Operation Smoke Everything: The Thanksgiving Extravaganza

I read a great, very true blog post the other day by Steve Heimoff, whose main note was that wines shouldn’t be the focal point of Thanksgiving–food should be.

To Steve I say, it damn well was at my house, where a 20lb turkey and the novelty of a smoker turned our meal (and several leftover meals) into a smoke-infused fiesta with everything from turkey to empanadas to brownies being locked in a metal box in my backyard to cook in a swath of smoke.

Read on for the adventure (or misadventure depending on your palate), with a full goblet of vino.


This turkey tasted like Boar’s Head on steroids. And the color was awesome. Juicy, smoky, tender and essentially everything you want on the table at Thanksgiving. With generous piles of all the other good stuff, we enjoyed a nutty and strong Le Ragosse Valpolicella Ripasso from Venezia (read: a Northern Italian red made from partially dried grapes).


Yes, you can bake things in a smoker. Impatient as ever, my cousin and I couldn’t bear the thought of our rolls not being ready in time for dinner (after fussy yeast wasn’t rising fast enough) we tossed our hand made rolls in right after the turkey.

The results, slightly blackened but incredibly delicious bread that tasted like, well, dinner rolls (which we considered a victory). Dotted with poppyseeds and rosemary, munching them alongside the super floral and surprisingly peppery Claiborne and Churchill California Gewurztraminer was our favorite midnight meal.

Turkey Empanadas.

Before the holiday, I’d been gifted a bottle of Clos de los Siete, a red Argentine blend, accompanied by a recipe to “Shake up Thanksgiving Leftovers” with turkey empanadas. Since humans are hardwired to love puff pastry and I love wine, I just had to give these a shot. (half in the oven, half in the smoker naturally.)

The smoker won again here, giving our oddly-shaped dumplings an intense smoky flavor. The wine wasn’t our favorite, especially since it turned the empanada filling bright purple–a little jarring for the faint of heart.  Though we preferred the empanadas with a glasses of Georges duBoeuf Beaujoulais Nouveau as opposed to the Clos de la Siete, the empanadas were a great alternative to turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches.


And this is where smoking really didn’t produce ideal results. Rock hard edges (they didn’t break when dropped from an altitude of 5 feet) segued into what was essentially a raw center–but only half of the center. Totally edible if you don’t mind raw eggs, I wouldn’t recommend testing this out, but after a bottle of fruity, blueberry and blackberry-dominated, La Cartuja Priorat smoking everything seems like a great idea (Just like calling raw brownies lava cake).


Cheers, and Smoke Everything.


  • November 29, 2012
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