Another first turkey thread

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by ferroplasm, Jan 1, 2015.

  1. ferroplasm

    ferroplasm Newbie

    This will be both my first smoke and first turkey. I got a 30" MES yesterday, cleaned and seasoned it as per the instructions posted on this forum. I'd like to get something at least edible, so I was hoping ya'll could answers some questions for me.

    Smoke temperature - This is a 13 pound bird, so not a huge turkey. I figure I'll smoke at the max temp setting of 275 degrees and spatchcock it to minimize the time the bird is in the danger zone of 40-140 degrees. Yes?

    Preheating - I believe I preheat the smoker to my desired temp and then put the bird in, right?

    Rack position - Which rack should the bird go on? I going to use the AMNPS I just bought for smoke, so the bottom rack is not an option. Middle rack ok?

    AMNPS - I'm going to use this for smoke. I bought it at the same time as the MES because it is so highly regarded by you guys. I have hickory dust and mesquite and pit masters choice pellets. Any suggestions for which I should use? I don't have a torch to light it, so that might be a problem. Could I preheat the whole thing before lighting to make it easier? Can I use purell mixed into the first inch of pellets or sawdust to light it?

    Water pan - Not sure if I should use this. Any suggestions?

    Now, I may have screwed up already. This turkey was injected with an 8% solution. I decided to go ahead and brine it anyways for more flavor. I did use much less salt than the recipe called for. Did I screw up? I do plan to let the whole thing dry for a day in the refrigerator before smoking.

    Lots of questions, I know. Thanks for the help. I'll be sure to take pics of the smoke.
  2. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    You temp sounds good. I always use max temp in the MES for turkey. You may have trouble getting the turkey in the  30 if you spatchcock. I have the 40 and don't spatchcock. You won't have any problem getting past 140 in 4 hours if you smoke at 275. Yes on preheating. I use the middle rack. I would use the pitmasters pellets for turkey. Dry them spread out on a paper plate in the microwave for 1.5-2 minutes first. Do your research on here on proper lighting. You are fine on the brine. I never add water to the pan in my MES. just foil for easy cleanup. Have fun and good luck on your smoke.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
  3. ferroplasm

    ferroplasm Newbie

    10:37 - the eagle has landed. ER, I mean the turkey is in the smoker. I figure I'll post as a smoke so you guys can advise as you see fit. I had some trouble getting the pellets started in the AMNPS until I turned the instructions over and realized I was reading the side for the dust. The pellets are now burning for 10 minutes before I put them back in the smoker. Smoker temp is 275.

  4. ferroplasm

    ferroplasm Newbie

    10:50 - The smoker is now well lit and back in the smoker. Much more smoke now.
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks like you're off and rolling! Should be tasty!
  6. ferroplasm

    ferroplasm Newbie

    1:05 - I opened the smoker to insert a meat thermometer and check the AMNPS.

    Unfortunately, the pellets had extinguished. Only an inch or so had burnt. What I thought was smoke coming out the top turned out to be steam from the turkey.

    Really disappointed that the turkey has been cooking this long without smoke. I dried out the pellets in the microwave before starting and had the door where you insert the chips opened slightly to allow greater airflow. I thought this would keep them burning

    I relit the pellets with the propane torch and added a small handful of applewood chips into the chip hopper to hopefully make up for lost smoking time. Any idea what I did wrong?
  7. sigmo

    sigmo Smoking Fanatic

    This is going to be too late to do you any good on the smoke you were doing yesterday, but:

    In my experience, the main problem with keeping the AMNPS going is lack of airflow.

    The glowing pellets need to have good airflow at all times so they'll have plenty of oxygen to keep the cherry lit.

    Here's what I do in my MES 40:

    First, I get the MES preheating.

    Next, I microwave the pellets several times in a row.  I nuke them for 30 seconds.  Then I stir them and let them "steam off" for a few minutes.  Then I nuke again for 30 seconds, stir and let steam off, etc., etc.  I do this four or five times.

    Then I load up the AMNPS.  I put the pellets in pretty deep.  I want them to be piled deep enough that the burning face will "draw" well.  That helps keep it lit.  BUT, you do not want to let any pellets reach across over the tops of the separators and touch the adjacent row.  I want there to be decent separation between any pellets in adjacent rows so the flame cannot jump across and cause a "short circuit" in the burn.

    I then put the AMNPS in the smoker and let the smoker continue to preheat.  I think this is an important step because the pellets get dried out even more by being the the smoker while it's preheating.  I actually leave them in the smoker for a half an hour after the smoker says it's up to temperature.  This really bakes the moisture out of the pellets well.

    Now, I take the pellet loader completely out of the smoker.  This opens up the air inlet as far as it can go.

    I open the top vent as far as it will go.

    (I actually do this next step before I even fire up the smoker, but I'm just mentioning it now because it goes along with the whole airflow part of the description). I open the chip tray slightly.  I keep it about an inch open.  In the version of MES40 that I have, this opens the air path even more.

    Don't confuse the chip loader with the chip tray.  I leave the loader completely out.  I open the tray thingamajig, too, as if I was taking it out to dump the ash.  Hopefully this description also applies to the model of MES you have.

    I have some foil on the bottom tray, over at the left side, above where I put the AMNPS so that it keeps any drippings from being able to dribble onto the AMNPS.  This is another key.  You cannot let any drips fall into the AMNPS.  If they're watery, they will put the fire out.  If they're fatty, they'll cause a horrible smelling/tasting smoke.  So you must have something over the AMNPS to make absolutely sure that nothing drips down into your pellets.

    The AMNPS must be up off of the bottom of the smoker.  I place it on the pair of rails that are to the left of the heater and chip tray area in my MES.  This is perfect because it holds it up several inches above the bottom of the smoker. This allows great airflow up from the bottom.  If the AMNPS just sits on the bottom of the smoker, that restricts the airflow.

    If your smoker doesn't have those rails, I'd find some other small rack to prop the AMNPS up on to make sure lots of air can get in under it


    I NEVER use the water tray.  Any moisture will inhibit the burning of the pellets.

    Dry and lots of airflow.  These are the main keys to keep the pellets burning well.  Since I started doing things this way, I've never had the pellets go out.  If they're still burning at the end of a smoke, I have to wrap the AMNPS in foil to extinguish it.

    I hope this does you some good on your next smoke!

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