Happy Thanksgiving

Every year I have cooked our family’s turkey for Thanksgiving. I have done the whole gamut, from oven roasting, deep fried, to obviously smoking them. Some years I have injected the bird where most recently I have switched to brining the bird. I recommend brining since turkey is so lean and will be in the smoker for about 4-5 hours and the extra moisture provided from brining will go a long way to producing a tender, juicy bird.
Brining is the process of soaking the turkey (or other meats and veggies) in a salt water solution that will be absorbed into your bird via osmosis. I prefer this method because I am able to also put in other herbs/spices to flavor the bird. With injections I have run into trouble with the spices clogging the actual injector because the needle you use to inject is not big enough for the spices to inject through. Brining has its downsides since it will have to be refrigerated for hours and it can be messy if you do not have the space. Here are a few tips to make this process easier:
First, we live in Michigan and if you have not noticed it’s pretty cold outside (below 42 degrees) and I usually brine my bird in a 5 gallon bucket that I put out in a remote corner of my garage. If you have trouble finding a 5 gallon bucket they sell them at your local home depot, just make sure that you get one that is food grade (someone from Home Depot will be glad to help you find one). I usually will make the brine on Monday so that its cold enough to not cook the bird while it’s brining. On Wednesday morning I will out the bird in the bucket with the bird before I leave for work that morning and pull it out Thursday morning an hour before I put it in the smoker. I set up a card table and I prep my bird out in the garage so clean up is a breeze. Plus I usually have the smoker in the garage since it’s so cold so transferring the bird is a snap.
I have used quite a few different recipes for brine over the years and they were all pretty successful. I have used a buttermilk brine, a cranberry juiced based one, plus a simple salt/sugar recipe that was a breeze. In the video I used a maple whiskey brine that turned out really well and I will include this at the end of the blog. This brine was a little on the sweet side so I used a rub of kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper and a little thyme. I liberally coated the bird with the salt and then I would add as much black pepper as you personally like (I love black pepper and I usually do a 50/50 blend of salt and pepper). For the thyme I would use about half as much as you did with the salt/pepper. This will add a savory flavor that will work well with the brine and you will be the talk of your Thanksgiving Day Feast.
I smoke my bird at 225 degrees for about 3 hours then I will up the temp to 275 degrees for the next hour or so I can crisp up the skin and limit the cooking time to ensure that I have a juicy bird. Obviously, the times will vary depending on the size of the bird, this is what I followed in the video with great results on an 11 lb. bird.
The white meat (breast) will cook slower than the dark meat (legs/thighs) and if that happens I will cover the legs with aluminum foil so that they are done about the same time. I am looking for 180 degrees for the dark meat and 165 for the white meat (take your temps in the deepest part of each trying to stay away from the bones (bones heat up faster than the meat giving you a false reading fi you are not careful).
If you have any questions about how long to smoke your bird, or recipe ideas to make your bird the hit of the party please leave comments on our Facebook page, we would love to hear what everyone is doing for this Holiday.

Maple Whiskey Brine
4 quarts water divided
1 cup Soy Sauce
1 cup Maple Syrup
¾ cup Sea Salt
8 cloves garlic
6 bay leaves
1 TBS Dried Thyme
2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 cup Sour Mash Whiskey

Place 2 quarts of water in a large pot over medium heat, and stir in brown sugar, soy sauce, maple syrup, sea salt, garlic cloves, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, peppercorns, and whiskey. Stir to dissolve brown sugar and salt; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining 2 quarts of water. Allow brine to cool completely before using

Types of Smokers



How do you enter to win this amazing smoker? Good question and lucky for you we have quite a few different ways to enter. First, go to our page www.facebook.com/FinleysAmericanGrill and like this page first, this enters you into the contest initially. Second, if you go to any of our local pages and like any of these pages you will be entered for each like as well. Thirdly, comment on any of the posts/videos and you will also be entered, each comment will enter you in as well. This is where you can get access to some of our secrets (how long do we smoke our briskets, what kind of rubs do we use, how do we smoke our ribs etc.) and this is a great place to share your approach to bbq. Maybe you have a fool proof way to smoke a pork shoulder or you use a homemade rub on your wings that is to die for.
Let’s talk about the Traeger and how it works and why we picked this one to giveaway. This smoker is really easy to use and produces consistent results time after time. With the Traeger you just set the dial to the desired temp and it will maintain that temp until you turn it off. You use hardwood pellets to produce your smoke, you will have to keep an eye your pellets to make sure you don’t run out during a long smoke. That’s pretty much it. If you can follow a recipe you will produce amazing results and you are not chained to your smoker all day lie the ones that we will describe below. As far as ease of use, quality of finished product and the fact that you can set it up and let do all of the hard work for you, there really wasn’t a better choice. Traeger offers great bbq without all of the hard work that goes with a traditional stick burner
You might have heard of a Stick Burner? This smoker burns hardwood to produce heat and smoke. The benefit to that is you produce the best quality smoke for your bbq (more on this in a latter blog). In a traditional offset smoker the firebox and the smoke stack are on opposite sides. It’s a very primitive design that produces great results, but can be hard to do for hours on end and takes some time to get used to controlling temps. In all good bbq you have to control your temps for hours (up to 18 for briskets) and the way to control your temp is the size of the fire. This takes time to learn/ perfect and also time to produce. If I have the time nothing is more relaxing than working my stick burner at home, except the better half isn’t a fan that “I have to watch this all day and can’t do much of anything else.”

