Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

A Superior Respite: Tasty Licks Pecan Smoked Turkey

Way up north where the sun is barely felt, we made our way, my bride and I. A little get-away from the cliché urban rat race, and the ever-whirling societal cog. A time together and alone, along the Lake Superior coast, in which to unwind, listen to the waves gently lap, and muse at length over what ever else struck our fancy that day. It was good to get out. We strolled along the arctic-like shoreline, in one of the shore’s little fishing hamlets, jackets zipped up tight, admiring the many ice formations there, and yet, courtesy of the lake’s massive thermal inertia, how it’s waters remained fluid and resplendent.



I am no Ansel Adams, not by any means, but I rather fancied how this photo turned out. It was by all accounts and stature, a cloudy, over-cast, cold-to-the-bone sort of day. But in a flip of shutter, lo, the sunbeams did fall from a gray sky, glittered across the bay, and illuminated the ice before my feet. It was beautiful people. Sights patron to a great lakes winter. And for a while at least, you didn’t even notice the cold, and furthermore, you felt sort of privileged just to be there. Seized in the moment. This is nice, I thought. We should eat!

I had brought along on the trip some smoked turkey I had done up the weekend last, and we had been nibbling on it through out our journey in the north. There is something about smoked meat on the shore of a cold lake, with icebergs drifting by, that just feels right. Something partial and abiding with the soul. And as we tarried there snacking on the turkey, eyes drawn to narrow slits in the bright, sparkling light, I was reminiscent of how it went and came to be, this bird back home. It was kind of a fun cook, tho all endeavors at the grill are. Let’s go back in a time just a little, shall we, and I’ll tell you more about it.


One Week Prior

Whilst the pit was coming up to speed, I first rubbed a 13 pound turkey with a little soy sauce. I find soy sauce tends to add a most agreeable turkey4flavor to the end game, least wise with poultry. Then I hit the bird over with a good smattering of Tasty Licks Traditional Turkey Rub.  I’ve used it before over the years, and it’s fairly good stuff, designed specifically for turkey. Not sure how they do that, but they do.

So it was with a great, and unbridled enthusiasm I placed the gobbler breast-side up, on a roasting pan for to catch the drippings of course, and further, to elevate the turkey up higher into the path of the smoke. A nice little system should you have the appropriate roasting pan that you don’t mind donating to the smokey sciences. Or, simply do not tell your wife.

turkey 3


The enormous dome was thus plunked onto the Weber Smokey Mountain, and things were set in motion. I admired how the golden rays of the afternoon soon dropped slantwise from a cold, January sky, and the wood smoke gently spiraled aloft. The wood we used this time around was pecan. A wonderful, slightly nutty wood that which compliments dead birds with aplomb. If you are lucky enough to have a pecan tree in your back yard, and favor the BBQ arts,  you already know this. For us mere mortals however, you might be lucky to find some pecan wood in the grilling section of your local hardware store. Or you could order some online, I suppose. Pecan wood is good mojo tho. Very good!


We let the turkey smoke approximately 4 hours, at 250 degrees. This is of no hardship, either, to a patron of the pit. 4 hours is just right, in point of fact. 4 hours gives you just enough time to watch one NFL playoff football game. Consume two or three lovely beverages, and partake in one glorious, hour-long nap in your man chair. It was perfect. And so was the turkey! You’re supposed to bring the bird to an average of 165 internal, and that’s what every one will tell you I guess. But we brought ours to 160 degrees in spite of it all, and then foiled it, and then put it in a cooler for another hour to rest. During the rest is where the magic happens, where the turkey continues to cook, and the juices redistribute at the same time. The end game – lets just say, is a pecan-scented, walk-off, culinary home run. Man! Get your bibs out people. Consume it accordingly, and wipe thy bidding’s clear of your chin! Even take some with you on your next excursion to the prettier places. It’s all good, and worth every minute, patron to the pit. Amen.



31 responses

  1. the turkey looks sensational! And such a way with words as always… I think you should release a book on tape version of PotP

    January 28, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    • There ya go! We’d have to find some one with a good speaking voice tho, to read it. Many thanks gusfacegrillah!

      January 28, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      • Morgan Freeman, or too over used?

        February 2, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      • I would only be so honored !

        February 2, 2015 at 5:14 pm

  2. Nice photos!! I cannot believe David hasn’t made me a smoked turkey as much as he talked about it at one time. Pecan smoke?!? Never had it…

    January 28, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    • Yes, David needs to give you the bird! What’s up with that fellow! Oh yes, pecan wood is probably in my top 5 favorite smoke woods. I think half of it is I just like how it sounds. It does add a lovely flavor tho.

      Thank you!

      January 28, 2015 at 5:10 pm

  3. Gorgeous post. Love the photo and the bird. Out of interest did you brine your turkey first? In the lead up to Christmas each year there’s a running debate chez nous – to brine or not to brine.

    January 28, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    • No brine this time around. Tho the debate runs strong here too, which leads me to believe its good both ways. We’ve brined before, and loved it. Done it sans brine, and loved it that way too. I guess I just love turkey. Thank you kindly!


      January 28, 2015 at 6:05 pm

  4. Ansel Adams or not, I loved the shadows and contrast in your picture of the great lake they call Gitche gumee. I feel a bit bad though having today posted pictures of the river near our home in summer heat and blazing Ecuadorian sunshine. But, like you said, there is beauty in all corners of God’s green earth. We are just some of the lucky ones who see and appreciate it.

    I too love smoked turkey. Yours looks great.

    Have a great day, my friend. JandM

    January 28, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    • Thank you kindly, John and Mary. Yeah every once in a while the shutter flips favorably, doesn’t it. I love it up there, even in the winter. A whole other sort of beauty in the winter season. It’s cold, but beauty is not governed by temperature. Besides, your Ecuadorian river photos warmed me up just fine. You certainly seem to have a good time down there.

