My family consumed two Greenberg Smoked Turkeys and a turducken over the Thanksgiving holiday. (There were 26 of us.) I didn’t know the fascinating story of the Greenberg Smoked Turkey until I read about it in my friend John T. Edge’s column in his New York Times. The Tyler, Texas turkey smoking operation turns out some 200,000 birds every holiday season and they’ve been at it for decades. As soon as I heard about it, I had to try one.
The mail order Greenberg Turkeys cost $50 each for two 12-pounders. The mail order turkeys are frozen before shipping. They were nearly black and extremely smoky-flavored with big veins of greenish seasoning that had been injected all through the meat. I wish I could say I loved the Greenberg turkeys. I was expecting them to be a lot better than the ones I smoke on the barbecue in my backyard. The seasoning was great–I think I’ll start using my Cajun injector to imitate it. But the bird was dry. For this flaw, I blame the freezing. We were celebrating at my brother’s place near Rockwall, less than an hour from Tyler–for a fairer comparison, I should have driven down there and picked up the turkeys myself. If you get them at the plant, I assume they aren’t frozen.
The best thing about the Greenberg turkey was the gumbo I made from the bones the next day. The stock was so smoke-flavored, I had to add a quart of chicken stock to tone it down a little. I made a copper-colored butter roux and added ten cups of chopped onions, celery and red peppers along with the leftover turkey cut into dice and a pound of andouille sausage. After a few hours of simmering, I served the bold gumbo in big bowls over mounds of leftover mashed potatoes. It was awesome. It tasted great over leftover sweet potatoes too.
I guess the moral of the story is: If you are going to buy a Greenberg Smoked Turkey, it’s worth driving to Tyler to get it. It’s cheaper that way too.