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Early Thanksgiving Smoked Turkey with Q-View

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

Hey all, I had an early Thanksgiving yesterday, thought I'd share.  Japan stubbornly refuses to celebrate US holidays, so I had to get things put together when the inlaws and friends could make it, so Thanksgiving came on November 11th this year.

 

This was my first ever smoked turkey, as well as my second ever charcoal (vs electric) fired smoke, and my second time to use my ECB.  With all that in mind, I decided to do two turkeys.  The first one I did in the oven, figuring that I knew how to do that, and if the smoking didn't work, the guests wouldn't go turkey-less. 

 

However, this isn't oven-roastingmeatforums, is it?  The second turkey was a tiny little bird, 2 kilos, or just short of 4.5 lbs.  I used a bourbon brine with it that I found on google, left it in the brine for about 8 hours or so, then overnight uncovered in the fridge to dry.  I then covered it in a mixture of butter and Almighty Spice from the Meat Guy here in Japan.  Almighty Spice is a mixture of the lighter spices such as sage, rosemary, and a bunch of other stuff that I'm too lazy to look up.  It goes well with white meats like pork and poultry anyway.

 

Going in:

 

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As for the smoke, well.  I smoked a chicken in the ECB a few weeks ago as a test, and had some trouble getting the smoke going.  I'm using blocks of compressed sawdust sold for smoking, called "Smoke Wood."  The problem I had was that I first tried to put them on the lower grill (above the water pan), but found that there's no oxygen up there after passing the fire.  Then I tried to move them into the fire pan, but with all the charcoal to one side and the smoke wood block to the other, but they tended to flame up.  I finally ended up balancing the block on the edge of the fire pan, near the door, with all the charcoal shoved to the other side, but they still burned off pretty quickly. 

 

Clearly, it was time to go high-tech.

 

So I cut the top off a 16 ounce (well, 500ml, but you get the picture) adult beverage can and poked some holes around the bottom for airflow.  Then I used my blowtorch to burn off the paint on the outside and the plastic lining on the inside.

 

Voila!

 

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Light that little block of sawdust up with a blowtorch and tuck it into the can:

 

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Then put the can underneath the smoker.  (I used two this time, actually).  Heat rises, the smoke gets pulled into the smoker by the draft of the fire:

 

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to be continued....

post #2 of 2
Thread Starter 

The first chicken I made took about two and a half hours.  I don't know why, it was also about 4.5 lbs, and I was running between 270 and 315 most of the time.  As a result, I left a lot more time than I needed, figuring three to three and a half hours, just to be safe.  When I first put the charcoal in, before I added water to the pan (or the turkey), things shot up to 462 degrees, so I knew temps wouldn't be a problem.  Once I added boiling water to the pan and put the turkey in, it went to about 320.  My logic is, in the oven, I cook turkey at 350, and smoking goes on around 225 for meats, with most of the recommendations I've read saying about 275 for turkeys, so as long as I'm somewhere between 275 and 350, I don't mess with things.  It worked out for me this time, so I think I'll stick with it.  Oops, forgot to mention that the smoke was Japanese Cherry (sakura).

 

The meat temperature rose fairly quickly, but part of that was me having trouble placing the thermometer probe.  There's not a lot of depth to the meat on such a small bird, so anytime it looked OK, I moved the probe around until I found a cooler spot.  When I ran out of cooler spots, I called it cooked, and it was.  My heat stayed good for about an hour, then dropped off pretty quickly (using natural lump charcoal), so I reloaded things and promptly finished cooking the bird after only an hour and twenty minutes or so.  At 10:45.  With lunch to be served at 2.

 

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Foiled and toweled it, and chucked it in the cooler until lunchtime.

 

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It looks so much nicer than the oven cooked bird.  Both tasted wonderful, but the consensus among my guests was that the smoked bird was the better of the two, so next year I'll go all-out and just smoke a larger bird as the sole main course.

 

Thanks for looking, and best of luck with your Thanksgiving smokes.  If I can do it, anyone can!

 

-val
 

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