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Large turkey, should I?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I picked up a turkey for xmas dinner this Sunday. I am thinking about getting something smaller but would really like turkey and wanted to be sure there would be plenty left when the kids all go home. So I bought the biggest turkey I could fine a 19.5 lb bird. Is it possible to smoke that thing with out getting into problems with contamination like starting it out at a higher temp for say the first hour or so to get it past that dangerous temp where the bacteria can form? I have done a few 16 lb birds with success in the past. I know the easier solution would be to just get 2 smaller birds but I sometimes I get a "Tim the tool man," mentallity  I know Im looking at a approx. 10hr cook time but time is not problem because I intend to be in front of my heated garage with the smoker and inside the garage, doing whatever.

post #2 of 15

Pellet, you are going to get mixed answers on this I'm sure. I smoke 20+ birds all the time, and have never had a problem. I brine before I smoke, and add Morton's tender quick to help with the 4-140 rule. Last T day I smoked two 25# birds in about 8 hours. I try and maintain my smoker temp above 250 I prefer 275 but don't always get there.  With that being said in my own opinion yes you can.

post #3 of 15

If you don't care about the presentation part of it, why not spatchcock it.  The last two birds I did, I slit the skin between the leg and breast, it is supposed to help the thighs cook faster and it did for me.  Brine that sucker also, cant beat it in my opinion, and it should help speed up the cook time a bit.  I always go for more birds instead of bigger bird, I think the small ones taste better plus I get to smoke more of them that way. Just my two cents.

 

Oh yeah I see you're a Iowan almost forgot

GO HAWKS!!  lol

post #4 of 15

I smoke 18-20 lb birds whole, un-stuffed without curing.  Cook temp is usually 265-275* (a little higher than normal smoking temps of 225-250*). The birds never take over 5 hours to hit an internal temp of 165*.  I usually take mine to 170* in the thickest part of the breast just to be extra safe.  I leave the body cavity open and start with the bird breast side down until there is about an hour left in the cook time; then I flip it.  I've been smoking turkeys this way for 15+ years w/o any problems. 

 

Some folks around here spatchcock the bird to guard against lingering in the danger zone (40-140* in 4 hours or less).  You might want to consider that if you are at all concerned.  You can also cure your bird which takes the entire worry out of the equation.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sprky View Post

Pellet, you are going to get mixed answers on this I'm sure. I smoke 20+ birds all the time, and have never had a problem. I brine before I smoke, and add Morton's tender quick to help with the 4-140 rule. Last T day I smoked two 25# birds in about 8 hours. I try and maintain my smoker temp above 250 I prefer 275 but don't always get there.  With that being said in my own opinion yes you can.


Thanks for the reply, I look forward to more opinions. I really havent had a problem getting upto temps of 250 to 300. In fact I seem to  be able keep a steady temp at anything over 240 regardless of the outside temps. What would the 4-140 rule be? I figured a 10 hr smoke time because the wife says she plans on a about a 12:30 dinner and I can waiver an hr or so either way. If its done earlier ,then the bird gets more of a rest before dinner.
 

 

post #6 of 15

I have done 20lb birds many times but always start them out 275+ and I do brine them. I have even started them out in the oven for a couple of hrs. then move them into the smoker...

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Wow, getting good info here. I thought I could get educated just by lurking but I have a learned alot just tonite after registering!

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

I have done 20lb birds many times but always start them out 275+ and I do brine them. I have even started them out in the oven for a couple of hrs. then move them into the smoker...


I knew I wasn't the only one...  Thanks, Roller!

 

post #9 of 15


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pellet View Post


Thanks for the reply, I look forward to more opinions. I really havent had a problem getting upto temps of 250 to 300. In fact I seem to  be able keep a steady temp at anything over 240 regardless of the outside temps. You should be just fine then IMO

 

What would the 4-140 rule be? The 4-140 rule is the temp of the meat needs to get to 140 degrees within 4 hours or less

 

I figured a 10 hr smoke time because the wife says she plans on a about a 12:30 dinner and I can waiver an hr or so either way. If its done earlier ,then the bird gets more of a rest before dinner. Good plan. I always try and figure 30 min per pound for the smoke but never get started in time lol. Your correct you can hold it till dinner if done early but its hard to wait on it.
 

 



 

post #10 of 15

Sounds like you have plenty of options. Don't forget the camera!

post #11 of 15

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I would definatley brine the bird with some cure added. Then I would also Spatchcock the bird you know cut out the backbone and then lay then bird flat. It will smoke faster and be just as good. Enjoy and don't forget the Q-view.

post #12 of 15

Just did a 21 lb. bird for Thanksgiving, brined for 20 hrs., ran my smoker between 250-275° (unstuffed bird), came out very very tastey!

post #13 of 15

I always smoke large birds.  The reason being small birds grow large bones and then fill in meat supported by those bones.  That means less meat and more bone with

small birds.  I think the break point is around 14-15 lbs.  I typically smoke 21-26 lbs.  I never use tender quick as it causes turkey to taste like cured ham.  I always brine

and have found this results in moister meat and it cooks faster.  I make sure that my smoker is at 275-300 prior to putting the birds on. My adult children like to take

home turkey, so I know have to cook 5 birds at a time.  I just use cheap Styrofoam ice chests for brineing each one, wash and place the foiled hot bird in it for taking home.

post #14 of 15

I see no problem with what you want to do.  If I might make a suggestion, figure the time you want to start the bird to be ready for dinner (with the recommended resting time) and then add 2 hours.  You never know what might happen and late Christmas dinner doesn't always sit well with guests.  I smoked a 21 lb. turkey yesterday, planned on a 5 hour smoke at 270 degrees but in reality it took nearly 6 1/2 hours.  It's done at temperature, not at a specific time.  The bird will keep for more than 2 hours properly placed in a cooler wrapped in foil and blankets.  The meat will actually benefit from the added time resting and dinner can resume when planned and you will be the hero of the party!!!

 

Good luck and enjoy the time!!

post #15 of 15

I'm taking my turkey out on Monday to thaw and then brining it for a couple of days. I'm pre-smoking it on Christmas Eve day for Christmas dinner. I smoked my first turkey for thanksgiving and it took about 10 hours, and since this one is bigger and Christmas is always more hectic, I figure smoking it the day before, letting it rest in the fridge over night, carve it in the morning and then re-heat in a roasting pan with the reserved drippings should work. Has anyone tried this?? The Thanksgiving turkey turned out AMAZING with the skin turning an AMAZING dark gold, I should have taken a pic! I'm hoping my Xmas one will turn out just as good!

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