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Christmas Turkey - recommendations

willsuffolkuk

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Hi All

Just finished work for the year, so my mind has turned to how I'm going to smoke the turkey this year, I've used my weber kettle to BBQ the turkey the last couple of years. Cooked it fairly hot with coals each side in the dividers, and no wood. 

I brined the turkey in salt water before hand. Has anyone experimented with this before? Does it make much of a difference. 

It's only a small turkey, 5kg

I have some apple wood, so plan to use a bit of that. 

What kind of temperatures do you guys cook at? and for how long? 

I've not stuffed the turkey previously, or added any fat, usually a pan of water beneath to keep some moisture. 

Looking for some tips suggestions on how I can do it a little differently this year.  All ideas, recommendations welcome, and Merry Christmas to all!

Wade, I believe you've done a lot of these before?
 

wade

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Hi Will

The Christmas turkey has been cooked in the Weber 57cm at home here for the past 15 years or so and it was only last year that I started to use my pellet smoker instead. The way you describe is almost exactly how I do it. I use Heat Bead briquettes in the baskets (or behind the dividers) at each side, but I do place either some oak blocks on top of them or some Hickory pellets at intervals during the cook. I aim for about 160-180 C (325-350 F) in the cooking chamber as I find that this keeps it moist. Cooking it much lower than that will take longer and can cause it to become a little dry. The easiest way to maintain this it to 3/4 close the top vent and just crack open the bottom vents.

Until recently I have not brined my turkeys, however this year a couple of customers asked me to supply them with "traditional American smoked turkey" for their Thanksgiving celebrations. Having quickly discovered that there isn't a single traditional recipe I turned to JJ to see how he would do it at home. I followed his family recipe and it worked very well. It did include brining the turkey beforehand, Did the brining make it any more moist? I don't know. It did not seem markedly different and without doing a direct side by side comparison it is hard to tell. It was delicious though, and the flavours that the brine imparted on the turkey made for a very tasty bird. My American customers loved it and said that it reminded them of home. I will be using the same recipe for my Christmas turkey this year.

A 5 Kg turkey is a good size for the Weber. I have cooked larger but when they get too big it can affect the heat circulation in the cooking chamber. Cut away the loose flappy bits of skin and fat at the neck and the body cavity to allow for good heat circulation inside the bird. I don't stuff as this will affect the heat flow inside the bird and just add to the cooking time, but I do place a roughly chopped onion and some herbs inside the cavity. I guess a small layer of stuffing at the bottom of the cavity would not hurt though.

I do use a water pan between the coals as it does help to regulate the temperature. I also cook the turkey on top of a layer of roughly chopped vegetables in a roasting pan on the cooking grate so that I collect the juices for making the gravy. I also rub some butter on top of the turkey breast under the skin. 

I then cook the bird until it reaches 74 C and then wrap in several layers of foil to rest for 30 minutes or so before carving.

Wade
 

wade

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Just a quick thought regarding the turkey. Is it fresh or is it frozen. At Christmas I usually buy fresh but during the year I use frozen. If you use a Kelly Bronze slow growing bird there is little detectable difference to the end result with fresh or frozen. If you are going to brine it then just make sure that the bird is not classed as "ready basted" as this will already have been pumped full of brine.
 

willsuffolkuk

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Thanks for all the info Wade. I'll be giving this a try for the family on Christmas day, so will post the results. 

I will have to do a side by side comparison in the new year, but for now will stick with brining! My previous technique has involved lots of rinsing, as it used more salt, but this option doesn't look like that's required, so a lot less work.
 

smokin monkey

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Not done a Turkey on the BBQ before, but I know Wade has been doing it for years, so I would go with his advice.

I have the 91 year old in laws coming for Christmas as usual and do not think they would appreciate smoked turkey.
 

mymatejim

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I guess this method would also work for chicken? Is it worth putting a rub on the skin too?
 

smokin monkey

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I guess this method would also work for chicken? Is it worth putting a rub on the skin too?
Hi Jim, you may already know this, but if you are answering or asking about a particular post in a Thread, you can click on the "Quote" icon at the bottom of the post. As above it highlights it, and it helps members, because several people could post on a thread, then your question is not in order, if that make sense?!
 

wade

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Yes Jim this works well for Chicken too. Yes brush a little oil or meted butter on the skin and apply some of the rub there too.
 

mymatejim

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Hi Jim, you may already know this, but if you are answering or asking about a particular post in a Thread, you can click on the "Quote" icon at the bottom of the post. As above it highlights it, and it helps members, because several people could post on a thread, then your question is not in order, if that make sense?!
Apologies! Point taken...
 

mymatejim

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Yes Jim this works well for Chicken too. Yes brush a little oil or meted butter on the skin and apply some of the rub there too.
Great stuff thank you, I think I've found my smoke task for next weekend
 

smokin monkey

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HI Jim, no need to apologize, we like to help members get the most out of the forum. We are not the forum Police, we are regular memebers like everyone else.

