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17-lb turkey smoke

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Today I'm smoking a 17.7-lb fresh to frozen turket that I got from a Hutterite colony last year. Since it is so large, I'm smoking it beer can-style at 275*. Hopefully that will keep me from being in the danger zone for too long. Many thanks for Walking Dude for his help on this one. Here are my initial pics. More updates as they come . . .

Here's the bird in the brine. My brine consists of water, Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat beer, kosher salt, brown sugar and Tony Chachere's cajun seasoning.

Here's the bird on the can and ready for some smoke. I used a 46 oz apple juice can, which fit the cavity very well. Left half of the apple juice in the can, added a beer and some more cajun seasoning.

I also wanted to share a modification I made yesterday to my MES. I've wanted a more accurate measure of temperature and various locations and I want something that is more permanent than just running a probe in through the vent. So I cut a hole in the side (from the inside and then from the outside) and inserted cork stoppers in from each side (with a small whole drilled all the way through. This allows me to run the probe in from the side at a specific level in the chamber. I will probably add a similar port to the other side of the box at a different height once I'm sure that I like how it's working. Thanks for looking

post #2 of 19
Looking good.
post #3 of 19
Looking forward for some pics when it is done. It sounds like it's going to be awesome.

post #4 of 19
Good start on the turkey my friend. Be careful that the therm case doesn't melt when it is directly attached to the smoker's external wall. I'm speaking from experience, I now have a wooden block that has magnets on one side, and washers on the other side. Block attaches to the smoker, and therm attaches to the block. I haven't had one therm melt since doing this. It's all good, enjoy your smoke.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well after the first hour, I was having trouble maintaining temperature in the chamber. The digitial readout on my MES showed 270+*, but my probe had me at just 199*, which won't cut it, especially on a bird of this size.

I took the water pan out and ten minutes later I'm at 266* on the probe (in the chamber). Hopefully the liquid in the can and the apple juice I'm spritzing with will keep things moist enough. I'll take an interim picture and post it at the two-hour point. I'm interested to see if that first hour with lower temperatures will force me to put the bird in the oven to get out of the danger zone in the fourth hour. Stay tuned . . .
post #6 of 19
Looks good so far. I wouldn't worry about the moisture from the water pan. I've done beer can chickens on the grill and they come out super moist.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
2 hrs in and I'm at 118 degrees deep in the breast . . .

post #8 of 19
Looks great! biggrin.gif
post #9 of 19
Nice job icon_smile.gif. You'll make the temp ok, good catch on removing the water pan.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the compliments!

142* in the breast at the 3-hr mark. Starting to look very pretty and smells wonderful . . .
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Final results . . . the breast hit 168 just after 5 pm for a total smoke time of about 5 hrs, 15 mins. I let it rest (tented) for about half an hour, then carved one breast for dinner (grilled zucchini and garlic french bread on the side). The turkey smelled wonderful as I carved it (very much like the brine I soaked it in) and I found it to be very moist, but I was a bit disappointed in the flavor over all. At the very surface of the breast, I could taste smoke, but much of the breast meat just tasted like normal turkey. It was perfectly good turkey. Just not as smokey as I'd like. I only used maple and I used chips instead of chunks, which I'm starting to think is a mistake with the MES. The chips seems to burn up very fast. Anyone else have any experience with maple? In the past I've smoked turkeys with apple, cherry, and mesquite, with better results in terms of smoke flavor. I also think I could've used more salt in my brine. All in all though, it was a successful smoke and more proof that you CAN smoke a big bird without worrying about the danger zone. Thanks for looking (final pics are below)!

post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Another thought . . . the skin (and fat layer) on this bird was formidable. Thicker than I've ever seen before, which certainly helped keep it moist, but does it also inhibit smoke penetration? I'm reaching here . . . cool.gif
post #13 of 19
good looking bird dude...........and thankx for letting me know i din't post the total length of time it took mine.........i corrected that........

post #14 of 19
Nice lookin turkey there! That be a fine job!
post #15 of 19
Thats a beautiful bird. I can't wait for the cold to end so I can get back outside and start smoking again.
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone!
post #17 of 19
Fine job on that bird!!
post #18 of 19
Beautiful lookin bird....great job!!
post #19 of 19
Looks great. Beautiful color. PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
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