I wanted to a test run on smoking before the big feast so I decided to smoke a few wings and turkey legs this past week. My results were ho hum -- take a look at what I did and please make suggestions as to what I could do better:
1) I used the kosher salt, garlic, sugar, apple cider vinegar brine. Instead of mixing in chicken stock as i was fresh out, I boiled it all in a quart of water and then put in a chicken bouillon cube. The results were pretty much the same. I let it cool and then put it in a big bucket with the turkey parts and left it for 24 hours to brine.
2) Next day -- I didn't wash the turkey. Instead I opened two slits, put some butter in between the skin and meat on all parts, doused off lightly with a generic mesquite seasoning.
3) I put a combination of 1/4 mesquite chips and 1/4 hickory in the pan. Because this is an electric smoker, I preheat the chips to make them start smoking faster and never load more than 1/2 cup. I blast the smoker to 300 degrees, put the pan directly on the element. This, I found, gives a thin layer of smoke for about 1 hour and 15 minutes and then fizzles out.
4) I loaded 3 cups of warm water in the tray. Put the turkey on the racks and then started smoking.
It took about 3.5 hours and about 3 wood chip changes to get to 162 degrees internally. At each change, I'd crank up the internal temperature to about 265 to get the preheated wood chips to start smoking more quickly and then brought it to 220-240 for most of the cook. The result was a beautiful golden brown color and a noticeable but not overbearing smokey smell/taste. The pictures of it are consistent with what the other vets posted.
Here were the problems:
The turkey wings and drumsticks were a little dry and a little rough. Not so much to make them inedible but definitely to the point where the consistency was just a hair or two off. My wife suggested i take the bird out a few degree sooner, but I'm not sure if that would be safe/done.
When I bake turkey in the oven, I almost always bake it covered for a good 3hrs for a 10 lb bird, and then open the foil wrap turn up the temp and let it get golden brown. This usually results in a fantastic looking and tasting bird. I'm wondering, if I should do the same here to get the turkey to melt a little more in the mouth type of consistency. Is this a good idea with smoking? I'm wondering what else I can do? Suggestions would be very much appreciated and welcome.