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Questions for my first turkey smoke...

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm takin' the plunge and committing our Thanksgiving turkey to the smoker this year (actually my third time smoking anything) I have an MES 30. My plan is to give Jeff's Bacon Butter Turkey recipe a try, but being new to this have a few questions I didn't see covered. 

 

First, do I use the water pan and if so, just water or a mix of something? 

Second, top vent open, closed or somewhere in between?

Third, wood- my options are hickory, mesquite, pecan or alder?

Fourth, and this seems to have alot of varied opinions, soak the chips or dry?

 

Surely these are basic questions, but one has to start somewhere and the more I know upfront the less chance of wrecking the family meal....Thanks for any advice.

 

Jeff

post #2 of 6

hahah every question you asked has varying opinions.

 

if you aren't using an AMNPS then there really isn't any harm in putting something in the water pan. when I first did turkey in my mes I put a little bit of apple juice in the water pan and threw in some herbs and stuff. you don't NEED to put anything in there. nowadays I don't even have the water pan in the smoker. you really cant go wrong here just don't FILL it up with anything. its messy trying to get it out and youll  basically steam your meat.

 

with the vent, again you cant really go wrong either way. if it is smoking very heavily then I would open it wide open. if you have problems getting your temperature to stay consistent then I would close it. I usually leave mine about halfway open. the big thing is that you don't want to trap a bunch of creosote (bad smoke) in there because it tastes nasty. so as long as you have a consistent temp and some good thin blue smoke it doesn't really matter much.

 

if you are knew to smoking then you probably wont taste much of a difference in either of them. once you start smoking a lot you will be able to taste the subtle flavors in each one. personally I think all hickory or all mesquite would be a little harsh for poultry. alder or pecan would be fine. or you could mix them up a little and get a little of each.

 

i think the consensus would say don't ever soak your chips. they wont burn or smoke when they are wet so there really is no need. some people argue they last longer when soaked. my personal experience is that i soaked chips once and i got a lot of thick, heavy, nasty smoke. so i never did it again. i just didn't see the need for it.

 

these are just my personal opinions. as you get more and more experience you will figure out what works best for you. when i did my first smoke ever i did a turkey and ham for thanksgiving. i was so nervous and wanting to make sure i did everything right. but honestly, electric smoking isn't that hard. its actually pretty idiot proof as long as you maintain the right temperature in your smoker and pull the meat at the right temperature. everything is pretty much personal preference. its really hard to mess up the actual cooking part.

post #3 of 6

We all have different opinions on those questions.  Her are my answers

 

First, do I use the water pan and if so, just water or a mix of something? For me I use water in water pan, it helps control temps imho

 

Second, top vent open, closed or somewhere in between? This one we all agree on, top vent open

 

Third, wood- my options are hickory, mesquite, pecan or alder? I like hickory on my poultry

 

Fourth, and this seems to have alot of varied opinions, soak the chips or dry? I soak for 30 mins

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys. I have a better idea directionally how to go forward. With each effort I'll learn more and what works for me, but having a starting point is invaluable. I appreciate your input.

 

Jeff

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Well, the deed is done and while we haven't carved yet, it looks like it might just be really good! Had issues with temp control comparing the MES thermostat with my Maverick and a lot of temp ups and downs, but....part of the learning. Here's the result.

 

post #6 of 6

Nice lookin Turkey there jsk53. Especially compared to my first one. I would love to hear some details like smokin temp and time. Also what temp was the thigh and breast when you pulled it and was the skin crispy as it looks? I like hickory but found you really have to go light with it on poultry.

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