Ok quick description, qview and then write up.
I decided I wanted to try cured Smoked Turkey Breast and slice it for sandwhich meat and it came out great! This was my first time doing so and I experimented with a few things that worked out well and I will go into that in more detail but first QVIEW!!!!
The quick facts:
- Turkey Weight: approx. 5 pounds (from a 7 pound turkey breast I had to debone)
- Smoker Temp: 275F
- Total Cook Time: 4hrs 1min to an IT of 165F in the breast across 3 probes
- Smoke Applied for: 3hrs 50min, I applied double smoke by lighting 2 rows of my AMNPS and it ran out at that point, I did not cut short on purpose
- Wood Used for Smoke: 50% pure Hickory and 50%/Pit Boss Competition Blend pellets (which is approximately 50-60% Maple, 20-25% Cherry, 20-25% Hickory)
- Brined for 25 hours with 1 tsp Cure #1, a heaping 1/3 cup of salt, close to 1/4 cup of Brown Sugar, Jalapeno mush left over from my strained injectible marinade for my whole turkey smoke the day before, and approximately 2 liters (64 oz) of water, all blended together in the blender and put into a bucket with the breast and meat pieces
- Seasoned with Black Pepper, Garlic (granulated), and Dehydrated Onion flakes after being pulled from the brine and being patted dry with paper towels
My goal was to try cured Turkey Breast and prepare/smoke it in a fashion that would hold together so it could be sliced for sandwich meat. I also wanted to try out my new Chef's Choice 615 meat slicer and non-serrated blade. I figured I would learn a few things in this process and see what did and didn't work :)
- I defrosted the Turkey breast (bone in, which included the upper back) over about 6 days but it was probably done within 4 days
- I removed the skin and deboned the breast meat along with any big chunks that came off the upper back of the bird (the bone in breast comes with the upper back attached to the breast)
- I put the breast, additional chunks of meat and all brine into a bucket, sealed, and put in the fridge
- Brined for 25 hours, see the "quick facts" above for the brine solution mixture. Yes the brine included cure to get that great cured smoked turkey flavor
- Seasoned all meat all over with Black Pepper, granulated Garlic, and dehydrated Onion flakes
- Put any separate meat chunks in between the two big breast cuts and tied together as tightly as I could to try and get a solid chunk of meat so it would all cook together and stick
- Put tied breast on a rib/roast rack and put rack in a foil pan
- The cook was pretty straight forward. I was able to set and maintain a smoker temp of 275F and went until all 3 of my meat probes read 165F IT of the breast.
- I did at 275F rather than a higher temp because I had no skin to deal with on the turkey and the extra time would allow for extra smoke to be applied
- I also did 275F as I have found with chicken breast that the longer it sits in the smoker the dryer it will get so I wanted this to remain in the smoker the least amount of sensible time possible while still getting the desired smoke
- I applied pure Hickory pellets and Pit Boss Competition Blend in a 50/50 combination. I learned from my whole turkey smoke the day before that the turkey could handle more hardcore smoke so I went with 50% pure Hickory this time around
- I applied double smoke by lighting 2 rows of my AMNPS knowing that the cook would be fairly quick
The Post Cook Prep/Slicing:
- I pulled the meat from the smoker and let rest for about 20 minuted before messing with it
- I cut the cotton string from the meat after debating on letting it stay on.
- The meat held together pretty well but I noticed that as it rested more longer it seemed to show signs of wanting to separate in areas where separate pieces of meat were mashed together
- I let set another 20 minutes and then decided to vac seal the breast so that it would be forced to hold together and would be unable to come apart
- I let it rest another 20 minutes after vac sealed and put it in the fridge over night
- Let it set in the fridge over night
- Put in the freezer for 2 hours before slicing, this was to help it hold together for the slicing
- After the 2 hours of freezing I cut off the back end of the meat to make it flat (had already cut off the other end the day before for sampling hahaha)
- Took the cut off end and sliced it on #2 thin slicing setting of the meat slicer, it held together fairly well
- I continued to slice the rest of the turkey breast and I was glad to see it holding together fairly well and was completely acceptable
- I vac sealed and put in freezer
- The Turkey Breast came out superb in flavor and was what I was expecting!!!!!
- I give the texture of the Turkey and the slices a B+ and I'm not sure I could really improve upon having it all hold together even more. It meets expectations.
- The Turkey was juicy, flavorful, and perfect texture for sandwich meat
- The Brine with the cure was very good though I would not brine for any longer or I would reduce the salt content a little bit. The small ends of the breast were a tad salty but the normal/thick areas were fine. We can always do with a little less salt though so it wouldn't hurt to cut back a little.
- The seasoning gave amazing flavor which is always the case when you have Salt (from the brine), Black Pepper, Garlic, and Onion. The Trueky flavor is sooooo good!
- The color was beautiful! That redish brown color is a visual meal in itself
- For the most part there is not much I would change but I guess I would start with cutting down the Brine salt a little
- I would definitely vac seal again while putting in the fridge, as I think this was a very key for it holding together so well and I will actually be vac sealing as soon as it is cool enough to vac seal rather than waiting as long as I did
- Freezing 2 hours for slicing was also a good idea that paid off big. I know to do this with other sliced meat type items but I have never sliced anything that consisted of smashed together whole pieces of meat that could come apart so I had high hopes and it paid off.
- The cure gave that great cured Turkey flavor I was hoping for but I DON'T think it is mandatory and I would like to try my next attempt without cure to compare the two results
- The Jalapeno mush left over from my injectable marinade strain turned out to be a great surprise with the flavor. The Jalapeno imparted flavor was a nice unexpected bonus so I am glad I did it. I wont' make it a normal brine ingredient but it is nice to know that throwing 5 large Jalapenos in a blender can import a bunch of great flavor and just a small touch of heat that seems more like strong black pepper heat than chile pepper heat. What a pleasant surprise.
- Going with the pure Hickory as half my overall pellet volume blended with the PBCB pellets as the other half was a great choice as well. It gave me the hardier smoke flavor I was missing from my Whole Turkey smoke the day before. I learned, applied, and scored a win here!
- The Chef's Choice 615 is like 10 times the improvement over the old Cabela's slicer I was bother from my father hahaha. I also bought and used the non-serrated slicing blade upon the comments of other 615 owners and I had no issues. It was also a breeze to clean rather an a chore. I'm glad I went for it.
I think that is it for my smoke. Feel free to ask any questions and give any feedback. I hope this helps anyone who would like to do the same thing. Thanks! :)