Ok quick description, qview and then write up.
I did my 1st Whole Turkey today and it came out great! This was an experiment in many ways and I will go into that in more detail but first QVIEW!!!!
Lines on the skin of the 3rd pic are caused by the turkey leaning over on the rack as noticeable in the 1st pic
Deboned. Green tinted juice/color is from the Jalapeno I add to the injectable marinade!!!!
The quick facts:
- Turkey Weight: 16 pounds
- Smoker Temp: hmmm did my best for 325F, will explain more further down
- Total Cook Time: 3hrs 45min to an IT of 165F in the breast
- Smoke Applied for: 3hrs 45 min, I applied double smoke by lighting 2 rows of my AMNPS
- Wood Used for Smoke: Pit Boss Competition Blend pellets (approximately 50-60% Maple, 20-25% Cherry, 20-25% Hickory)
- Seasoning/Brine/Marinade: Injected with a doctored up Tony Cachere's Creole Butter injectable marinade, seasoned outside with Tony Cacheres creole seasoning
Every year I do a deep fried turkey for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. I have a go-to injectable marinade I came up with a number of years ago and the deep fried turkey comes out amazing!
My goal was to test and try and replicate a smoked Turkey version while also learning about smoking a whole turkey and how my setup would respond.
- I let the frozen turkey defrost in the fridge for 4 days in it's packaging and then unwrapped and let it defrost and have the skin dry up some in the fridge for the 5th day of defrosting. I wanted the dried skin to help create/ensure edible skin
- I prepared my injectible marinade which is peppery, savory, and a little sweet:
- 1 Bottle of Tony Cachere's Creole Butter injectable marinade (17 floz)
- 5 Large Jalapenos (green)
- Approx. 8 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar (seems like a lot but the marinade is savory/salty so this much sugar is needed to impart some sweetness and help balance the peppers) - I will get an accurate measure of this the next time I make it
- Put in a blender and put on liquify setting
- Strain to separate liquid and pulp, leave liquid in a bowl for injecting
- Inject the turkey all over but focus mostly on the breast
- Setup Turkey to sit upright on my vertical roasting rack right before taking it out to place in smoker
The cook was pretty straight forward. Just go to 165F IT in the deep breast tissue and have the smoker at 325F.
Well, I had some trouble with mysetup holding at 325F. Thank goodness I run 3 smoker probes.
So I think my main smoker probe was blocked (being under the pan the turkey rested on lol) so It never really got more than 280F.
HOWEVER, my probe that sits on the hot side of the smoker was always between 325F and 345F.
My probe on the opposite side of the rack/smoker was always 300-311F.
So I just kind of split the difference assuming the turkey in the middle was between those two ranges hahaha.
Also I knew it would be a fast smoke and I know the Pit Boss Competition Blend (PBCB) is a little on the light side so I did a double smoke by lighting two rows of the AMNPS as I often do in a situation like this.
- The Turkey came out quite well
- Skin was completely edible and on the hotter side of the smoker that skin was even crispy :)
- The Turkey was JUICY all over. I threw out more than half a pan of juice and Turkey drippings (including the fat/grease) !
- The smoke was good though I would have loved a little heavier smoke even though I doubled up. What I found is that the Turkey is a much bigger piece of meat so it can handle a quite harder smoke than what I gave it and do well
- The marinade was good and had the kind of flavor I was expecting, though I could have done a better job of injecting the breast, I used too light of a touch it seems
- The color was good though the skin had some blemishes due to leaning on the rack some, I can fix this
- Next time around I will be more aggressive with marinating the breast and not worry so much about moisture of the marinade undoing the dryness of the skin that I achieved from by letting the turkey sit uncovered in the fridge
- I will use my big single vertical chicken/turkey rack next time so the turkey sits up better and the skin doesn't get marks from leaning against the current rack.
- I will be read to eyeball the temp to try and get my desired set temp without having to work any magic. I think using the other rack and a more streamlined pan setup will give me more even temps.
- I will move my middle rack probe from being under the pan that the turkey sits in so it gives me a more accurate "at turkey" level temp reading
- I will add/use some stronger wood for smoking. I would love to do a pure Pecan smoke or I will blend 50% fruit wood with 50% Hickory or Mesquite. I think the turkey will have no problem handling the stronger wood and will greatly benefit from it.
- The Tony Cachere's Creole Butter injectable marinade seems to be a completely acceptable approach to save time if not wanting to brine or not having time to brine a whole turkey
- I have a feeling that brining the Turkey may produce a better "traditional smoked" turkey where my approach was a little more of an exotic Turkey taste/dish. My exotic version came out great but I would never expect to be presented with it at a BBQ joint, I would have different expectations for a Turkey at a BBQ joint
- Smoked Turkey is NOT a substitute for Smoked Chicken and vice versa. They are simply different cuts of meat so it's best to think of it the same way we think pork is not a substitute for beef. Turkey and Chicken are both birds but they do not taste that close to one when smoked. Used raw to make a soup they may be close to one another in tasted but not when it comes to the smoker.
I think my next whole Turkey experiment will be a cured and brined whole Turkey.
I deboned a 7 pound turkey breast and am brining and curing it now to then tie together, smoke, and possibley slice like lunch meat. Well see if I go through all the trouble of slicing it.
As for my next whole Turkey experiment, it may be a while, I have a lot of turkey to go through from this last one and this curing turkey breast I plan to smoke tomorrow or the day after.
I hope this info helps someone out there and please feel free to add anything or ask any questions. Thanks!! :)