It also helps you thank or help a specific member as they get a notification that you have quoted them.
 
Last edited:

willsuffolkuk

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A quick update on my experience of 
 
Hi Will

The Christmas turkey has been cooked in the Weber 57cm at home here for the past 15 years or so and it was only last year that I started to use my pellet smoker instead. The way you describe is almost exactly how I do it. I use Heat Bead briquettes in the baskets (or behind the dividers) at each side, but I do place either some oak blocks on top of them or some Hickory pellets at intervals during the cook. I aim for about 160-180 C (325-350 F) in the cooking chamber as I find that this keeps it moist. Cooking it much lower than that will take longer and can cause it to become a little dry. The easiest way to maintain this it to 3/4 close the top vent and just crack open the bottom vents.

Until recently I have not brined my turkeys, however this year a couple of customers asked me to supply them with "traditional American smoked turkey" for their Thanksgiving celebrations. Having quickly discovered that there isn't a single traditional recipe I turned to JJ to see how he would do it at home. I followed his family recipe and it worked very well. It did include brining the turkey beforehand, Did the brining make it any more moist? I don't know. It did not seem markedly different and without doing a direct side by side comparison it is hard to tell. It was delicious though, and the flavours that the brine imparted on the turkey made for a very tasty bird. My American customers loved it and said that it reminded them of home. I will be using the same recipe for my Christmas turkey this year.

A 5 Kg turkey is a good size for the Weber. I have cooked larger but when they get too big it can affect the heat circulation in the cooking chamber. Cut away the loose flappy bits of skin and fat at the neck and the body cavity to allow for good heat circulation inside the bird. I don't stuff as this will affect the heat flow inside the bird and just add to the cooking time, but I do place a roughly chopped onion and some herbs inside the cavity. I guess a small layer of stuffing at the bottom of the cavity would not hurt though.

I do use a water pan between the coals as it does help to regulate the temperature. I also cook the turkey on top of a layer of roughly chopped vegetables in a roasting pan on the cooking grate so that I collect the juices for making the gravy. I also rub some butter on top of the turkey breast under the skin. 

I then cook the bird until it reaches 74 C and then wrap in several layers of foil to rest for 30 minutes or so before carving.

Wade
A quick update, albeit delayed from me. Only just sobered up after Christmas ;-) 

I took Wade's advice word for word above, and although the heat ran away with me a bit as I was using my dad's weber, rather than my own, it was an older model with slightly different vents. It was a great success. It's hard to compare on the day, as it's been 12 months since I'd had roast turkey, but on boxing day we did a side by side comparison with the inlaws turkey cooked in the oven. Worlds apart.

I'll definitely be trying a couple of chickens soon too. Thanks for the advice Wade. 
 

wade

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I am glad it worked out well 


Let us see if we can sort out the temperature control. When you say it is the older model, do you mean the one with the vane vents inside the bowl?
 

willsuffolkuk

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I am glad it worked out well 


Let us see if we can sort out the temperature control. When you say it is the older model, do you mean the one with the vane vents inside the bowl?
Hi Wade

It has similar vents to mine, but a tray for the ash, rather than the ash bucket. I wouldn't have thought this would have made much difference, but the temperature started off very low, so I opened top and bottom vents, temperature then went very hot (220c) at which point I shut the bottom vent again, to about halfway. I was using heat beads.

All readings coming from dual probe therm on the rack. 

Thanks

Will
 

wade

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I have both models and it usually makes little difference unless there is a wind. I find it easier to keep the top vent 3/4 closed as it is approaching temperature and do the fine control using only the bottom vent. That way I find it much more finely controllable. Do not use too many coals to start with though.

220 C would not have been a problem for short periods though.
 

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