I injected my thoughts in bold italics...
Originally Posted by gmebey
Ok here is the situation.
My wife has asked me to smoke two 12 lbs turkeys today for a friends birthday party tomorrow. No problem, poultry is one of my strong suits.....well until today.
I took my typical approach, brine for 12 hours, smoke at 250 until the thigh and breast is 180. 165* is minimum safe temp...I shoot for 170* in the thigh, 165* in the breast...tender and juicy birds at these temps.
Oh BTW I'm using two ECBs and have for years with great results.....OK back to the story.
I took the birds off and double checked with a second meat thermometer that they were at 180. Let the birds rest for 20 minutes... Was this a digital probe, or a small analog? They can be very sensitive to rough handling and may need calibration more often than we'd like to think.
When I was carving the birds (as per the order) I noticed the meat seemed wet, tough...the texture is WAY off...RAW?
HOW in the heck is possible, they were at 180 in several spots?!?!?! Is this an identical brining period and brine recipe to what you've done in the past? Does it taste saltier than what you'd normally have?
I can only come to one conclusion, the weather played a part.
Today it was rainy and a high of 46F......can this screw with the final results? Were your chamber temps holding fairly steady, or did it fall of with the onset of rain? Also, what were you monitoring chamber temps with?
In general, my experiences with brined birds (and pork) have been good, although, I have had a few times where I was wondering if the brine was beneficial or detrimental to the finished product. I've not had alot of opportunity to do side-by-side comparisons to help narrow the possibile causes for less then perfect results, infortunately.
My best guess right now would be something changed with the brine, especially if you've used the same smokers for the same meat for a long time. Then, I'm thinking relative humidity, ambient temps, wind, rain/snowfall all can have an effect due to increasing the average chamber humidity and/or causing temp instability or falling/un-recoverable chamber temps, listed in order of least to highest degree of impact. If you monitor the chamber temps with a digital probe or analog long-stem fryer thermometer is best. If rain were dropping onto the smoke chamber walls, that can zap a ton of thermal energyfrom the smoke chamber...much more than we think, and without accurate and rapid readings of temp changes, ity could fo un-0noticed for a longer period of time. Higher humidity just seems to cause longer cooking time, but internal temps, if accurate, were well above the minimum recomended of 165*.
Seems like a possibility of lower chamber temps causing a longer cooking period, which can make the texture tougher. Also, that's a high finish temp which can cause tougher/drier texture....I can't say for sure, but that's where I'd start looking.
EDIT: man I type slow!!! What Al mentioned is a valid point, and likely your culprit...I guess I was looking at all the possible angles and mentioned it, mixed into everything else.