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Turkey and timing question

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
My wife needs me to have a turkey smoked for her class at school (Thanksgiving Feast). I really don't want to babysit this all night to have it ready for her to take to school Monday morning, so....if I smoke it Sunday evening and wrap it in foil and refrigerate, then reheat early Monday morning and put it in a cooler to stay warm, will it turn out good? I want it to turn out good, and I can monitor it through the night if that is the best thing, she needs it ready for her to take to school Monday morning. How should I handle it?
post #2 of 26

Turkey Smoke

I'm doing a turkey for thanksgiving myself. This will be the second time for this. From what I understand, I didn't do last years correctly. I smoked at too low of a temp (225-250) and it took me several hours. What I have been reading is the turkey should be smoked at around 300-325 and for a 9# turkey, it should only take a 2-3 hours. The internal temp of the breast should be 165.

This is what I found in another thread:
Raceyb submitted this:

I don't mean to be disrespectful at all to the response that you have already received, however a Turkey should be smoked at a slightly higher temperature then one would normally BBQ at. 250-300 is ideal because you can smoke and roast the bird at the same time and get a great crisp skin. I aim for about 325 in my smoker for the last 20 degrees of cooking for this reason. As an added bonus, the extra heat can then be used to bake a desert in the smoker such as an apple or pumpkin pie.

Also, the breast should be 165 at the thickest part and the thigh should be 175. Keep in mind that the turkey will continue to cook after it is taken out of the smoker and will continue to rise an additional 5-10 degrees when you let it rest for 20 minutes under a foil tent before carving. So pull the turkey when the breast reaches about 160. I know Jeff says 175 degrees, but I have Googled this and visited a lot of other blogs and sites and he is the only one i can find that suggests 175 for the breast.

Salmonella is killed off at 160 degrees. The only thing I can think of is Jeff is considering the bird is brined and can go another 10 degrees without too much moisture loss. I would not smoke an injected bird to 175 degrees as it will be dry.

Again, I do not mean ANY disrespect to other opinions or methods presented here, but if you were to cook the breast to 175 then pull the turkey, it will continue to cook and reach up to 185 degrees which means a dry chewy turkey.
post #3 of 26
I don't know how cooking then reheating would work. They do sell precooked turkeys that people reheat but you might want to consider getting up early on Monday and doing it then.
Silverwolf gave you some good advice on the temp and time, great thing about most birds is that they don't generally take more than 3-4 hours if cooked at a higher temp.
Good luck and go by temp not time icon_wink.gif
post #4 of 26
You can reheat in the oven at bout 325° an wrap well then inta a cooler. If ya got a fair drive er to help keep it warm, I wrap several DRY bricks in foil an heat them in the oven as well. Place a piece a cardboard ont he bottom a the cooler with a couple a towels over that, lay in the bricks an set yer bird on there. Will keep quite well.

Besure to reheat to over 140° an keep it over that temp till servin time.

You can also put a pan a water in the oven under the bird, never hurts.
post #5 of 26
I just saw this and THANKS Silverwold for the quote. I would not worry about reheating the turkey. Think about this, how many times in your life have you sat down and had hot turkey? Really hot turkey? I can't remember a single time. By the time the bird was sliced and served, it really has no heat. The gravy however does.

Send her to work with a refrigerated bird and a thermos of hot turkey gravy. Your smoked turkey will get the raves regardless. I would not reheat and pack in a cooler. Chances are they won't get to it til lunch and the bird will be in the danger zone too long. Pack it in ice and tell her to take it out 1-2 hours before lunch.

Again, this is just my opinion and I don't mean any disrespect to differing ones.
post #6 of 26
Do you mean pull the bird out and allow it to sit at room temp for 1-2 hours?
My concern would be that that in itself would bring the bird into and stay in the danger zone for a good majority of the time.
Never tried it that way but personally I wouldn't let it sit out for that long and feel safe eating it.
post #7 of 26
That's exactly what I meant, so the chill has time to leave the bird and it can be served. It's not going to be suddenly crawling with salmonella. The general rule is to not have food in the danger zone for more then 2 hours. letting it lose some of the chill from the cooler is perfectly fine.

If you had a way of keeping the cooler at 140-150 degrees for the time needed, I'd go that route but if you don't maintain that temp, the bird is going to hit the zone much faster then when cooled at taken out to sit. In fact the moist warmth will promote quicker growth.
post #8 of 26
I'd reheat it and foil it then put it in the cooler with 2 foiled butts and a foiled brisket. It would still be too hot to handle at lunch time. They'd also appreciate the non-traditional heat retention devices you sent.
post #9 of 26
Thought you were gonna say to put it in the cooler with all of that and then send it to you...tongue.gif

Man that would be a feast!
post #10 of 26
Man thats a heck of alot of food for one class or are you smoking for the school. I like tips way with the hot bricks in the cooler. But now that you are putting a butt and a brisket you will be herd stretched to get some bricks or towels but I would make sure that the cooler is as full as you can get it. and then you should be fine. You might want to take a thermometer with you and test the meat and make sure that it stays hot enough. GOOD LUCK and remember the Q
post #11 of 26
No dissrespect here either, but my health inspector would have a hay day if he found a turkey settin out that long.

If yer servin warm food fer public consumption, it better be hot. Steam tables round here run 160°.

But hay, I ain't eatin it. If ya gotta have it sit long, maybe the school would warm em up fer ya.

An remeber the danger zone clock starts at the beginin a cookin, so if it's in the danger zone 2 hours while smokin, then properly maintained, but then sits out 2 more hours in the danger zone ya hit the limit. Anythin more then that yer pressin yer luck.

