15 1/2 lb turkey in the MES with Q-View

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by teeznuts, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. teeznuts

    teeznuts Master of the Pit

    Picked up a whole turkey weighing 15.51 lbs. It was more of an experiment since I wanted to see for myself exactly how large of a turkey I could do at 225 and still clear the danger zone(40'-140') in under 4 hours.


    Mixed up a brine that I normally use for drumsticks. It's just an ingredient or two away from the "slaughter house" brine I've seen used here on SMF threads. I wanted a little "hammy" taste so I decided to add some Morton's Sugar Cure(interchangeable with TQ per Morton's) to the mix. The back of a bag of Morton's TQ says to add 1 cup TQ to 4 cups water. My Brine was made with 2 gallons of water. That was sounding like the recipe for a salty nightmare. I called Morton's customer service and finally got someone to talk to. I was told I would be fine using the formula for 1 gallon of water which was 4 cups Sugar Cure(still sounds pretty salty). I crossed my fingers that the gentleman at Morton's knew what he was talking about and added to the brine.

    We don't care for the skin so I peeled it back during the brine session. The idea was to allow the brine more access to the meat and then pull the skin back over the bird during the smoke to retain moisture.


    Used a zip bag of water to keep the bird submerged.


    The turkey sat in the brine for 2 1/2 days. I visited the turkey twice a day and rotated it around the brine to mix things up that may have settled. Once the brine session was over the turkey went in to an ice water bath for a few hours then a rinse to remove excess saltiness. After the rinse I pulled the skin back into place and "pinned" it in place with tooth picks.


    It then joined my turkey fatty in the MES.


    I started it breast down for the first two hours. After two hours I flipped it over, breast side up and inserted thermometer probes in each breast and one in the thigh. The IT of each breast had passed 140' at 3 hours and 48 minutes into the smoke. Cutting it kinda close, but we were out of the danger zone.

    After 9 hours and 23 minutes(wanted to be exact in case someone else is interested) the IT was 166 in one breast and 167 in the other. This is the first time I've had breasts finish so close in IT.



    After a 45 minute rest I carved it up. Aside from the drumsticks, we don't really eat much of the dark meat so I tossed the wings and just saved some a handful of thigh meat.



    Drumsticks! My favorite, just like Disneyland.


    The meat has the "hammy" flavor I was looking for and I consider this a successful smoke. I think if i were to do a whole bird again I'd keep it at 12lbs or under to clear the danger zone quicker. Since I'm not bug on dark meat I actually get more meat by buying an 8 lb breast that has the legs, thighs and wings removed. I can always buy a package of drumsticks to go along with it.

    Thanks for looking.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Boy that is a beautiful turkey. I love the color of the skin.

    Since you used cure in your brine you don't have to worry about getting it thru the danger zone.
  3. teeznuts

    teeznuts Master of the Pit

    Thanks Al. I wasn't quite sure if it was considered fully cured because of the short time but I figured to be safe I wanted to hit 40-140 in 4.
  4. slownlow

    slownlow Smoking Fanatic

    Looks great, send your dark meat this way next time [​IMG]
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Teez, did you by any chance get a Thigh temp when the Breasteses hit 167*F? Your skin removal inadvertantly produced a technique I was thinking about for folks that keep ending up with 165*F breasts and raw thighs...Cutting the skin between the breast and thighs allowing the thighs to be Spread apart and have better heat circulation and a broader surface area would allow more even cooking...My only concern was the Thin area of breast meat, that is usually protected by the thighs, Drying out!...You said you are not into Wing and Thigh meat...What do you do with it? I'm the opposite...Thigh meat for Dinner...Wings for Snacking...I do eat Breast meat heated up in Gravy for Hot Turkey Sammies...JJ
  6. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks Unbelievable, Teez!!!

    The color is SUPER !!!  Inside & Out !!!

    How salty did it end up?

