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The analysis of my first turkey smoke yesterday

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Sorry this is sorda long but here goes…

Being very new to this smoking thing, I did as much research as I could on smoking a turkey before yesterday. What I found was a dizzying array of different options and a wide variety of instructions as far as “do’s†and “don’t do’s†are concerned. Well, I am excited to say I have come through to the other side and have received really good reviews after smoking my first Turkey. I will admit I really took a chance by doing my very first bird for our office Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. I have always deep fried our turkeys and can do that blindfolded (I don’t recommend actually doing that thoughPDT_Armataz_01_23.gifPDT_Armataz_01_12.gif ).

I wanted to put my experiences down for the other newbies on this site to review. Those who have been doing this a while will find some things that you don’t agree with but I have always been able to glean from others experiences.

First let me say, while there are some general directives you will want to follow, you have a great deal of latitude in options beyond those. My original plan was to find a fresh bird (not previously injected with solution) to brine, inject and smoke. Everything I read says not to brine a previously inject bird. Instead, I could not find a fresh bird so I bought a 12 ¼ lb butterball that had been previously injected with a 7% solution. I brined the bird for approximately 10 hours in the recipe DeeJayDebi has on her website minus the onion power (I did not have any) plus McCormicks Turkey Rub. Here is her recipe:
1 gallon water
1/3 cup salt ( sea or kosher)
3/4 teaspoon Garlic Power
3/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
3/4 teaspoon Cajun Spice

Due to time constraints, I did not have time to inject the bird with anything. I figured the next one will be injected for comparison. I rubbed the bird down with McCormicks Turkey Rub wrapped it in plastic wrap, stuck it in the cooler and out the door I went. I was setup at the office and put the bird in at 7:00 am. I put it in the middle rack of my vertical propane water smoker with the breast toward the back and breast up. I wanted to be able to eat the skin; we like it crispy so I set the smoker on high (loaded, it will reach 325º to 330º no higher). I sprayed apple juice every 45 minutes to an hour after it reached and internal temperature of 90º. I must say I was a little concerned about the smoke as it initially was billowing out of the smoker at those high temperatures. Eventually, I did start getting the thin blue smoke talked about on here. The bird reached 170º at 10:30 (3½ hours later). I took it off the smoker wrapped it in aluminum foil and a towel and stuck it back in the cooler. We planned on carving at 11:15. At 11:15 I took the bird out and began carving.

I was very happy to see the juices coming from the meat. The hickory permeated the entire bird and the taste was very good. The dark meat was most excellent. It was tender, moist, and succulent. The white meat was only somewhat moist so I will be very interested to see if the one I inject next week will offer up a more moist white meat. I suspect it will. The skin was still not as good as I had hoped and had to discard it but I suppose I be happy to sacrifice the skin for a good smoke flavored meat.

For Thanksgiving I plan on smoking a butt and a bird together. That means the turkey will be smoked at a temperature of 250º. My plan is to inject it and once it reaches 140º remove it and place it in the oven in an attempt to make the skin eatable. I’m not sure the 140º temp is the right time to remove it and put it in the oven so some of you experts can chime in on that.

Let me say thanks to all of you for your input as it was truly helpful in making this smoke a success.

post #2 of 21
Another satisfied customer! GREAT job, Gadawg!

And at 140°, I'd say it skin crispin' time...oven it at 3 anna half°.

PS: Check yer oven...mine is 35° off to the low and it's digital.
post #3 of 21
Sounds like you did a fine job, I'm glad for ya. PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif I wonder if putting the cooked bird in foil and back in the cooler caused the problem with the skin? I'm with you, I LOVE crispy skin. icon_biggrin.gif
post #4 of 21
Ahhh. Good point, Terry..I mist that..
post #5 of 21
Sounds like everything worked out pretty well. Congratulations! PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif

On the dry breast, I would recommend pulling out the bird at around 160 vs. the 170, especially if you are going to let it rest.......as it is resting and especially if you are going to wrap it and put it in a cooler, the temp will continue to rise.

The skin will stay better for you if you don't wrap and put in a cooler, just tent with foil...........of course you can't hold it as long, but the skin shouldn't get soggy on you then.

For the bird that is going into the oven, I would pull it out lower than 140 (maybe 110 or so), but I stop it cooking at a lower temp as well. If it is being cooked with the butt at 250 or so, it will have had plenty of chance to get smoky by then.

Just my 2 cents, take it FWIW........about 2 cents. LOL Sounds like you have a good grasp on what opinions are worth anyhow from your post. icon_mrgreen.gif

Thanks for the post and sharing..........next time we expect some pics!
post #6 of 21
I glad to hear it worked out for you! Way to go!
post #7 of 21
Damn, 3 posts in the time it took me to type mine. LOL I need more speed in the fingers. LOL There was nothing when I started.
post #8 of 21
Low and slow is a virtue, FB :{)
post #9 of 21
Good play by play gadawgsr1.... Glad to here it was a success!PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #10 of 21
ooops! yeah good POINT<s> grin
post #11 of 21
Yeah, but I am so low and slow I am just dehydrating........I need to cook. LOL
post #12 of 21
belly chuckle there...I feel yer pain!
post #13 of 21
there's a post somewhere here, that talks bout using mayo or mw.......rub it on the skin...........smoke at 250........at the skin gets real crisp.......can't remember who posted it tho........

post #14 of 21
post #15 of 21
once again......you the man fbj

post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
I read that post last week and even gave it thought but I wanted to have a "baseline smoke" if you will. I can build from this one as I pretty much used what I would consider to be the smoking basics on this one. I will try that technique next week as I will be cooking at 250 for about 10 hours anyway.

Thanks so much for all of the input all of you are the best.

Thanks again
post #17 of 21
Sounds good GaDawg! You'll definately see a juicier bird brined and injected! I inject it with brine water before the brining starts too makes the spices get inside.

If you smoke the bird at 250 throw it in first at 350 for about 30 minutes to render the skin then bring your temps down for the butt. That'll keep the skin crispy - or smoke them together but throw the bird in the oven at high heat to crispy it up. Not as crispy but better than just a 250 smoke.
post #18 of 21

Good Job

PDT_Armataz_01_37.gifSounds wonderful. I am planing my first on t-day and hope it turns out good enough to eat. Keep up the good work.
post #19 of 21
If your smoking outside right beside your grill, I have been known to fire up the grill to about 350 and toss the T-bird on the grill to crisp up the skin. That skin was GOOD!

Here's some Q-view for ya!

post #20 of 21
Well that would have been me. I've used mayo on the birds for years now, it seals the skin and keeps the meat juicy. An old lady in Oregon taught me that years ago. It also turns a really nice color as it roasts too. I've yet to try it smoking a turkey though, I've always done it in the oven this way. I also stop about 10º short of the recommended temp and end up with a really good juicy bird. I figure they set those tables a tad on the hight side for safety. I'm brining a 13 pounder tonight and will inject it too per Debbie's method. I plan to do the mayo trick and smoke to 120º and finish it off hot in the oven to crisp and brown the skin.

I swear by the mayo (or MW if you want) nothing better on a turkey and it has no taste itself.
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