• Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Do I have to brine my turkey?

tpc74

Fire Starter
Thread starter
70
20
Joined May 8, 2012
Ok I understand, so it’s the 40-140 thing then basically. It’s funny that on the usda website it mentions it but doesn’t give specifics about it, at least not easily found ones.

I thought about injecting but didn’t want to risk the bacteria issue, so back to brining. We have a very large pot we use for various things from time to time. I think the bird will fit and I think I can get it into the fridge for a night. Not sure about how much water I can get in there but should at least cover the bird.

I can’t imagine a thawed bird would take more than 4 hours to reach 140 since the recommendation at 325 cooks a 24 lb bird unstuffed in 5 hours.

And I guess I’d have to wait at least 2 hours before sticking the thermometer in the bird for bacteria sake as well.

Worse case, if I try the whole bird and it doesn’t seem to be getting close to 140 in 3 hours time, I could pull it and drop it into a preheated oven and finish it off there?
 

gmc2003

Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
13,192
8,454
Joined Sep 15, 2012
At 250* your looking at about 30 minutes per pound. That's what 12 hrs not counting the added time per pound every time you open the lid of your smoker. Also remember poultry takes on smoke quicker then beef. It's very easy to over smoke a turkey when it's sitting in the smoker for that long. Over smoked turkey tastes like crap(ask me how I know). As for safety - a bird that big will be sitting in the danger zone for well over the 4/140 rule. The green meanies will be gathering together and smiling just waiting for their time to shine at the after dinner party.

Chris
 

tpc74

Fire Starter
Thread starter
70
20
Joined May 8, 2012
Or maybe never in an MES . My opinion is parts of that bird will be under done .
I would part it out as suggested above . Smoke the breast by itself .
My smoker always seems to get the meat to 140 fast, and even with a full water pan, which I imagine would slow that process down some?

I think the biggest pork shoulder I’ve done has been 15-16 lbs but this bird is bigger. I need to check the label to see exactly how much bigger. We don’t use the neck and all the other stuff you get in some turkeys so that weight could be subtracted but it’s probably only a lb or 2 at the most.
 

tpc74

Fire Starter
Thread starter
70
20
Joined May 8, 2012
At 250* your looking at about 30 minutes per pound. That's what 12 hrs not counting the added time per pound every time you open the lid of your smoker. Also remember poultry takes on smoke quicker then beef. It's very easy to over smoke a turkey when it's sitting in the smoker for that long. Over smoked turkey tastes like crap(ask me how I know). As for safety - a bird that big will be sitting in the danger zone for well over the 4/140 rule. The green meanies will be gathering together and smiling just waiting for their time to shine at the after dinner party.

Chris
Ok so then smoking shorter and finishing in the oven would work?
 

gmc2003

Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
13,192
8,454
Joined Sep 15, 2012
If you brine. Be careful of the pot you use. You want to make sure it's non-reactive or you may end up with a metallic flavor in your bird. Plastic and glass work well. I think stainless steel is safe also. chopsaw chopsaw TNJAKE TNJAKE and civilsmoker civilsmoker brine way more then I do. So one of them will hopefully pop in and give you a more definitive answer.

Chris
 

TNJAKE

Legendary Pitmaster
SMF Premier Member
8,856
11,915
Joined Nov 26, 2019
If you brine. Be careful of the pot you use. You want to make sure it's non-reactive or you may end up with a metallic flavor in your bird. Plastic and glass work well. I think stainless steel is safe also. chopsaw chopsaw TNJAKE TNJAKE and civilsmoker civilsmoker brine way more then I do. So one of them will hopefully pop in and give you a more definitive answer.

Chris
Plastic, glass, ceramic or stainless are all ok to brine in
 

DougE

Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
2,216
2,307
Joined Apr 13, 2010
I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that it isn't safe to smoke a whole turkey of that size at lower temps. I believe the maximum size for safety was about 12 to 15 pounds.
I remember the same thing which is why I said definitely spatchcock a bird as big as he plans to smoke.
 

chopsaw

Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
13,380
10,746
Joined Dec 14, 2013
If using plastic try to find a food grade bucket . It will be stamped on the bottom .
I use HPDE 2 . It will have a triangle with the grade stamp in the middle .

