

Smoked Beer Can Chicken with Dry Rub

Beer Can Chicken with Dry Rub at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

You’ve heard of beer can chicken, right? You know, the recipe when you shove a can of beer up a chicken’s backside and grill it? Well, if you have a smoker, a few tools and World Harbors premade marinades, it’s even easier.

First, you need a smoker. I use a Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker. (You can read my smoker review here.) While you can simply use a beer can and perch your chicken on top, it’s so much easier to do some with a rack. I have two - Steven Raichlen Stainless-Steel Beer-Can Chicken Rack with Drip Pan and a KitchenAid BBQ Vertical Chicken Roaster. Both will hold the beer can in place so you don’t have to worry about the chicken getting knocked over.

Here’s what the chicken looks like on the racks (the two in the back). The one in the front is placed on top of the beer can, sans rack, and was propped up by one of the other chickens in our smoker.

Preparing Beer Can Chicken at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comThe method I use is based on a recipe from the Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook. I have a lot of barbecue cookbooks, but this one’s my favorite especially since it was recommended by an English friend who learned how to smoke meat when he went to school in Austin.

Tip: Save the chicken carcass and skin to make stock. There’s nothing better than smoky chicken stock in soups and turkey stuffing!

Beer Can Chicken with Dry Rub at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Smoked Beer Can Chicken with Dry Rub


  • 1 (3 1/2 pound) whole chicken
  • 1/4 cup dry rub of your choice
  • 1 can beer
  • 3 cups World Harbors marinade


  1. Remove the giblets and rinse the chicken cavity.
  2. Season the chicken inside and out with the rub. Press the rub on to the skin, too. Allow to sit for at least an hour on the counter top.
  3. Open the beer and empty half of it into the smoker’s drip pan.
  4. Refill the can with your favorite World Harbors marinade. I like Italian Grill, but Maine's Own Lemon Pepper & Garlic is also a good choice.
  5. Shove the can into the chicken cavity, and place on your beer can roaster if you’re using one.
  6. Set up your smoker for indirect heat. Use wood chips, chunks or logs to set up a good level of smoke. (Electric smokers use pellets. I chose Jack Daniels Wood Pellets, but you can use hickory, apple, mesquite or other woods that go well with chicken.)
  7. Maintain a smoker temperature of between 225 and 275 degrees F. (I set my smoker for 250 degrees.)
  8. Set the chicken on the grill on the beer can base, and cook for three hours. If you don’t use a dripping pan full of beer and water to “steam” the chicken, baste with more World Harbors marinade every hour.
  9. When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (about three to four hours), test for doneness by inserting a knife tip into the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done to medium. Note: the FDA recommends cooking to 185 degrees F. Many people find this overcooks and dries out the chicken, so use your best judgment.
  10. Remove the chicken and let sit for 20 minutes to let the juices “set.” Slice and serve.
Prep Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Hours
Total Time: 4 Hours 10 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4 to 6
  • Serving size: 1/2 pound per person

Save money and win with World Harbors

World Harbors is offering a $1 off coupon on Facebook. You can also enter World Harbors Golden Label Sweeps to win a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Finally, don’t forget to sign up for Mizkan’s Splash for Cash e-newsletter for a chance to win up to $600. (Mizkan is World Harbors parent company.) Even if you don’t win, you’ll receive a terrific e-newsletter filled with with recipes and tips.

Disclosure: Mizkan, the parent company of World Harbors, provided compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Finalizing the Thanksgiving 2011 menu: Smoked Agave-Dijon Brined Turkey Breast

turkey postcard

I love planning for Thanksgiving. Every year I buy all the cooking magazines I can find to come up with new recipes for turkey, stuffing, side dishes and dessert. Sometimes I bring new cookbooks into the mix, too. This year I’m doing things a bit differently as I’ve chosen to find recipes that will use up food I may already have in my pantry, freezer and refrigerator,

Why turkey breast and not a whole turkey?

This year’s turkey recipe was chosen to use up some of the Dijon mustard that’s crowing my refrigerator door. It’s based on a Betty Crocker recipe that I found in Recipe.com magazine. With a few tweaks, I’ve changed the turkey recipe to work with my food sensitivities – agave nectar instead of honey, for example. I’ll also be smoking instead of grilling my turkey for optimum yummy goodness.

I decided to make a turkey breast this year instead of a whole turkey on the off chance that it would just be me and the kids at the Thanksgiving table. It wasn’t until a week ago that I learned my husband is flying in from his new job in Massachusetts! Also, my mother in law is coming up from Colorado Springs instead of going to see her other son in California. It’s a small group, but perfect for the amount of cooking I want to do.

What else is on the Thanksgiving menu?