    Where did you get the 2 1/2 hour brining time.

    I was looking for directions with MTQ too, when you were thinking about doing this.


  7. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    Forgot to mention, I would have went for 135˚ in 4 hours too, since it was an experiment, because I wouldn't be sure it was completely cured in 2 1/2 days, without pump-injecting it too.

    Getting it through the danger zone in 4 hours made it perfectly safe, and as I said, it looks Awesome!!!

  8. Beautiful turkey!

    Was it Hammy throughout the breast or just the outer portions?

    Just wondering how deep the brine penetrated in that amount of time?
  9. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks great to me!!

  10. garyinmd

    garyinmd Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Teez, your frickin killing me with the smokes lately.  I have been looking at the turkey posts here lately, last year was the first year wife wanted a turkey on the smoker for Thanksgiving so I am trying to get a plan together and not waiting until the last minute as normal.   Never brinded anything yet but this may be the time.

  11. teeznuts

    teeznuts Master of the Pit

    It is a nightmare trying to find a TQ brine recipe from a trusted authority so I went through my Morotn's Meat Curing book and found a recipe for brining a 3 lb chicken using 1 cup TQ or Sugar Cure with 2 quarts cold water(2 quarts=8 cups). It calls for a 24 hour soak.


    Then I looked at a pic of the back of a TQ bag, that someone here was kind enough to send me ages ago, and noticed it syas for brine curing add 1 cup TQ to 4 cups water and brine for 24 hours.


    I became a little frustrated since we are taught that using cure is nothing to guess at yet I'm seeing inconsistencies between the cure to water ratios put out by the same company. Maybe I'm overthinking but I decided to call Morotn's myself especially since I was using 2 gallons of water in my brine. I asked the gentleman if it would harm my 15 lb turkey to go an extra day or two since the 24 hour soak in the recipe was designed for a much smaller, 3 lb chicken. He said I would be ok as long as I rinsed good.

    All turned out well but It's frustrating to have to question a company based on their cure directions that somewhat conflict eachother.
    Hey Mike, The "hammy" taste seemed to be throughout and not just the outer portions. It definitely needs a good soak. The morning after I can taste a little saltiness to it but I don't use salt on anything so it stands out to me. Everyone else is loving it on turkey sandwiches as I type this.
  12. teeznuts

    teeznuts Master of the Pit

    Thanks Gary, I would definitely do a practice run. Even if you give it away so you don't burn yourself out on turkey too early. It's good to try one out and sample to make sure you like the end result since you don't get a do-over on turkey day.
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks for your reply on the 2 1/2 hours, Teez!!!

    LOL---That label looks familiar!!

  14. teeznuts

    teeznuts Master of the Pit

    Ya to clear up any confusion it was definitely 2 1/2 days not hours.
  15. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Teez,

    I thought I had corrected that typo (brain-fart), but I had it right (2 1/2 days) in post #7. 

    I must be getting senile!!!

  16. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Freaking Awesome Teez!

    Did the Amber/Red color come from the brine or smoke or both?

    I separate the breasts from the back, and it smokes faster

    You could also "Spatchcock" the bird

    I'm not a big fan of leftover chicken or turkey, so I have some "Smoked Chicken Salad" or "Smoked Turkey Salad" out of the leftovers

  17. jc1947

    jc1947 Smoking Fanatic

  18. glocksrock

    glocksrock Smoking Fanatic

    Amazing color, looks delicious. What type of wood did you use?
  19. teeznuts

    teeznuts Master of the Pit

    I think a combination of both. The smoke definitely gave the exterior a nice finish but the cure seemed to really add some color. I've never had that coloring in turkeys that I've smoked without brine/cure.

    Ahh my biggest mistake. I used apple but I think it was a little milder than what I was shooting for. I would definitely go mesquite next time or an apple/mesquite combo.
  20. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Looks good, nice experiment as well. I'll take those wings if you don't want 'em....

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