Picked up a whole turkey weighing 15.51 lbs. It was more of an experiment since I wanted to see for myself exactly how large of a turkey I could do at 225 and still clear the danger zone(40'-140') in under 4 hours.
Mixed up a brine that I normally use for drumsticks. It's just an ingredient or two away from the "slaughter house" brine I've seen used here on SMF threads. I wanted a little "hammy" taste so I decided to add some Morton's Sugar Cure(interchangeable with TQ per Morton's) to the mix. The back of a bag of Morton's TQ says to add 1 cup TQ to 4 cups water. My Brine was made with 2 gallons of water. That was sounding like the recipe for a salty nightmare. I called Morton's customer service and finally got someone to talk to. I was told I would be fine using the formula for 1 gallon of water which was 4 cups Sugar Cure(still sounds pretty salty). I crossed my fingers that the gentleman at Morton's knew what he was talking about and added to the brine.
We don't care for the skin so I peeled it back during the brine session. The idea was to allow the brine more access to the meat and then pull the skin back over the bird during the smoke to retain moisture.
Used a zip bag of water to keep the bird submerged.
The turkey sat in the brine for 2 1/2 days. I visited the turkey twice a day and rotated it around the brine to mix things up that may have settled. Once the brine session was over the turkey went in to an ice water bath for a few hours then a rinse to remove excess saltiness. After the rinse I pulled the skin back into place and "pinned" it in place with tooth picks.
It then joined my turkey fatty in the MES.
I started it breast down for the first two hours. After two hours I flipped it over, breast side up and inserted thermometer probes in each breast and one in the thigh. The IT of each breast had passed 140' at 3 hours and 48 minutes into the smoke. Cutting it kinda close, but we were out of the danger zone.
After 9 hours and 23 minutes(wanted to be exact in case someone else is interested) the IT was 166 in one breast and 167 in the other. This is the first time I've had breasts finish so close in IT.
After a 45 minute rest I carved it up. Aside from the drumsticks, we don't really eat much of the dark meat so I tossed the wings and just saved some a handful of thigh meat.
Drumsticks! My favorite, just like Disneyland.
The meat has the "hammy" flavor I was looking for and I consider this a successful smoke. I think if i were to do a whole bird again I'd keep it at 12lbs or under to clear the danger zone quicker. Since I'm not bug on dark meat I actually get more meat by buying an 8 lb breast that has the legs, thighs and wings removed. I can always buy a package of drumsticks to go along with it.
Thanks for looking.