It's almost that time of year again. A little over 3 months 'til the big turkey holocaust. Like, I suspect, many of you here on the forum, I'm planning to smoke our turkey this year. This will be my first time, also like, I suspect, many of you on here.
My first question has to do with not the Thanksgiving variety, but those turkey breasts you find ready to be sliced in delis. The ones to which I'm referring appear not to be processed, IE ground and formed, but rather whole breasts that are ridiculously moist and have the consistency of ham. I'm curious as to how this happens. I suspect they're injected, brined and possibly cured, I just don't know the process. I'm not dying to make one, but it might be fun to try sometime to slice for sandwiches.
My second question involves smoking the bird for the big day. It's not so much a question as a request for affirmation of my planned process. What I'm thinking of doing is brining the bird in the usual manner. Rinse, pat dry, season etc... Plan to stuff with celery, apples and onions. Then for the first 3 hours on the smoker I plan to run it at 225˚. At this point, my assumption is that the skin will be approaching 140˚, thus the absorption of smoke will be significantly reduced or even stopped from what I understand. I'll then oil or butter the skin, insert the probe and crank the smoker to 325˚ or 350˚.
For a 12lb, bird, my thinking is that total cook time should be in the 5 to 6 hour range, but obviously I'll be cooking to temp. Just trying to to have it be done and rested as close to the planned dinner time as possible. I've read through here and searched, but haven't come across any 2 stage methods for smoking turkey.
I'm hoping the initial low temp phase will allow for as much smoke absorption as possible before the skin "seals", then the high heat phase will crisp the skin and finish cooking the bird.
Am I overthinking this? Should I just run it the whole time at 350˚? I'm really looking for a good solid smoke flavor, but I'd like a crispy skin and a good looking bird, as it will be the centerpiece of the table.
Any thoughts or tips are greatly appreciated. By the way, I'll be doing this on my ECB, and the plan is to dump the water out of the pan and add a whole chimney of lit lump in the coal pan when switching to the high heat phase. Or maybe I'll be able to talk the wife into letting me splurge on a WSM by that time. :)