Smoked Turkey Thighs with Loaded Cauliflower Bake
Smoked Turkey Thighs - I personally love turkey anytime of the year. So to my surprise I was elated to find a Manager's Special at my local grocery store of turkey parts - Wings and Thighs. I'm not a big fan of turkey/chicken wings so I opted for the bone-in/skin-on thighs. I really prefer the turkey dark meat. Not only is the dark meat extremely tasty but it's very forgiving when smoked/cooked. Unlike the turkey breast white meat, which must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165º - 170ºF, the turkey dark meat needs to be taken to an internal temperature of 180ºF. But if your thighs go a bit beyond the 180ºF range it won't dry out the meat and will still be very tender.
It's very important to use bone-in/skin-on thighs versus boneless/skinless thighs. When smoking poultry/turkey the surface of the meat will become very though and leathery. Cooking bone-in/skin-on poultry/turkey prevents this and keeps the meat moist. Make sure to season under the skin for maximum flavor profiles.
Not only will you, your family, and friends enjoy a wonderful meal but you'll also find that it's very economical. These turkey thighs were not only huge but they were 99¢ per pound. When was the last time you paid 99¢ per pound for any kind of protein? Picked up 4 thighs and one hickory smoked thigh was more than enough for the two of us. Vacuum sealed the other 3 thighs for future use in a casserole, salad, or as a main dish. For under $5 we have enough turkey dark meat for 4 meals ... It doesn't get any better than this!!
Trim any excess fat and skin from turkey thighs. Peel back the skin and rub extra virgin olive oil under and on the skin. Season under and on the skin of the turkey thighs with Pete's Western Rub (you can find the rub recipe in my cookbook The Wood Pellet Smoker & Grill Cookbook) and McCormick Montreal Chicken seasoning or use your favorite poultry/turkey seasoning. My Pete's Western Rub is a great compliment to the Montreal Chicken seasoning. Wrap the seasoned turkey thighs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Preheat your wood pellet smoker-grill to 200ºF using Cookinpellets.com 100% Hickory pellets. Smoke the turkey thighs for 2 hours. Increase the grill temperature to 330ºF and pull the thighs when their internal temperature reaches 180ºF (about another hour). Rest the thighs loosely under a foil tent for 10 minutes before serving.
Loaded Cauliflower Bake Recipe -
Loaded Cauliflower Bake Ingredients:
- 1 large head of cauliflower (broken into florets)
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 Tbsp All Purpose flour
- 1cup of whole milk
- 1cup of heavy cream
- 3 oz cream cheese (softened)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 6 slices of bacon, cooked & crumbled
- ½ diced red onions
- Salt & black pepper to taste
Loaded Cauliflower Bake Directions:
- Preheat oven to 350ºF while steaming florets for 10-13 minutes until florets are al dente
- Cheese Sauce:
- Melt butter, add garlic, and flour over medium high heat.
- Stir until golden brown - about 2 minutes and add milk & heavy cream. Bring to a low simmer
- Add cream cheese and diced red onions , whisking until combined
- Stir in 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and whisk until cheese is melted
- Season cheese sauce with salt & pepper to taste
- Build casserole:
- In a casserole dish, spray with with non-stick cooking oil
- Add steamed cauliflower florets, add bacon, pour cheese sauce over florets, and stir ingredients
- Top with remaining shredded cheddar cheese
- Bake the loaded cauliflower bake casserole for 30 - 45 minutes until cauliflower is tender, sauce has thickened, and cheese is bubbly. Rest casserole for 10 minutes before serving