Brining and tempature

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Original poster
Aug 28, 2015
I smoked a 6.5 lb turkey breast for thanksgiving.  I am new to all of this but wanted to try brining the Turkey Breast as it was suppose to be more moist.  IT WASN'T !.  I mixed up 1 1/2 Gallon of cold water and added 1 1/2 cup kosher salt stirring until the salt was dissolved.  I put the water in an 18 qt. ice chest,added the turkey and topped it with a brick to keep from floating.  I left it in the brine for 9 hours.  The next morning I set my electric 30" Masterbuilt  on 225 degrees. I rubbed Hellmans mayo over the breast, sprinkled 1 1/2 T Kosher salt and 1 1/2 T coarse black pepper over the bird.  I stuffed the cavity with onion quarters.  I fixed up a mop mixture of 4 T of  butter and 1/2 cup apple juice and sprayed it 2 times.  I cooked it to 165 degrees, took it out of the smoker.   While it was resting the temp went up another 10 degrees.  The breast wasn't as moist as it should have been.   WHAT DID I DO WRONG?   

QUESTION # 2:  If the temp goes up another 10 degrees, should I smoke to 155 degrees, regardless of what I am cooking or smoking.  I have a meat probe that I bought from Kohls put out by the food network, but seems to be about right with my digital thermometer.

I know this is long, but hope someone can answer my questions. 
Was the breast skinless? Did you test your therm in boiling water to confirm it's accurate? What was your pit temp? Did you go by the stock therm in the door? If so, there nortoursily inaccurate. Your pit temp very well could have been higher than you thought.
No, the breast was not skinless.  I did not check the therm for accuracy, but seems to have been alright the other things I have smoked-Pulled pork, beer can chicken, brisket. 
Norma, evening and :welcome1: ..... You are absolutely correct about adjusting temperature for carry over.... 155 sounds like it would have been perfect....

You can also try adding some sugar... sugar is also hygroscopic and holds onto moisture.... brown or white will work... brown for that molasses flavor in the bird...

You could also try brining the bird longer for a deeper penetration of the brine... we brine (salt and sugar) for 3 days... (24#er)....
That sounds right to me.  I'll try that next time.'

Thanks for your input on this.
I agree with Dave (as I usually do)... add the same amount of sugar as you do salt (rinse well after brine)... I also brine over night (12 hrs min.) up to 24 hrs... I would also do the boiling water test on your therms (adjust to your elevation) as I have done breast without brining and still is moist at 165` IT... Did you wrap the breast tight with foil or tent loosely for resting ?? Loosely is better as it lets the heat escape to keep from temps rising...
Not sure I used foil at all.  After I took it out of the smoker to rest, I left the therm in place and watched it go up another 8-10 degrees.  That is when I decided it would probably be best to  remove the breast from smoker at about 155-to 160 degrees.  I have the Jeff Phillips book on smoking meats and that is mostly what I go by.  As I said before, I am new to all this.  Thanks for your input.
Yeah, I would check your probe temp.  If you rested unfoiled, going up 10 degrees seems high.  Wondering about the accuracy of the probe.

Brining is supposed to infused additional flavor, not necessarily make it moister.  If it was dry, it was likely as a result of how you cooked it.  225 for poultry is low imo.  Get your temps up to 300-350.
I can't tell why the meat was dry as you did everything right. 5 to10°F Carryover is not unusual and can be Higher smoking at 300°+ because there is more heat to dissipate. At 1C salt per gallon water that you used, much more than 8 hours could have made for salty meat. The higher the salt content the less brine time is needed. I brine 1-3 days but only use 1/2C Morton Kosher per gallon and no sugar, don't care for sweet poultry unless  I am making BBQ'd Chicken that will be sauced. This year I Injected 2 20 pound turkeys and lost track of time and the breast IT went to 170°F plus carryover. The meat was still juicy and got rave reviews from the 20 dinner guests. Your turkey just may be one of those that can't be explained or as others pointed out, the Therm is off...JJ
I tested my prob in boiling water.  It registered 210 degrees.  Boiling is 212 degrees.  I am thinking my prob is only 2 degrees off.   Thanks for all the input I have received from this. 
Norma,  Water boils at 212° at sea level.  Subtract 2° for each 1000ft above sea level.  If you are at 1000ft above sea level, you are right on.

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I am just at 1200 feet elevation, SW of Oklahoma City.
Hi Norma, I did not see anywhere you stated how long you cooked your turkey breast. The longer it takes to cook the easier it is to dry out the meat. I do not slow cook meats unless they have collagen that needs to break down. Turkey, chicken and pork loin have no collagen. I cook them with a wood fire, but not slowly. I cook at 300# until the internal temp approaches 15# or whatever of final desired temp then I drop down and finish closer to 225# and lower. I do this because I'm trying to finish the inside without over cooking the outside. Remove allowing for carry over. This keeps meat from drying out my opinion.

Good Luck
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Low and Slow or Hot and Fast, make no difference in how moist the meat will be. Hot temps will however, dry the surface 1/4 to 1/2" more than Low and Slow over a long cook because a greater depth of surface meat will exceed 212°F and evaporate more surface meat moisture. Regardless of smoker temp, exceeding and IT of 165, in lean or low collagen meat, has the biggest impact on juiciness...JJ
That makes sense to me.  I don't remember how long I cooked the breast.  I was just watching to remove from smoker when the temp reached 165.  I may try cooking the meat faster next time.  The only other bird I have cooked is the beer can chicken.  It turned out very moist.  I've only been smoking meat since early summer, so I've a lot to learn.  Thanks. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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