a little help with a BIG turkey

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by irwinwd, Dec 28, 2007.

  1. irwinwd

    irwinwd Smoke Blower

    My wife got us a big turkey for free with points at the grocery store. She figured why not get the biggest one and smoke it. I like her general line of thought here! The question comes how long does it take to do a 21 lb turkey in a mes that will max out at 275? I wanted to have some others over as my wife and the 4 month old baby aren't going to put much of a dent in a turkey that big, but I have no idea on the time. Everything I've seen is for much smaller birds.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. irwinwd

    irwinwd Smoke Blower

    by the way I'm going to brine it.
  3. i've recently smoked turkeys that size, twice. each time, it took around 1 - 1.5 hours for every two pounds, smoking at around 225 - 250.

    if you plan on smoking at 275, i would figure your 21 pounder will be done in around 8 hours, could be less...of course, it could be more too!
  4. brentman0110

    brentman0110 Meat Mopper

    Not throwing bad Karma around but be prepared for rubbery skin at any temp lower than 300F. The meat will be perfect, but the skin will be a waste. That is fine with me as I trash the skin anyway with my ecb.
  5. i second that brentman. the skin on both my turkeys was complete rubber. now i know why. thanks.
  6. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  7. irwinwd

    irwinwd Smoke Blower

    Cowgirl, here's the problem and the question. That temp table, like others I've seen is 6.5 hours at 240 for a 12 lb bird. Any guess for a 21 lb bird. The one I have is almost double the size of what's on the chart.
  8. irwinwd

    irwinwd Smoke Blower

    thank's. I'm guessing 6-9 hours based on my previous poultry smokes. I typically brine, then dry the bird good. I'll smoke with no water pan to help with the rubbery skin and once or twice baste with honey to help it crisp up.

    I also have debated smoking for about 5 hours than then finishing in the oven at 350.
  9. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Give it 12 hours and foil/cooler it for a few hours if needed. You can then drop it in a hot oven for a few if the skin mushes a bit on you to crisp it back up.

    I'd have to think it would be done before 12 eh?
  10. irwinwd

    irwinwd Smoke Blower

    Richtee I agree I don't see it taking 12 hours. I know it wouldn't take that long in the oven and we're only talking 275 vs 350. Point of comparison, a relative did a turkey that was 15 lbs for 7 hours in the oven for Christmas. It was way overdone, dry and tasteless. I think most food tends to get overcooked, especially in South Central Pa.
  11. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'd use a thermometer, plan on 8 hours whether it takes that long or not....and pull it off at 165 degrees, wrap and hold until ready to eat.
    Good luck to you and take pictures for us.[​IMG]
  12. garyt

    garyt Smoking Fanatic

    I am no expert but isn't something that big going to be in the danger zone temp wise for too long. Wouldn't cutting it in half speed things up.
  13. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    A "Spatchocking" might be very well in order... I forgot, are you brining it? If so, you buy some more time in the 'danger zone".

    Look up spatchcock, there's a video on how to do it.
  14. shellbellc

    shellbellc Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I was wondering why nobody mentioned this earlier...With that big of a turkey I would put it on for smoke for a few hours and then finish it up in the oven just to be on the safe side. That'll take care of the rubbery skin issue also!
  15. garyt

    garyt Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks Shellbellc. Just proves that Reading all the advice I got here hasn't been wasted. I actually learned something that I can give back.
  16. brianj517

    brianj517 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    WHOA!!! Slow down a minute Irwin. A bird that large is going to remain in the danger zone (140* and below) for Waaay too long to be safe from all manner of nasty bacteria. Please consider either cutting into separate pieces or at least splitting in half or spatchcocking. Trust me...your intestines and your family will thank me later.

  17. chadpole

    chadpole Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    What I would do is remove the thigh and leg quarters then remove the wings. I would then split the bird in half and you have a reasonable size bird to smoke wihout being in the danger zone so long. The final result would be the 21 pounder done in pieces. I think this would solve your problem. Maybe someone else may chime in and give another opinion.
  18. brentman0110

    brentman0110 Meat Mopper

    Chad, I have a q. Does the brining of the bird not help the bird while it is in the danger zone? The salt would definitely hamper the bacteria growth in my experience. Maybe not enough for a bird of this size, but I have had success with birds of the 16# nature...Thoughts?
  19. brentman0110

    brentman0110 Meat Mopper

    No problem Joeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. That is what we are here for, help ya' know.
  20. jts70

    jts70 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member


    Great job on catching the fact that this is one big bird, that could be in the danger zone to long!!! Shell thanks for backing up Gary!! I have to admit I breezed past this, sorry for not paying better attention to this thread. Shell has given the correct advice on what to do with a bird this big.Good luck and keep us posted !!

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