Along with the turkey breast I’ll be slow cooking a spiral cut ham. I’ll be making a gluten free version of my Crockery Ham with Beer Glaze recipe using hard cider instead of beer.

I’m also serving:

What are you cooking up for Thanksgiving?


  • 11 cups cold water
  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 bone-in whole turkey breast (5 to 6 pounds), thawed if frozen
  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic power
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. In 6-quart container or stockpot, stir water, agave nectar, Dijon mustard and salt until honey and salt are dissolved. Add turkey breast to brine mixture. Cover.
  2. Refrigerate at least 12 hours but no longer than 24 hours.
  3. Heat smoker to 225 -240 degrees F and be sure to have enough smoking wood to keep the smoke going for about 4 hours or so. (Smoking-Meat.com recommends 3 hours of cherry and 1 hour of pecan wood for optimum flavor.)
  4. Remove turkey from brine mixture. Rinse thoroughly under cool running water and pat dry. Discard brine.
  5. In small bowl, mix olive oil, dried marjoram, ground mustard, and pepper. Brush over turkey.
  6. Place the turkey directly on the grate breast side up. At around the 3 hour mark, insert a digital probe meat thermometer into the breast of the turkey to begin monitoring the internal temperature. Make sure the thermometer doesn’t touch bone or it will get a false reading.
  7. Once the breast reaches about 161-163 degrees, remove it from the smoker and immediately wrap it in a thick layer of heavy duty foil. Place the turkey in a couple of thick towels and lay it on the counter for about 30-45 minutes so the juices that were forced to the surface during the cooking process, redistribute throughout the meat. If you’re worried about the turkey getting cold, place it on a heating pad – seriously.
  8. Slice, serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 16 Hours
Total Time: 16 Hours 15 Minutes
Servings: 8 servings
  • Calories: 400
  • Calories from Fat: 160
  • Total Fat: 18g
  • Saturated fat: 4.5g
  • Unsaturated fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 460mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 5g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 54g
  • Cholesterol: 145mg

Fall grilling: Smoked Marinated Chicken

Fall grilling: Smoked Marinated Chicken at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com I just got an email reminder for my kids to place their online football picks for week 8. Week 8? Boy has football season gone quickly! Even so, it’s never too late (or too cold) to do some weekend grilling and barbecuing for the big game or a tailgate party.

Recently, I took advantage of our unseasonably-warm-for-Colorado weekend weather to cook up some chicken in our Masterbuilt electric smoker. It’s so easy to smoke a chicken that I don’t know why I don’t do it more often. (It probably has something to do with all that fish and venison in our freezer! Chicken’s a rare treat at my house.)

World Harbors marinades make smoking chicken easy

Using a premade marinade like those from World Harbors® makes the process even easier. This time around I used World Harbors Maui Mountain Teriyaki and World Harbors Maui Mountain Sweet 'N Sour to marinate a couple of chickens. (You can use any variety you like!) Combined with the smoke from the sugar maple wood I used, both birds turned out moist and delicious. If you have a smoker or know how to smoke chicken using a grill, the process is easy.

This Mama’s tips

  • Since most smokers are large enough do two or more birds at once, take advantage of the situation and smoke extra chicken(s). Eat one immediately while you’re watching football. The extra chicken is great the next day in salads, sandwiches, stir fry or soups or reheated in the oven or microwave.
  • I like smoking fish (lake trout is wonderful) while I’m smoking the chicken. I place the fish under the chicken so the chicken fat drips on to the fish. Decadent!
  • If you want your chicken to cook even faster, try spatchcocking it!
Fall grilling: Smoked Marinated Chicken at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Smoked Marinated Chicken


  • 1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pound fryer)
  • 1 bottle of World Harbors marinade of your choice
  • 1 sealable plastic baggie


  1. Remove giblets, liver and neck from chicken. (Set aside to make stock.)
  2. Place whole chicken in plastic bag.
  3. Pour in entire bottle of World Harbors marinade.
  4. Add some water if necessary so marinade completely covers the chicken.
  5. Seal bag and set in refrigerator overnight or for 24 hours. Turn bag once to evenly marinate chicken about half way through the process.
  6. Heat your smoker to 235 degrees F and add your favorite bird-friendly wood (apple, sugar maple, etc.)
  7. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Place the chicken in the smoker, breast side down to start. After 1 1/2 to 2 hours, turn it over to finish.
  8. Cook the chicken until it reaches 160 degrees F. Make sure to check the temperature of chicken at the meatiest part of the breast between the bones.
  9. Remove the chicken from the smoker and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Prep Time: 24 Hours
Cook Time: 2 Minutes
Total Time: 26 Hours
Servings: Serves 4 to 6
  • Serving size: 1/2 pounds of meat per person

Disclosure: Mizkan, the parent company of World Harbors, provided compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.