1st timer -- looks AWFULLY dark

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Original poster
May 11, 2006
I just finished smoking two 4# skinless boneless turkey breasts. I put them in to my Big Green Egg with hickory chunks at 270 and sprayed it occasionally with apple juice. It finally reached an internal temp of 165 and I pulled it, but the outside looks nearly black. Is this normal?

Thanks for any advice!

Black is not 'normal' but a deep brown or mohagony (redish-brown) is. Here's a shot of one I did a while back:

Check the accuracy of your thermometer as a low reading may account for your results. If the meat thermometer is reading low it may have cooked too long. If the smoker's thermometer is reading low then you were cooking at higher than expected temperatures. Either way that could cause a dark exterior. Another possibility is the smoke wood wasn't completely seasoned and the black color is actually soot (happened to me the first time I tried to smoke ham).
I'll check the accuracy to be sure, but I think I know what I did. At one point, I'd added more chunks of wood. The temp had dropped very low, so I opened the intake and exhaust, then got called away for a minute. When I came back, the temp had shot up to 450. I got it back down pretty fast, but I bet the damage had been done.
Not to judge a book by it's cover (in this case- a turkey breast with dark coloring)-How did it taste?
Earl, well, I decided to scrub off what I could of the outside before I sliced it. Everyone thought it was very smoky but good on a sandwich with mustard and mayo.

I thought it was a little dry. I cooked it to 165, think I'd stop at 160 next time.

A ceramic cooker needs very little wood because of design. How did you set up the cook? Did you you use a plate setter?

Two things you can do to get a more moist product, one is to brine and the other is to pull the breast at 155 to 157 internal, the breast will hit the 160 mark during the rest.
I ran into the same prob with two beer can chickens, the coloring on the skin was a little dark and it was on the leathery side. Great smoke flavor though, but the meat was not as juicy and succulent as everyone says good beer can chix should be? Still tasty, and even better the next day!

I ran it for about 4 hours at 230 F. But I had a flare up that shot the chamber temp to over 325F. I got it down as well, but could that have done the damage? The high temp and smoke lasted about 3-5 min. I did get the meat temp to 170F.
Gortiz.... Did you brine first? I just did my first 2 chickens last weekend and brined them for about 5 1/2 hours prior to smoking and they were out of this world.......

Here is the one I use (with a little modification) I use apple cherry juice

2 quarts apple juice
1 lb brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
3 quarts water
3 oranges, quartered
4 ounces fresh ginger, thinly sliced
15 whole cloves
6 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, crushed

I let it soak for 5 1/2 hours.....

Basic Recipe:
1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar

From there you can always add more to the brine.

Zatarains Liquid Crab Boil
Black Pepper
Dried Rosemary
Wine (not Cooking Wine)
Garlic powder

Brine the chicken for 8 to 12 hours (any more and it will start to pickle). Then remove from the brine and rinse the bird well to remove the exterior salt.

Rub with a good poultry rub (optional) or drape with bacon slices or just put it in dry. Smoke at 225 until the thickest part of the brest is 165 - 170. Remove from smoker and let rest at leat 15 minutes.

Here is a rub I used today on a turkey brest (I make sandwich meat with it):

2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon beef-flavored bouillon granules
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Hey Val,

I use Steve Raichlen's secret whenever I cook a turkey or chicken (whole or just breast). I whip a stick of softened butter, mixed with a couple of cloves of minced garlic, a tblsp of chopped rosemary, a tblsp of chopped parsley until creamy. Then pry the skin loose from the body of the bird (carefully with your fingers), and spoon in some of the butter mixture inside, between the skin and meat. Massage the outside of the bird to making sure that the butter mixture spreads evenly. Continue doing this, but then leave some of that butter mixture for basting over the skin every hour while the bird cooks. He used a "brush" made of some rosemary sprigs tied together - it's so awesome! Talk about dee-lish! When it's done, the meat will come out very, very juicy and flavorful.
One very important detail I forgot to mention - Go ahead and make a little more of the butter mixture and use a fresh rosemary brush as you get closer to the meat being done - I'd say about an hour or two before it's done. You don't want to use the same butter and brush you used when you 1st basted the raw poultry. You may already know this, but I just wanted to make sure I mentioned it. Good luck!
I've never cooked boneless, skinless turkey breat but this variation on prp's butter theme works well on regular turkey breasts.

Melt a stick of butter (not margarine) until just liquid enough to handle in an injector. Inject evenly throughout the breast, going as deep as possible.

The theory here is the liquid butter will resolidify in the cold meat and not be released until the meat begins cooking.

Makes for a VERY moist breast.
Thanks for that tip Scott. I am going to invest in an injector. Seems like it would be quicker than spreading butter in between the skin and body of poultry. I never had much luck with skinless, boneless poultry - always comes out dry for me. Any suggestions? (anybody?)
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