So, the point is yer either gonna have ta keep it cold er keep it hot. If ya can warm it there I,d do that. Dont wanna scare ya off er nothin, just don't wan't nobody ta get sick. I had a major case a food poisinin once, never care ta have that again. Woulda had ta get better before I could die.
post #12 of 26
Maybe just pre carve the bird and send it to school on ice? It would be easier to serve and slices aren't going to hold the chill as long once removed. She could pull from cooler 15-20 minutes before serving?

I personally don't think my first suggestion is bad, but to be on the super dooper safe side of serving others, maybe this? ^^^
post #13 of 26
I spatchcocked a 15 lb. turkey last week. Brined and cooked on the UDS at 300 F. Breast took 3 1/2 hrs to hit 160 F. Thighs were bloody at the leg joint. Pulled them and placed on the UDS for 20 minutes. Done fine. All was great.
Did a 20 lb three days later. Spatchcocked and brined. UDS 300 F. UDS burned cold, max temp 1/2 way thru was 275. Took 4hrs for breast to hit 165F (bigger breast) I was scared. Thighs bloody again. UDS for 20 minutes, all good.
Bottom line. Check your thigh/ leg joint prior to pulling off smoker. Pull breast at 160F.
post #14 of 26
Let's really think about this "danger" zone for a minute. I fully understand what the FDA has come up with to protect us from food born viruses. But if we follow all their rules we would NOT wash meat before cooking we would NOT eat runny eggs even the yolk. There are a lot of these things that are in place to protect the public. I think we tend to over do it a bit. I know people will say I would rather over do it then not. But take a minute and look at the thanksgiving turkey for instance. After cooking we let the bird cool a little because it's to dang hot to handle and we let the juices redistribute. let's say 15 minutes. Now we take our time carving up this pretty golden feast we are about to dine on. I would say at least another 15 minutes. Alright now to the table were we wait 5 minutes or so for grandma to get situated. Next come the prayer. Now we eat and talk and eat some more and talk. Let's give that one 45 minutes..I don't know about your family but mine does not rush up to get this turkey out of the danger zone and get it in to the fridge. We lolly gag and dip our you know what's around for quit some time before maybe getting up and getting some homemade pie. Then the men (usually) go watch a game or do anything that will get us away from the kitchen, while the lady's start picking things up off the table and might get the turkey in to the fridge then. Remembered as stated above the danger zone time is also added to part of the cooking time. So what I'm getting at is our turkey's are in the danger zone for quit some time. So if we are going to follow uncle Sam's rules we should probably toss the thing about when it hits the table. Don't forget about the rest of the turkey that you didn't carve up either that you have to go back and do, after you eat..lol...don't forget all these times are if you are standing right there and jump on the job and nothing goes wrong and there are NO snags..I like safe food don't get me wrong. But some times we go a little to far. These rules were put together to protect us from establishments in the first place....sorry about the rant....smoke on !!!PDT_Armataz_01_05.gif
post #15 of 26
I do agree with you on most points.
I don't think that there is a member among us that can say they haven't eaten a rib that sat out for an hour or a slice of pizza from earlier, some ABTs when you know you shouldn't eat one more but do anyway, even letting your can of whatever sit out for more than a few minutes, we live in the danger zone for the most part and it isn't something I am all that worried about, our bodies can fight off most of the bad things that get into us but at the same time you want to be somewhat cautious but the bacteria that thrives on cooked meats is different than on raw so i guess we just all have to do what feels right and keep cooking somewhere in the realm of common sense. Hell, the cavemen cooked meat over burning wood but they didn't use a probe and let their half cooked dinosaur sit out in the danger zone for like 3 hours, and now look at them...
post #16 of 26
I think an important part of the forum and an important part of giving advice on a forum such as this, especially to new smokers, to advise methods that have a good safe starting point concerning food safety. USDA guidelines for food handling and safety are a universal starting point to begin understanding food preparation and handling. If at some point you decide your going to prepare your food in a manner outside those guidelines because you like it better, I think you should. If I want to grab a slice of tenderloin and chomp it in my mouth that's been sittin on the counter just a tad longer than USDA recommends, I will. But we have a lot of new folks that want to learn how to smoke meats, not only to taste good, but to do so safely. I know I learned a lot when I first started visiting this forum and I relied heavily on the veterans to guide me safely into my next smoke. I don't think anyone here is ever trying to cut down another persons method, but I do think it is our responsibility to always give the safest possible answer to those questions concerning food safety. There is opinion, preference.... and then there are the facts. There is a lot of grey area concerning our opinions on food safety especially when you start comparing common practice to USDA recommendations. I think we have to be careful not to let those grey areas come across as fact.
post #17 of 26
I feel the same way, but for some reason I kinda feel targeted cause I suggested to leave it out for an hour....

I doubt any of us rush a holiday turkey to the fridge, but on the boards it seems to be all blast another for suggesting it....

So, just to be suppppperrrrr dooopppeerrrr safe and to avoid all of the obvious lawsuits from sick people, serve the turkey at 33 degrees. :) You can't go wrong that way.
post #18 of 26
Yall do what ya wan't, the last thing I'm sayin on this is: This involves people outside the home an children.
post #19 of 26
To answer your question I would want to know how long from warming it up to it gettin ate. From the info you posted I would smoke it up the night before and send it to school sliced and cold on ice in an aluminum pan and let them heat it up there or eat it cold. I know a butt will stay hot for hours wrapped and put in a cooler but I'm not sure how long a turkey will stay hot doin the same thing. How long from leavin your house to eatin time?
post #20 of 26


If this is going to a class, then does the school not have a cafeteria with an oven or two for reheating? If they do take it in cold and let them reheat it for the class.
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