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Smoked turkey is my favorite food - HELP ME?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

For a long time, quality cooked turkey has been my grocery of choice. I have made sandwiches, wraps, casseroles, tur-duck-in, soups, turkey-with-stuffing, and turkey lunchmeat by itself. I LOVE TURKEY. 


I'm 34 years old, married 10 years with 4 children. I work as a web developer, have been a computer service technician, network administrator, business manager, CEO, hedge fund manager, professional assistant, and plumbing wholesale salesman. I live in Utah, I'm a Mormon. I'm an objectivist, capitalist, libertarian, movie lover, gamer, hunter, prepper, and newsie. My favorite book is Atlas Shrugged and my favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption (with Live Free, Die Hard as a close second).


I'm an amateur aspiring meat smoker.


I have been a BBQer for my entire adult life, and have cooked more meals over propane and charcoal than anyone I know except my dad (dutch-oven is his style). About 5 months ago, the company where I work was accepted by Green Mountain Grills (GMG) as their regional wholesaler. I was in the market for a new BBQ because I sold mine before my last move. My brother, who runs the HVAC side of our family business (and also sells Vermont Casting BBQs), started telling me I should by a pellet smoker instead of a propane grill. I was unsure, but after a trip to his friends small cabin nearby and one meal of bratwurst on his GMG smoker I WAS HOOKED. I enjoyed cooking on it as much as eating from the smoker.


I asked my brother to order me one and then discovered that in August they were releasing a few of their products with WiFi controls! As a life-long computer geek, and an all-winter BBQer, I was interested. So mid-August, I got my smoker and started experimenting.


After lots of hot dogs, sausages, bratwurst and one brisket (too much mustard somehow), I had my first big failure: hamburgers cooked at the same time as brats. The brats were 190 degrees and the burgers, which looked done, were still raw in the middle. I had family over and was embarrassed. I tried again the next day with my newfound knowledge and made possibly the best burgers of my life.


Then it got real: I went turkey-shopping. But in late August, I couldn't find any whole turkeys. I bought two large turkey breasts and got to work. I tried one just slow smoked and it was okay, then I read about brining them and my second was incredible! The stuff of legends!.Only challenge was the skin. It was rubbery, uncuttable and uneatable. As a fat guy, I value the skin above all else. I've made 6 turkey breasts since and have tried a host of things: temperature variations, butter inside and outside the skin, different brines, super-hot cycle (400 degrees) at the end of the cooking cycle. All to no avail. 


While reading a post on TheBlaze this week, I posted that smoked turkey was my favorite option between 1)cooked and 2)fried. Then I requested tips from other turkey-smokers about the skin. One of the users referred me to this site. And here I am, on a quest for answers! One answer, actually (for now).



post #2 of 9

Sorry  I cant help as I have never done a whole bird , but I would like to welcome you to the forum and i'm sure someone with more knowledge than me will be along to help soon.

post #3 of 9

I would also post this in the poultry forum where it is more likely to be seen

post #4 of 9

Peking duck the bird is hung up a gallons of boiling hot water is poured over the duck. This is the first step in preparing the duck for the rest of the cooking. The skin of Peking duck is renowned for it's crisp texture. Perhaps this will also work. I would research the details for preparing Peking duck.

post #5 of 9
A few tips to help the skin along. Air dry the bird. Do this in the fridge 8-12 hours. Bird should be not covered. Pat dry prior to putting in fridge If the bird still isn't dry, or you don't have the time, right before smoking hit the bird high a hair dryer on low.

Stay away from oils and butter in on or under the skin. Avoid rubs with sugar. SPOG (Salt Pepper Onion Garlic) with some paprika or chipotle is all that's needed.

If it's a whole bird do not stuff the cavity. I highly recommend using the spatchcock method. You get an even cook and it does in my opinion help the skin.

Number one factor pit temp. Get that smoker above 325, and preferably 350+. Also make sure it's a smoker with good airflow. No air flow will lock in To much moisture and that will ruin the skin.

Fuel type can contribute to the skin also. Propane/natural gas adds moisture. Electric usually means the smoke chamber is tighter so moisture retention is greater. Charcoal and wood both require good air flow to combust properly, thus allowing the moisture to escape. For the past several years I only cook poultry on my Mini-WSM or UDS. Both can achieve high temps and both have great airflow. If needed both can sear to finish the skin but if your smoking at temps above 350 that shouldn't be required.
post #6 of 9
Welcome, from southern Ohio, to the best forum on the internet if you are looking to learn how to BBQ/smoke/brine/cure/inject. Well you get the picture if you can do it to to something you put on a plate to eat then someone here has probably done it. Use the search bar at the top of the page and you will be led to the answer to most every question you can think of. If you don't find the answer there then just post it and someone will chime in with their opinion on the subject.

dirtsailor2003 has you covered!! Dry skin will crisp up much better and using a pellet pooper insures you have good air flow.

Always remember the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask!!
Keep Smokin!!!
post #7 of 9

Glad you joined the group. The search bar at the top of any page is your best friend.
About anything you wanna know about smoking/grilling/curing/brining/cutting or slicing
and the list goes on has probably been posted. Remember to post a QVIEW of your smokes.
We are all smoke junkies here and we have to get our fix. If you have questions
Post it and you will probably get 10 replies with 11 different answers. That is
because their are so many different ways to make great Q...

Dirtsailor has you covered.
Happy smoken.

post #8 of 9

texas.gif  Good morning and welcome to the forum, from a sunny, windy and cold day in East Texas. Lots of great people with tons of                    information on just about  everything 



post #9 of 9

Poultry skin is one of the hardest things to get right. As pointed out the most important thing is to get your smoker hotter if you want crispy skin, also salt really helps get skin crispy as well. Another option that a friend of mine used to do in competition was to pre-grill the skin on a hot BBQ for about 10-15 minutes, then into the smoker. It started the rendering process and got a nice bit of crisp going.


Good luck!

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