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First Turkey

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I got a wild hair last night and found myself at my local grocery store picking out a 19 lb turkey. Smallest one they had. I brined it overnight. I rinsed the bird and looked at it then looked at my MES 30 and start to rethink my stategy. A pair of kitchen scissors, a butcher knife and ten minutes later and i had two halves of a turkey. They fit perfectly with room to spare around the sides on my MES 30 racks. Patted dry with paper towels and threw on some tasty rub.


Warmed up the smoker and filled the bowl with some apple juice. Hickory and apple were the flavors of the day. Started at 275 for an hour then lowered to 225 for the remainder. I added wood every hour. Finished faster than I expected at just over 3 hours. I pulled it when the internal of the breast was165. I let them rest for 30 minutes before carving it up. Nice smokey flavor and juicey to boot. I obviously did not end up with an evenly crispy skin this way. I suppose you could always pull it early and finish in the oven



It was a little bit on the salty side. Not way over the top salty but i either used too much salt in the brine (not likely, brine called for 1/2 cup kosher salt to 1.5 gallons water), brined too long (12 hours) or the combo of the brine and the rub was just a bit too much salt. What do you all think? 


Well, im loving my new smoker so far. I've tried chicken wings, pork shoulder, brisket and now the turkey. Sorry i didnt document the first few adventures. I got a bit too excited to take pics. Expect more from me in the near future. 



post #2 of 4
Nice looking turkey. A couple thoughts for you. In order to get the crisp skin you have to keep the heat high, and typically higher than 325. Also by adding the juice to your water pan you create steam which will counter act the heat and turn the skin to rubber. A dry smoke chamber is better. You do not need moisture in the smoker to get juicy moist meat and adding juices and other flavored stuff into the pan doesn't add flavor.

You say you pat dried the bird. With poultry air drying for 12+ hours in the fridge is the best way to dry out the skin which helps crisp it up. If you don't have the time to do this step them after pat drying the bird and just before putting it in the smoker hit the bird with a hair dryer on low.

As you found out cutting the bird in half or even spatchcocking the bird will reduce the cooking time greatly. Using either method also allows the bird to cook evenly which reduces the chance of the breast drying out before the thigh is done.

For the over saltiness, was the bird a fresh organic non-enhanced bird? Or was it enhanced? Packaging would say. If it was enhanced they pump the birds with a solution that adds moisture to the bird and can also contain sodium. It is always best to read the package and if enhanced don't brine or leave out the salt. If I plan on brining I order a non-enhanced bird. I'll the others I just rub and smoke.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Some great advice here, thank you. As far as no water bowl goes, would you just do this with poultry or are you not a fan of a water bowl for any kind of meat?

Next time I'll try it at my max temp of 275 and hope for crispier skin. Will also not be in such a hurry and air dry in the fridge. Awesome advice.

Next, I had already thrown out the package so I didn't know for sure if this was an enhanced bird or not but I had a suspicion that it was. Went back to my local grocery store to confirm this and low and behold...so next time I'll try getting a bird somewhere else.

Thanks for all the great advice. Can't wait to try it again.

post #4 of 4

Make your Hobby worth the while and pass some fun to your Children . . .


Get a spiral notebook and record all your experiences , good or bad , and watch your proficiency improve. . .



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