Reverse flow smokers are pretty much like an offset except the firebox and the stack are on the same side. The smoke goes from the firebox into the cooking chamber and then reverses back out the stack. This is done to have a more even temp across the whole cooking chamber. The pros and cons for this smoker are pretty much the same as an offset. Produces great smoke for flavoring your food and takes some skill and lots of time.

Smokers like a Southern Pride, an electric controlled gas fired rotisserie, are great for producing quality in large quantities. These produce consistent temps, can cook up to 500 lbs. of meat and we are able to set it and not have to worry about till the timer goes off. Now you won’t get the same quality smoke as you would in an offset smoker, but it’s pretty darn close. Also, anyone can really use this without much training, just a willingness to follow a recipe.

More importantly we want to hear from you. Which smoker do you use? What type of smoker would you love to have at home? Have a question about rubs, types of wood, different cuts of meat? Use the comment section below and each comment that you leave will also enter you to win our contest.

Wing Marinade
Simple Syrup – recipe listed below
½ gallon Orange Juice
½ Cup Soy Sauce
TBS minced garlic
TBS Crushed Red Pepper
This recipe will marinade 10 lbs. of chicken wings at a time
Simple Syrup
1 cup Sugar
I cup Water
Combine water and sugar and heat almost to a boil while stirring every 30 sec. or so. This syrup is done once all of the sugar has dissolved

Orange Mustard BBQ Sauce
2 qt. Yellow BBQ Sauce – store bought will work fine, or if you have one of your own use that. I have used Cattleman Gold before and it works great
½ cup Honey
Zest of one Orange
½ cup Orange Juice
Heat bbq sauce on med. High heat and add all ingredients stirring until everything has dissolved. Should take about 5 min.
I like to add sriracha sauce to mine so it’s sweet and spicy. Just add a little at a time to your liking if you want a little heat to this sauce.

Citrus Wings
Wing marinade
10 lbs. chicken wings
Rub – store bought will work fine – I will add a basic rub that will work if you want to make your own
Wing Procedure – make marinade ahead and chill before using. Marinade wings overnight in a zip lock container. Wings should marinade for at least 8 hours.
Remove wings more marinade and sprinkle rub evenly over all sides of the wings. Place in smoker at 275 degrees for an hour. After an hour glaze wings with Orange BBQ Sauce and cook for another 15 min. Wings will be done once they reach 170-180 degrees.

Rub Recipe
Ingredients 1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar 1/2 Cup Paprika 2-1/2 TBS Course (Salad Grind) Black Pepper 1-1/2 tsp Chili Powder 1-1/2 TBS Garlic Powder 1-1/2 TBS Onion Powder 1 tsp Cayenne (Red Pepper) 2 TBS Kosher Salt

Combine all ingredients and make sure there are no lumps. Store in air tight container, good for a few weeks before it starts to clump together. Ingredients 1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar 1/2 Cup Paprika 2-1/2 TBS Course (Salad Grind) Black Pepper 1-1/2 tsp Chili Powder 1-1/2 TBS Garlic Powder 1-1/2 TBS Onion Powder 1 tsp Cayenne (Red Pepper) 2 TBS Kosher Salt Ingredients 1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar 1/2 Cup Paprika 2-1/2 TBS Course (Salad Grind) Black Pepper 1-1/2 tsp Chili Powder 1-1/2 TBS Garlic Powder 1-1/2 TBS Onion Powder 1 tsp Cayenne (Red Pepper) 2 TBS Kosher Salt

How to Enter and Win a Traeger Smoker

Contest Blog
traeger contest

What better way to get in the holiday spirit than to give away a brand new smoker in time for the holiday season? Not only that, we picked what we feel to be the top smoker in it's category. From its quality of build, ease of use and the fact it produces top quality bbq with the press of a button, the winner of this bad boy will be the talk of his/her neighborhood. Since we have used every type of smoker imaginable, anything from a traditional offset stick burner to a gravity fed pellet smoker, or the gas fired ellectric controlled behemoth we use in our restaurants, we know smokers. Lucky for you we are going to go into detail about how to get the best results from the Traeger we are giving away and touch on a different bbq topic each week until we give it away on Dec. 21st via live video on Facebook.

How do you enter the contest? Like and/or comment on any of our Facebook pages after Nov. 8th and enter yourself into our giveaway for a Traeger Smoker. Pretty simple right? Each week we will have a different video/blog talking about why rubs are important, why trimming might be the most important skill you can use to ensure quality results, or our approach to bbq in general. We encourage you to respond and tell us what you think, ask questions, or share what you do at home. Each time you do, it enters you again in the contest.

Contest Rules

You gain entry into the contest by liking any of our posts from Nov.8th thru Dec. 21st. If you like and/or comment on any additional post you will enter yourself into the contest again. Please feel free to comment as much as possible and we encourage everyone to ask questions or even have suggestions for future blogs or videos.
Who can participate
– You must live within 50 miles of any of our 4 locations to be eligible to win. However, anyone can still comment and/or like our page. Finley’s employees and immediate family will not be eligible to enter the contest.

Date and winner announcement
– We will hold a live drawing on Dec.21st where we will draw the winner live on Facebook. After the video we will contact the winner via Facebook Messenger.

This contest is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by Facebook and all entrants must release Facebook from any and all liability when entering this contest.