Thanks Giving Turkey Question

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by duffman, Nov 4, 2014.

  1. I was thinking about smoking a Turkey breast for Thanksgiving with my Mother in-law. I have never done turkey breast or turkey before and had a few questions. My first option is to smoke it the Sunday before thanksgiving or the day before. Is there a good way to warm the turkey breast back up on thanksgiving day for lunch then? My other thought is I have seen that it takes 2 to 6 hours ,depending on size, to smoke a turkey breast. So I would get up early and get the smoker rolling around 5am on Thanksgiving morning and smoke it before lunch. Anybody else done any of these or have any suggestions? Thanks!
  2. I have been smoking turkeys for years the day BEFORE Thanksgiving. Brining the turkey is just as important as cooking

    the turkey a day ahead. I use chicken stock as the base for the brine and let the turkey sit in the brine overnight.

    I put the turkey in a disposable aluminum pan breast down to capture the juices as it cooks/smokes.

    I take the turkey directly to the smoker from the refrigerator and smoke until the internal temp gets to 155.

    If you want crisp skin on the turkey, it must be removed from the smoker and put in the oven unless you raise the

    smoker temp to about 350 for a while.

    After removal from the smoker, I wrap it in heavy foil, let it cool for a while, and then into the refrigerator until carving.

    The leftover juices are "defatted" and used to make gravy.

    It is all very easy to do and well worth your time to do. A smoked turkey is a culinary delight.

    Good luck.
  3. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you are an accomplished turkey breast smoker, smoke it that morning. If not I'd never smoke on the clock! You always lose when its the most important.

    I would smoke it the day before and wrap it with a weeeee little bit of juice/fluid and then just warm gently in the oven the next day.

    Things to look for on the breast, bone in or out, single or both sides, enhanced or not. If its already enhanced you can still brine it but it will not take too much, I usually just smoke a pre-enhanced and hope I like their brine. Please don't ask what it is that all those big words really mean though, it ain't pretty.

    Everyone is different, seems folks from the north really go for that crackly skin, me I like the meat. I do low and slow with turkeys because it are notoriously known for tuff. You don't hear folks say tuff chickens or tuff pork, you hear tuff turkeys and tuff beef (I do understand C-mans cows are all happy, contented and fall off the fork tender).

    Anyway, if its bone in, there is that rule of thumb used here of 4/140. That rule can be bent though with a pinch of cure in your brine, if you brine.

    For the holidays I usually try to smoke low and slow, like forever. I like the holiday smoke, I like how everyone feels around the smoker, I like the way food tastes low and slow never a tuff meat. Its all about the love baby, all about the love ......

    Course you can get all hot and fast wityh crackly skin too...... There is no perfect way, only the way you like it.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2014
    generalee likes this.
  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I've never had an issue smoking a turkey or turkey breast the day of the event. Probably one of the easiest things to smoke on the day of. Now as far as timing, that will depend on the size of the bird and the temp that that you plan on running your smoker. Also a turkey breast will take less time than a whole bird. As mentioned above brining the turkey is a good idea. Also air drying the bird in a fridge for 8 hours is a good idea if you have the time. An alternate to this is to hit the bird with a hair dryer on low right before putting the bird on. This is what my typical turkey smoke looks like. Tuesday night put bird in brine. Wednesday night pull from brine, rinse place in fridge to air dry. Thursday smoke (start time depends on bird and when it needs to be done.

    If you're smoker is running around 250° I'd figure 30 min per pound, then add an additional hour on to that time for the rest. You need to rest the bird 30min-45min minimum wrapped in foil prior to serving. This is for a whole bird

    If you are doing just a breast or if you spatchcock the bird those time figures can almost drop in half, still allowing time for a rest.

    No matter what method you use cook to an minimum IT in the breast or thigh of 165°.

    I personally have gone to smoking at high temps for poultry. 350°-365°. My typical smoke time for a bone on breast is right around 2 - 2 1/2 hours. Spatched turkey 2 1/2- 3 hours. Whole turkey 3-4 hours. This is smoking to an IT of 165° in the breast or thigh. Then an additional hour for the rest. If you need to hold the turkey at temp you can for 2-2 1/2 hours if double wrapped in foil towels and stuffed in a cooler.
  5. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'd do them separately. The turkey breast will benefit from a shorter cook at a higher temp, while I'm told mothers-in-law are best when left over a fire for a long, long time. Plus they're notoriously tough and bitter, so will likely ruin the meal anyway.

    (I'm kidding here. I actually have a wonderful mother-in-law whom I love dearly.)
  6. I think I am going to go with the day before, timing something new scares the crap out of me and has bitten my in the backside before. For warming back up the next day in the oven do I wan to put it in at a low temp for awhile or at a high temp for a short while? Keep it wrapped in foil when reheating? Thanks for all the help.
  7. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I like low and slow, hot and fast works just as well, but I have a tendency sometimes to get busy and forget. But unless you need the oven for something else like breads, yams or dressing. Just throw it in. If you do need bread or dressing, just plan appropreiately for the length of time and the temp. A little juice goes a long way.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2014
  8. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Kevin and Case have you covered. Follow them and your meal will be great.

    Now , I have a suggestion if time is a restrain. Do the Breast ahead , using your probe to track temp. , and go nto 165*F IMT . Rest it a bit and slice it into servings, place in vac bags and morning of T-day , place them in boiling water, taste as if you

    just smoked them. You'll have several packs and if 1 is not enough , boil another...ect.
  9. Thanks for all the advice. Of course the last 4 or 5 years Thanksgiving time has been temps in the 50s and 60s the last few years, even 80 one year. So of course the year I decide to finally smoke a thanksgiving turkey, or in this case turkey breast, it isn't suppose to get much above 35 in the coming week. So not only do I get to do my first turkey smoke this year I am also going to be doing my first sub 40 degree smoke as well. I will be keeping my fingers crossed and the pizza place on speed dial. LOL

  10. Another quick question. I am going t do a buttermilk brine on my turkey. I plan on putting it in on Monday evening then getting it out of the brine and let it dry in the fridge on Wednesday morning before it goes in the smoker Wednesday afternoon. Is that to long in the brine? Also what are peoples thoughts on letting the turkey dry in the fridge for a day before smoking it?

Share This Page