Is it dangerous to try to smoke a 26lb. turkey??

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by gmintimidator03, Nov 23, 2009.

  1. Should I not even try this because of how big it is or what??
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Only dangerous if you can't get oven temps out of your smoker.

    I have a 22.5# and plan on spatch-cocking it for a faster cooking time...even though I can push way over 350* in my Smoke Vault...not worth the risk of doing it whole to me. Getting through the danger zone soon enough is the issue.

  3. bbq engineer

    bbq engineer Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What Eric said...if you have a stick burner and can crank the temp to 325 ish, then you will have no problem. If you can only get 225-250 out of your rig, you might not be able to get out of the 40-140 danger zone soon enough. You will have to assess what your rig can do and judge accordingly.

    Be sure to brine, and take some pics. I'd love to see a beautiful smoke on a ginormous bird like that!

    Good luck.
  4. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What they said.

    Plus, don't stuff it. Leave the cavity empty so it can get through the danger zone faster.

    If you can't get your smoker over 300°, I wouldn't do it.

  5. Yeah I knew not too stuff it so the heat would get into it. Pretty sure I can get it past 300, just gotta keep it there. I want to try it really bad, but if I don't I will just go with 2 13lb. birds. If I do push on with the plan I will get some pics of it.
  6. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have done a stuffed 23 pounder before.Temps averaged 340-360-like a oven cook.....You should definetly stick a probe deep in the cavity full of stuffing-when bird is proper internal- to make sure stuffing is cooked as well...

    The big birds are usually toms-male turkeys,so way more bone structure then a 15 pound hen....This does cut the risk of danger zone a bit,since the bones conduct heat much like a whole pig...

    I would suggest no less then 320 degree-minimum....Mine take 14 minutes a pound on average at these temps to get too 170 degree in thigh....
  7. bbq engineer

    bbq engineer Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey Alex, How was the stuffing? Did it have a light smoke, or just soak that in like my disasterous meatloaf episode? I might want to try that as I love stuffing from the bird.
  8. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I love it Dana.I do a bread crumb and egg to bind with tons of fresh herbs,fresh garden scalions and roasted chestnuts ground etc...

    I remove it from bird within ten minutes of pulling so it does not continue to cook...Really does not get much smoke-just the little bit sticking out,but the fat from turkey gives it a wonderfull flavor....I have to reserve some for sister or i get beat up....
    My mom always did it this way.....I think- as you do,i also put a compound butter with herbs under skin and rub em down with olive oil...Worked last 25 years or so...
  9. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    A big en like that I would spatchcock an smoke at nothin under 325° (350° bein better) myself.
  10. thebattman

    thebattman Newbie

    Spatchcock is the way too go.

    I do have a question though - Could one start off with a hot fire (say 300-ish), then once the bird gets past the 140 mark, let the temps fall off a bit until the bird is finished? Or is the skin already hard enough by the 140 mark that not much more smoke gets in anyway?
  11. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You may want to start it in hot oven 450' for 30 - 45 minutes and move to the smoker. Basically doing a sear.

    Before smoking, I always did my birds this way.
  12. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've been watching this thread and I have a question. I'm not a turkey smokin expert so take this as a question from someone who doesn't know what they are talkin about. I smoke a whole 120 pound hog at 250 degrees and it is safe to eat. What makes a turkey so hard to get to an internal temp of 140+ in 4 hours or less? Even if it weighs in at 25 pounds.... with an open cavity, the thing can't be as thick or as dense as a whole leg section of a pig. Does it have something to do with the difference in the meat? I've seen a number of posts discussing the importance of smoking a smaller turkey around 15 pounds or under and I'm just not getting the reason why a large turkey would be unsafe to smoke in a 250 degree range.
  13. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yep.Why the freak would i spatchcock a turkey that i know-i have done 23 pounders(at Least 50) plus at higher temps stuffed..I dont get it either.

    A turkey is 50% bones and i have done 50 plus pigs at lower temps knowing the bones make up most of the meat and conduct the heat to the inside....WTF....I like higher temps cause i do not have the time etc...

    Maybe the folk are worried about undercooking i.e. inaccurate thermos etc....VERY GOOD QUESTION !!!!!!!!!!
  14. gnubee

    gnubee Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Its called the Turkey cannon. Made by Camp Chef, known for their Cast Iron ware.

    It cooks the Turkey quite a bit faster than conventional methods and applies heat to the inside as well as the outside of the bird, which reduces the time the bird is in the danger zone.
    Whether or not it improves the moistness or flavour I don't know.

    Spatchcocking is a really good method also, anything to get the bird up to temp faster is a plus.
  15. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Why? From what I understand.... if the bird hasn't been injected or the meat punctured, there should be no reason to rush the bird to temp. I understand wanting higher temps for poultry to crisp the skin up but I am not understanding this rush to get a turkey up to temp any faster than what we get a ham or a butt up to temp or what the problem is with smoking a large bird. I'm not trying to get any controversy started.. don't want that at all.... just want to understand the why thing here.
  16. raceyb

    raceyb Smoking Fanatic

    I wouldn't recommend it unless you have been smoking for some time and know what you are doing. The founder of the forums recommends 10-12 lb birds on average.
  17. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I guess I might as well chime in also. I think there is so much mis information going on with Thanksgiving, I understand being cautious but common sense should play in here.

    As far as spatchcock I feel that anytime you pierce the skin you are gonna lose the juices.

    I split a breast a while ago and it was dry. I did the other half in the crock pot, no kidding, me, and a crock pot?

    I agree with Dave and Alex, just be safe and enjoy.
  18. raceyb

    raceyb Smoking Fanatic

    The difference between the whole pig and a big turkey is salmonella, which is common in poultry. It multiplies quickly and is killed only if it reaches 165 degrees. It lives in the intestinal tract of birds and can cross contaminate other meats and fruits and vegetables.

    Because a turkey is considered done at that temp, it is very important to make sure that teh thickest part of the breast reaches 165 and the thigh as well. You may have to foil tent the breast to prevent over cooking while finishing up the dark meat.

    A pig can be cooked to a higher temperature and still not be dry because it is not as lean as the poultry.
  19. raceyb

    raceyb Smoking Fanatic

    Wasn't the skin cut when the head was chopped off and the bird gutted?
  20. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    So a turkey is thicker then a pig.Every case of salmoonella i know of was from the factory-lately.Improper handling.When was the last case of triconelma(speeling) in a pig.This was old days when everyone fed pigs, SLOP.Sleeping with the pigs was an old saying.

    I have met/know folk who love wild poultry and pig....Deer,elk.

    I understand a forum protecting folk,but Dave raises a good point for folk who have some experience.... Play it safe etc...

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