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Why did it take 12 hours to cook an 8# turkey breast?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

The other day I smoked an 8.3# turkey breast at 225 and it took 12 hours for the meat to reach 165.  Being the absolute newbie that I am, I was under the impression that it should have taken about 6-7 hours.  After that 6-7 hour period the internal meat temp was stalled at about 147. 

 

I am trying to figure out what I did wrong, and one person suggested that the 2 MES temp sensors were reading incorrectly.  The 2 temp sensors being the digital "box" temp and the meat probe.

 

I ran several tests comparing the digital "box" temp and the meat probe to a 30-300 degree mercury thermometer graduated in 1degree increments.  I believe that the mercury thermometer is the most accurate of the three, and compared the other readings to it. I used a potato as a holder for the meat probe, and arranged all three probes within about 6” of each other.

 

I set the smoker at 250 degrees and found that, on average, the meat probe read about 4 degrees higher than the mercury thermometer and the digital "box" temp ran about 12 degrees higher than the mercury thermometer.  

 

The second test I ran, I used ice water and then boiling water to test the meat probe, a Thermapen thermometer and my mercury thermometer. I inserted all three probes into the buckets and these two tests all read with in 2 degrees of each other.  So it seems to me that the meat probe is fairly accurate.

 

Assuming I haven’t thoroughly confused you, why did my MES smoker take 12 hours to cook an 8.3# turkey breast to a temp of 165????

 

To be absolutely fair with you, I did open the door 6-7 times to mop the meat and to restart the AMNPS smoke tray.  The temp seemed (?) to recover fairly quickly, but that’s a guess.

post #2 of 15

Was the exhaust wide open....  Moving air transfers heat much better...  like a convection oven...  

 

There is a thing called evaporative cooling...  the meat sweats and thus the meat is cooled...  After smoke has been applied, wrapping the meat in foil, stops the evaporative cooling process....  Some BBQers, wrap the meat in plastic wrap then in foil...  Supposedly, the plastic wrap does not get above the meat temp because the two are touching, the foil protects it, so it's safe to use at higher smoker temps....    I have no idea if that's true or not but, it sounds good to me...

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply, Dave. I don't' remember about the exhaust-but I know it wasn't closed. I'll check next.

Again, thanks
Ba kpacker
post #4 of 15

There is really zero reason to mop. 225 is a cool cooking temp and does not dry the meat much, compared to Mom's Thanksgiving Bird at 350 and Turkey skin is a great barrier at low temps.  As that mop liquid evaporates it cools the meat as Dave described. Next, each time you open the door the recovery time is 15 to 30 minutes added to the cook time. So, You added 5-6 hours by not letting the MES do it's job, Electric smokers are Set and Forget!...JJ

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot, Chef JJ. I'll keep your advice in mind from now on.

Any thoughts on the tests I ran?

Backpacker
post #6 of 15

Hi, You asked for opinions so let me give you mine. 

 

Let's talk about Dave's evaporative theory. He is  RIGHT. To  better understand,cool your bathroom to 70 degrees then take a long hot shower. When you get out that's evaporative cooling..I know the first thing I want is a towel.

I cannot talk about the merits of wrapping but It works Even tho I don't normally do it but I  normally don't smoke Turkey. I would want crisp skin and you won't achieve that low and slow. When I want crisp skin I place pieces on the top[ rack at 275. That means the top rack is higher than 275. Your testing of your thermometers was good.You now have confidence in your equipment. Please be aware of temperature fluctuations. The MES has them  at each shelve and either side of the shelve. A lot of testing has  been done and the result's speak for themselves. Use the  search to find them. 

My take on this is that Smoking meat is not a exact science so why try to make it that way. That comes from one who runs a PID controller.

 The chef has given you the reason your bird took so long.

To summarize Don't mess with the bird  for 5 or 6 hours or till it hits 150 I IT, turn up the heat to crisp up the skin. If you want a sauce put it on in the last 20 or so minutes as you hit  your IT.. Open the door and you extend the cook time 30 minn. When finished then wrap your meat to cool; and stabilize.   Just my Opinions   Jted

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Backpacker048 View Post

Thanks a lot, Chef JJ. I'll keep your advice in mind from now on.

Any thoughts on the tests I ran?

Backpacker

 

The test was a good way to go. I have two MES 40's. My older units meat therm is 15°F shy of what the MAV says the IT is. Masterbuilt sent a replacement but I'm too lazy to mess with it and just go by the MAV732. Smoker number two's meat therm is spot on but I still use the MAV for verification...JJ

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 


MAV, MAV 732 and PID Controller?  Not familiar with this terminology.

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 


MAV, MAV 732 and PID Controller?  Not familiar with this terminology.

 

Thanks, Jted for your response - nice summary, Thanks and will use that in my next cook - which will be my third cook.

 

Backpacker

post #10 of 15

Maverick 732 Dual Probe Therm with Remote Monitor. Lots of folks around here have one or the newer 773 or Bluetooth 735. PID is a precision electric smoker controller, maintains temp +/- 5°F...JJ

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 


Chef JJ, knowing that my meat probe reads several degrees above the actual temp and the digital readout for the "box" reads about 12 degrees higher than actual temp, would you take that info into account and adjust your temps accordingly - or just forget it and go by what you see on the readouts?

post #12 of 15

The therm that measures the Box Temp of the MES is right above the coil, not at the Meat. So it is pretty much useless. You want to know what is happening on the meat rack and the Internal Temp (IT) of the meat. You program the Set Point Temp to the Rack Temp you want and are monitoring. Be aware this will fluctuate as the MES cycles, so you are looking for an average of say 225 or 250. Example: You want 225...You make the MES Set Point 225...You watch for 30 minutes. The Rack Temp is 245, 240, 238, 228, 220 then starts climbing again. The Average Temp is 232.5, a bit too high. You lower the Set Point to 220 and wait 30 minutes and monitor again. The temp is now swinging between 235 and 215. The average is 225  even though the Set Point is 220...All is good, take a Nap...This is why so many have a MAV or other remote therm. the Bonus is the MAV has Hi/Low temp Alarms. We program the Hi Alarm to 250 and the Low Alarm to 200...Let say a Grease Fire starts in the MES while you Nap. The Temp shoots up to 260. The Hi Alarm goes off, you wake up and go put out the Fire. Like wise, the Power goes out. Once the Smoker temp drops below 200, the Low Alarm goes off and again you go see what's wrong...Don't just go by the MES built in temp monitoring...JJ

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 


So which MAV would you recommend?

 

Backpacker

post #14 of 15

Mav 732...Tried and true. Basic and straight forward.  733...A few more bells an whistles...JJ

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks, again, Chef.

Backpacker
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