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TooBig a Bird? First time smoking Turkey

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I found some turkeys really cheap today and bought one planning to smoke it tomorrow. I started doing some reading for some ideas and realized I may have bought too big a bird. The one I got is 24 pounds. Could I cut it in half? take the legs off? Quarter it?An ideas for me?

post #2 of 8

Yes to all, your choice...Mix a Brine and put it in the Refer over night to add Flavors you like and Tenderize that old bird, it don't matter if it is already Factory Enhanced, Brine helps anyway... Cut up, the parts will come up to temp at different times, go with 165*F IT for the Breast and 175*F for the Leg Quarters... At 225*F I start the Leg Quarters 1 hour before I add the Breast to the Smoker or oven... JJ

post #3 of 8

Splatchcock any bird over say 13 lbs

post #4 of 8

Or you could use Pop's brine/cure & you can smoke it whole without worrying about the 40-140 rule. But since this is your first turkey I would spatchcock it if it will fit in your smoker that way.

post #5 of 8

I've got a 15 lb turkey in the smoker right now.  I used Pops brine -- started Tuesday night.  I carved off the legs, and put it in my MES this morning.  Like Chef JJ said -- different parts require different times.  I'll bull the breast/carcass minus legs @ 165.  Leave the legs in for a bit longer.


Hammy turkey for dinner tonight!

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

I have no idea what "spatchcock" means but I cut the bird up and smoked it. It cooked quicker than I expected(I usually just smoke ribs and butts). The breast turned out pretty good. They were a little too smokey but with gravy on them were perfect. All very tender and moist. The legs were okay. I think i should have left them on a little longer. The skin felt cripy but was more like leather to chew. I even rubbed on Olive oil and put butter under the skin.



post #7 of 8

BigCat, it looks like you did ok on that turkey.  When you spatchcock a bird you remove the back bone and press on the breast to lay the bird flat. It's mainly done for presentation, but works great for large birds. If you would have left the breast intact, you would have a spachcocked bird.


I've spatchcocked large birds to smoke them and when finished, I push the back together and it sits there looking pretty much like a whole bird.


As for the leathery skin-that's the nature of smoking these things. The only way to get the crisp skin that you're looking for is to pop the bird into a 350° oven for about 30 minutes.


Enjoy the smoke

post #8 of 8

Hey there Big Cat, I ran into the same thing but have done a couple of larger turkeys but got gun shy on my last one at 20 lbs. I got on this site and got encouragment and I'm confident that I can do the big bird. I also wondered about spatchcock and had an idea but wasnt sure how to do it. I googled SPATCHCOCK and found a Martha Stuart slide show that did it step by step and it looks simple enough.  I am going to try the whole bird this time but will practice a spatchcock on a smaller chicken. I have found lots of good info on this site. Its like getting a new book and cant wait to get into it and you cant put it down. By the way, my largest bird was about 16 or 17 lbs prior to this 20 lber as my biggest. Thats why I got here to get answers and I got good ones. My bird is going into the brine today and will be in the smoker on Sunday morning for our family xmas dinner.  

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