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18lb Turkey need some help...

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

While I understand the 10-12lb Turkeys are a much better size for the smoker I've had this 18lb Turkey in the freezer since Thanksgiving and its time to make some room.


I'll be using the MES 40 with AMNPS -  I'm thinking cherry?


The bird is currently in the Slaughterhouse brine after that I plan to dry the bird/skin in the fridge for 24hrs.


Here is the plan...


Currently I have removed the backbone from the bird as my original intention was to spatch but I think I might try to just crack it open a bit and smoke it like that so it will fit on the rack nicely. 


My question is will my cook time still be somewhat reduced? I plan to keep the MES40 at its max 275, at that setting my Maverick shows the top rack at around 300 I'm hoping this will get me out of the danger zone in 4hrs? I will keep a close eye on the internal temp and if I'm not going to make it after 3 - 3 1/2 hours I'll put it in the oven to finish.


Here is (another members) picture of what I plan to do.


Does my plan sound ok? Do you guys think I should just cut it in half?


What kind of cook time should I expect with that backbone removed?


Any suggestions or comments are greatly appreciated.

post #2 of 21

I wouldn't cook chicken over anything else.   Don't expect real crisp skin....it'll look great and taste great but the skin will still be so so.    You'll still have a tasty meal!

post #3 of 21

You will have to measure what you are working with. You need 2 inches around any meat in the MES for sufficient convection to cook evenly. If you split the bird and open it up and it virtually fills the rack, front to back and side to side you will need to cut it into two halves and use two racks.  At the 275-300° range you can figure on about 25 minutes per pound cook time + or - 5 minutes. Usually the skin will not crisp so if the skin is not Crisp enough, when the IT is 145*F in the Breast, put the Bird in a 425*F Oven to finish cooking to 165* and Crisp the Skin...JJ


You may enjoy this recipe...



Smokey Turkey Gravy


1- Lg Onion,

4-5 Carrots,

3-4 Ribs Celery

3-4 Peeled Cloves of Garlic

Toss them in a pan under the Turkey, and let the whole deal Smoke for one hour,

THEN add 4-6 Cups Chicken Broth,

1/2tsp Dry Thyme (4-5 sprigs Fresh)

1/2tsp Dry Sage (2 sprigs Fresh)

1-2 ea Bayleaf

Finish the Smoking process to the IT you want.

While the Turkey is resting, dump the pan juices, veggies and all into a 2-3Qt Sauce pot and bring the Jus to a boil, lower the heat and simmer 20-30 minutes. Strain out the veggies and let the Jus rest a minute or so for the Fat to rise. Skim off the bulk of the fat then using strips of paper towel laid on top of the Jus then quickly removed, take off the last little bit of fat.Bring the Jus back to a simmer. Mix 2T Flour and 4T Chicken Broth for each Cup of defatted Jus. Whisk together to make a Slurry with no lumps, add a little additional Broth if needed. Whisk the Slurry into the simmering Jus, bring back to a simmer and cook 5-10 minutes to cook out the flour taste and fully thicken the Gravy. Adjust the seasoning with Salt and Pepper and serve.

The purpose of Smoking the Vegetable for 1 hour before adding the Broth and Herbs is...The Smoked vegetables Roast in the Dry heat concentrating their Flavors and Sweetness giving the finished Jus a Richer, Deeper, Full Flavor.

Serve the sliced Turkey with plenty of Gravy and Enjoy...



Edited by Chef JimmyJ - 5/9/14 at 8:30pm
post #4 of 21

To help with the crisp, be sure and open the package, dry the fowl, and leave it uncovered over night in the reefer. This helps dehydrate the skin helping promote a crisp skin. It should also help form a pellicle which is a smoke magnet!


I always leave fowls in one piece if possible. I was brought up old school and everytime you cut it, you are opening a spot for fluids to drain.


I would suggest with an 18 lber. I believe I would go low and slow to insure tender meat (That also depends a lot upon the type turkey). !0 or 12 lb., no problem with the fast and hot. But 18 up may take a gentle hand. Just a thought. It will still be juicy, but if a large breast it could be tuff, tuffer than need be anyway.


Remember that 4 hours to a 140 IT, you'll easily make it and remember that 165 IT in the breast is where to want to pull. Don't forget to allow it to rest 30 mins to and hour. Hide the knives!  LOL.


Either cherry or apple is a tuff pellet to keep lite solo. If you see troubles lighting and maintaining smoke throw in some mix to help it along. Pecan, hickory & oak all come to mind.


