There's a kazillion different ways to brine. From very simple to mucho ingredients. My first turkey brine was ultra complex. Couldn't tell you if it really made all that much difference or not (all those ingredients I mean). Since, I've brined turkeys and chickens a PLENTY and I keep it real simple now. I'll add about a cup of salt and about 3/4 cup of sugar and then whatever else I think I want to fart with to about a gallon of water. IMO, the salt is the only KEY ingredient to a brine. After all, the salt is what does the work of the brine. I add sugar (or a variation thereof, like say, maple syrup, molasses, honey, fresh otrange juice, etc) because in my way of thinking, once the salt extracts the moisture from the meat, then whatever ELSE is in the brine will also be drawn back INTO the meat. So I'm of the opinion that some sugar will add some sweetness to the meat.
SO.....add whatever it is that you want to your brine, then stir it all up good to dissolve. Add the bird, then top off the liquid (if necessary) until Tom is completely submerged. In past years I've used a 5 gal bucket, washed out well, then lined with a kitchen trash bag. Place in fridge for 18-24 hours. When ready to smoke, remove the bird from the brine, RINSE THOROUGHLY and then add whatever rub, or other seasonings your going to use.
If you've got the time, leave the bird in the fridge on a platter so the skin will have a chance to firm back up and get some of the moisture out. This will allow for crispier skin. Many times I've skipped this step (usually due to me being behind) but if at all possible, this is important.
Let the bird come to room temp on the counter while you fire the smoker (not unlike other roasts that you've smoked). HINT: Place a freezer bag full of ice on top of the breasts during this process. This will help keep the breast from overcooking, because the breast meat will be a LOT colder when you put the bird on the smoke, which will make it about 1/2h or so behind the rest of the bird during the cook. Get it?
I like to stuff the bird with a whole onion (cut in half) and some citrus, like a lemon and an orange (both halved). This will impart yumminess and moisture to the meat from the inside as the onion and citrus steam during the cook.
OR....you could get you one of these:
I have 2. They work GREAT! It's basically a way to do sort of a "beer can turkey" but still being able to fit the bird on a kettle (for instance) or UDS and still get the lid on. Not essential, but another cool trick.
I also prefer to truss the bird. This will help it all cook as ONE piece of meat, and will also prevent the wings and legs from drying out. Trussing basically just involves tying the legs and wings snuggly against the body of the bird. Google "trussing a turkey" for help on this.
Fruitwood works great with any poultry. Cherry is my personal favorite. Or apple. You've got cherry, so you're golden.
I typically do all my poultry at 325-350 degrees until the breast is about 165. If you iced your breasts prior to cooking, hopefully the breast and thigh will be around the same temp.
If along the cook, you think it's getting too dark, foil. As with any smoke.....more smoke=darker. I usually have good smoke at the beginning of the cook and then not so much later.
I want to say that a 12 lb turkey will take around 3-3.5 hours, but I'm guessing. When done, let it rest before carving.
If you google "smoked turkey recipe", you'll be reading for days. I did this a few years ago and I've still got at least a dozen of the recipes that jumped out at me printed and in the drawer.
I love smoked turkey. My family will simply not allow me to prepare a turkey any other way but smoked. (not that I'd WANT to cook one any other way
) They always turn out GREAT! Unbelievable flavor.
Here's last year's:
Good luck to ya man!