2 Turkey questions.

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by mdboatbum, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It's almost that time of year again. A little over 3 months 'til the big turkey holocaust. Like, I suspect, many of you here on the forum, I'm planning to smoke our turkey this year. This will be my first time, also like, I suspect, many of you on here.

    My first question has to do with not the Thanksgiving variety, but those turkey breasts you find ready to be sliced in delis. The ones to which I'm referring appear not to be processed, IE ground and formed, but rather whole breasts that are ridiculously moist and have the consistency of ham. I'm curious as to how this happens. I suspect they're injected, brined and possibly cured, I just don't know the process. I'm not dying to make one, but it might be fun to try sometime to slice for sandwiches.

    My second question involves smoking the bird for the big day. It's not so much a question as a request for affirmation of my planned process. What I'm thinking of doing is brining the bird in the usual manner. Rinse, pat dry, season etc... Plan to stuff with celery, apples and onions. Then for the first 3 hours on the smoker I plan to run it at 225˚. At this point, my assumption is that the skin will be approaching 140˚, thus the absorption of smoke will be significantly reduced or even stopped from what I understand. I'll then oil or butter the skin, insert the probe and crank the smoker to 325˚ or 350˚.

    For a 12lb, bird, my thinking is that total cook time should be in the 5 to 6 hour range, but obviously I'll be cooking to temp. Just trying to  to have it be done and rested as close to the planned dinner time as possible. I've read through here and searched, but haven't come across any 2 stage methods for smoking turkey.

    I'm hoping the initial low temp phase will allow for as much smoke absorption as possible before the skin "seals", then the high heat phase will crisp the skin and finish cooking the bird.

    Am I overthinking this? Should I just run it the whole time at 350˚? I'm really looking for a good solid smoke flavor, but I'd like a crispy skin and a good looking bird, as it will be the centerpiece of the table.

    Any thoughts or tips are greatly appreciated. By the way, I'll be doing this on my ECB, and the plan is to dump the water out of the pan and add a whole chimney of lit lump in the coal pan when switching to the high heat phase. Or maybe I'll be able to talk the wife into letting me splurge on a WSM by that time. :)
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  2. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    I'm not much on doing any kind of birds, so I can't be much help.

    There are a bunch of guys who can help you.

    I will mention some things I have heard about Turkeys:

    Don't try to do too big a Turkey, because you have to get it through the Danger zone (40˚ to 135˚ in no longer than 4 hours).

    Don't try to do it low & slow----Same reason.

    Don't stuff it---------Same reason.

    Some may say different, but these seem to be important things I have heard.

    I now turn you over to people who actually like bird meat enough to learn a lot more than I know.

    LOL---I like Turkey & Chicken now & then, but not enough to do it myself---My Son does any birds we need made.

  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    The turkey will absorb smoke as long as smoke is present.

    If your smoker will run at 325, then that's where you want the turkey to cook at.

    Starting at 225 will not get it to absorb any more smoke than starting at 325.

    I would not stuff the turkey at all, if you want flavor on the inside, do a beer can turkey.

    use 1/2 can of beer & all your favorite spices in the can. It will flavor & keep the turkey moist.
  4. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thank you Gentlemen!! 325˚ til she's done then. The "stuffing to which I was referring is not to be eaten, just for moisture and aromatics. But if that's a bad idea maybe I'll skip that too.

    I'll definitely be doing at least one practice run fairly soon!!
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  5. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Good advice given above.^^^^^^^^^ On the brining I use 1 cup of kosher salt per gallon of ice cold water, and then add whatever you want to the mix. I personally like citrus and rosemary. 
  6. daggerdoggie

    daggerdoggie Smoke Blower

    I do the same. I brine for twelve hours, keeping ice on the top of the bucket or in a fridge.  I put in a couple of fresh oranges, squeezed, then throw the rest in and a few other spices.  I take it out, dry it off and rub the entire bird with olive oil and then add salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and a little cayenne pepper.  I smoke it as per weight, but I have done 16lb birds with no problems every Thanksgiving for the past ten years.  I set a temperature probe in the breast after a few hours. I also spray it every hour or so after the first couple of hours with apple juice and I do set a bowl of water in the smoker.

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