      Thanks John!

      January 28, 2015 at 9:52 pm

  5. laurie27wsmith

    First things first, thanks for your thoughtful post on my blog yesterday. Secondly, what a great picture of Lake Superior,*envy* that ice looks epic. Now I haven’t been here for a while hence the keyboard on my laptop has finally dried from the accumulated drool of past posts. This turkey started it up again. Thanks! btw I’m slapping a couple of steaks on the barbie for dinner.

    January 28, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    • First thing first then, it was my pleasure, Laurie. Secondly, a big steak is good for what ails you! I bet that hit the spot. Hit it right fine indeed. And yeah, Lake Superior is probably the most impressive of lakes. In winter I think even more so. I really like how that photo turned out too. If I can do more like that I may even be able to compete with you!

      Thanks Laurie, and take care down there.

      January 28, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      • laurie27wsmith

        Pleasantries out of the way, it was a bloody good steak. It’s even better when you have a decent bbq. mate that shot was great, it actually reminded me of walking on the beach in winter back in England. I remember big hunks of ice washing up on the beach, brr. I love pics that fall into place, it makes you warm inside. Mine are okay, I surprise myself at times though.
        Look after yourselves and don’t freeze. Cheers,

        January 29, 2015 at 4:04 am

  6. Dr. Big Head

    As a displaced Minnesotan living in the Southwest, I can readily attest to the merits of pecan for most anything you would entrust to the pit. The local pecan orchards provide a nearly endless supply of pit-ready wood. I have come to prefer it to the more ubiquitous mesquite

    January 29, 2015 at 10:44 am

    • Welcome and howdy there, formerly of Minnesota! Sounds like you have moved to a right-fine location concerning smoke woods. You have my envy! Yes, pecan wood seems not as in your face nor as bold as mesquite, which makes it a useful smoke for a vast cornucopia of meats. I certainly rank it right up there among the best.

      Take care, and thanks for chiming in!

      January 29, 2015 at 3:03 pm

  7. Lovely prose as usual. Good to see turkey getting some love outside of the confines of the holidays. Quick question – I may have asked you this before but my memory is feeble so I’ll ask it again. Which writer (alive or dead) do you find inspires you to take up a pen (or at least bang on a keyboard)? I’m partial to Ernest Hemmingway and your style seems similar.

    January 29, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    • Thanks Mr Quincho, I love these questions!
      I have at times, in the writings here, included subtle head nods to Hemmingway. Indeed, I have admired his word craft for years, and I suspect he has been one of the influencers. A writers style is often a collection of many influences, as you know, and I wouldn’t be surprised if old Earnest is one of them.
      Others that have come to mind over the years are, Horace Kephart, who wrote Woodcraft and Camping. I remember reading him at a young and impressionable age, and I think my writing tended to mimic him then, and sort of evolved from there, influenced by yet more heroes.

      I don’t know if you recall him or not, but his name was Charles Kuralt. He did an “on the road”segment for the CBS news. At first he was just a gypsie to me, living the travelers life in a motor home. But after a while, I fell in love with his writing style, and today I often see his rhythms surface in my own style. Seems like anyways.

      Might I ask the same question back at you? For your writing style I have found very much palatable! I love it.


      January 29, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      • Ahh. Kuralt! I have one of his books (I think it was “On the Road with Charles Kuralt”). As I mentioned I love Hemmingway and am right partial to John Gierach (A fly fisherman that wrote “Trout Bum” and “Sex, Death and Fly Fishing”) and of course Mark Twain. Good Americana floats my boat. Thanks for the compliment, I’ll endeavor to deserve it.

        January 29, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      • Oh yes, Gierach! I dunno if he influenced my style, but I have read just about all of his stuff. I gobble it up like good bbq. Best fly fishing writer in the business right now. Least my favorite anyways.

        I like you Mr Quincho. We get along!

        January 29, 2015 at 10:49 pm

  8. lovely as ever!

    January 30, 2015 at 7:31 am

  9. Tom

    Enjoy the blog guys. I do like turkey done in the BQ. I have brined and smoked before and can not wait to try this one!

    January 30, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    • Oh yes, turkey on the pit is pure smoking satisfaction. But then most things off the bbq are. Glad you’re enjoying the blog, Tom. Thanks for chiming in.


      January 30, 2015 at 5:55 pm

  10. I’ve never heard of a pecan smoke – but I’d LOVE to try it!

    February 1, 2015 at 11:08 am

    • Oh its good! You gotta find some pecan wood somewhere and try it!

      February 1, 2015 at 1:28 pm

  11. PotP, I would buy a framed print of that picture. Very nice. As for pecan, I had known the magic it can perform on beef a long time ago. It was only recently that I discovered what it can do to turkey. As a matter of fact, I was so impressed what it did to a turkey, I use pecan on competition chicken as well. Very good!

    February 2, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    • No kidding! Wow, well there ya go. If you’re using pecan in competitive BBQ, it surely must be good! Thanks Bill. Always a treat hearing from you. Take care, man.

      February 2, 2015 at 5:15 pm

  12. Liz

    I like! Smoked turkey is the best and you make it look easy. Funny how easy smoking and grilling are, but somehow it seems like more work than turning on a stove. Can’t think of a better way to cook meat. Did you get away to Duluth?

    February 12, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    • We did! Well past Duluth anyways, up to Grand Marias. A lovely getaway. Got a new cafe for you up there, called the Crooked Spoon. Very good. Good as Duluth Grill maybe. Check it out for sure if you’re ever up that way.

      Thanks Liz!

      February 13, 2015 at 12:14 pm

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