Just relax and enjoy your smoke. Its really a mental thing, have fun.


Remember smoking is 20% preparation, 5% blind luck, and 80% patience. It really easy we just let that get around, it hurts the image.

post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys for the responses.


Chef Jimmy, I plan on using your Turkey Gravy recipe thanks for sharing.


I'm going to take some of your suggestions and put them to good use. I think, I'll lower the temp to 250 for the first couple of hours and will probably mix cherry and hickory.


Thanks again and I'll be sure to post some Q-View.

post #6 of 21

Keep your heat maxed as far as those electrons will go.... you'll have a better result. 

post #7 of 21

You're welcome...JJ

post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 

Ok shes out of the brine...



patted down and Into the fridge to let that skin dry off.



Any suggestions on seasoning.. I was planning on rubbing a little EVOO on the skin a little salt, pepper, garlic powder, and maybe a light dusting of some creole seasoning. Was also thinking about leaving out salt because of the brine and the creole seasoning probably has salt in it also.


Do I need to season / butter under the skin or will the brine be plenty of flavor? I don't want to over season...


Thanks again guys I just really want to impress my guests and the wife for mothers day.

post #9 of 21

Personally I try to limit the amount of enhancements so I can realize how each will effect the outcome.


If you are brining let the brining speak for the bird. Its Ok to put spices on the skin because it will not carry thru. If its on the skin it won't get to the meat.


I wouldn't add breast butter, brining should more than accomplish the flavor enhancement. I have now changed my opinion again, and realized scientifically speaking that oil added for moisture can not get into a liquid based meat without some type procedure. Water and oil don't mix. Butter would add another taste. Oh and I am sure someday down the road I will change my view back, I have already changed twice now. But hot butter is still oil. Save the butter for the next smoke you do when not brining and see what you thing.



These are just my opinions, and I am not serving my mother, mother-in-law, family, or yours. You should do was what you think is best. Everyone is different and opinions are like...... well we all have one and we all think everyone else's stinks unless they agree with us. It just takes trial and error to figure out what you want.

post #10 of 21

I make a compound butter and rub it under every inch of skin i can get my fingers under. That is after brining over night w/ a brine w/ 1/2 the salt called for. Smoke in my MES 40 at max temp. Just goes to show you the differences in technique and the way we do things. Good thing is ,they all work.

post #11 of 21

Nice Name!!

post #12 of 21

Here are the Recipe I use. The Rub is essentially Creole Seasoning with Sugar and the extra Herbs of the Poultry Seasoning, a nice combo...JJ


Bubba Chix Rub


1/2C Raw Sugar

2T Paprika (I use Smoked if I'm just Grilling)

1T Cayenne

1T Gran. Garlic

1T Gran. Onion

1tsp Black Pepper

1tsp Wht Pepper

1tsp Allspice

1tsp Bell's Poultry Seasoning or Thyme


Mix well. You can put directly on the skin or mix with Butter, Oil or Bacon Grease and rub on and under the Skin.

Reduce Cayenne to 1 teaspoon if less heat is desired. Add 1T Kosher Salt if the bird is not Brined.


Place a pan with some veggies under the Turkey to make some Gravy. Here's a recipe. 



Edited by Chef JimmyJ - 5/10/14 at 5:42pm
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Morning Wood View Post

Nice Name!!


post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 

Well just wanted to say thank you to all for making this smoke a success!!!


I ended up pushing the MES40 to the pins.. Temp stayed between 275 - 288 Deg. used cherry and a little apple in the AMNPS. It took 3hrs and 20mins to hit the 140 deg mark.Over all cook time was about 5 and a half hours.


I also used Chef Jimmys gravy recipe and made some ABT's.





This was my first plate.. The crowd was very pleased and can't wait for my next smoke.


Hope you enjoy the QVIEW!

Happy Smokin!

post #15 of 21

 Awesome!! :drool: Mighty tasty looking plate of food!!

post #16 of 21

Great looking cook!    :Looks-Great:

post #17 of 21

Looks really good, excellent job. I see smoked turkey as a Mother's day tradition now!

post #18 of 21

Nice Job. How did the Smoked Gravy go over? It can be a little jarring to those that are expecting to taste Grandma's Gravy...JJ

post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 

To be honest there were a few guests that as you mentioned found it a little jarring, to much smoke flavor for them, but overall it went over great!


Two family members asked me for the recipe and wanted to bring it home with their goodie bags!


Thanks Again!

post #20 of 21

Great. Feel free to share...JJ

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