Good advice , but some may apply and some may not .
Spatching a 27 pound bird on a kettle , barrel smoker or pellet grill certainly works . In an MES you could effect the air flow and temp control readings depending on where you put the bird .
 

noboundaries

Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
9,387
3,996
Joined Sep 7, 2013
I've hot smoked a lot of whole 20+ lb birds with charcoal/wood, but an MES with a 275°F max temp is not something I would do with a 27 lb whole bird. Spatchcocked? Maybe. Parted? Absolutely. Breasts on one shelf; dark on a separate shelf. They will finish at different times.

But, hey, that's just me.

Here's a memory. A young inlaw hosted TG once. It was her first turkey. Oven roasted. The instant she took it out of the oven to cut and serve, I told her it needed longer and suggested a higher temp and 2 hours more time. But dinner was late and folks were clamoring for food. "It'll be fine," she said. I told my wife and daughters not to eat the turkey. We didn't, and 30 others got sick.

Later we learned the young inlaw put the bird in the oven mostly frozen because she didn't give it enough time to thaw. I've occasionally done the same thing myself, but I knew it would almost double the roasting time at a 325°F+ temp.

When it comes to poultry of any kind, hotter is safer and better.
 
Last edited:

tpc74

Fire Starter
Thread starter
70
20
Joined May 8, 2012
Ok. We have a restaurant supply place right down the street so I picked up a food storage bucket and lid. Was about $15. Bird fit perfectly. It is brining as we speak.

I’ll let you know how it turns out. Any thoughts on where the rack should go? I guess about one higher than the water pan rack? We aren’t going to use the drippings for anything so should I bother with a foil drip pan? Or maybe just foil the water pan and let it catch whatever?

I’m going to attempt the whole bird, but the oven will be ready to make the switch. Not that the suggestions here aren’t valid, just want to see how it works out. Worse case we eat pizza lol. I will wait a minimum of two hours before I probe the bird. If it ain’t even close we move to the oven.

Thank you all for the help and guidance!!
 

gmc2003

Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
13,192
8,454
Joined Sep 15, 2012
Just curious. Have you tried putt the whole bird in you MES yet while it's still wrapped? Just to make sure it fits without touching any of the side walls or door.

Chris
 

tpc74

Fire Starter
Thread starter
70
20
Joined May 8, 2012
Just curious. Have you tried putt the whole bird in you MES yet while it's still wrapped? Just to make sure it fits without touching any of the side walls or door.

Chris
I just got some new grates so I checked on that since I have to wash them anyway
 

schlotz

Master of the Pit
★ Lifetime Premier ★
1,857
1,272
Joined Jan 13, 2015
I would really hate to start smoking a whole 27# bird and discover after 4 hours it had not crossed the threshold of 140º. Do yourself a favor and cut it in half as mentioned.
 

ej0rge

Fire Starter
59
38
Joined Oct 22, 2011
for the safety angle, the sous vide guys are fond of reminding people that instantaneous temperature and joules of energy are different things.

The 165 spec for chicken is 165 for 5 seconds to kill off the bacteria. lower temperatures at longer times also work.

The table the SV guys use for chicken is:

  • 136°F (57.7°C) for 70 minutes
  • 140°F (60.0°C) for 30 minutes
  • 145°F (62.8°C) for 12 minutes
  • 150°F (65.6°C) for 4 minutes
  • 165°F (74°C) for 5 seconds

This strongly implies that you could reverse-sear chicken if you wanted to for some reason.

Maybe spatchcock it.

The label will say something about solution or enhancement if it has already been brined.

You can just bleach the inside of a cooler chest and brine directly in that, with some jugs of water to take up empty space, and jugs of ice to keep the temperature down. Granted, there's less worry about this in november than july.
 
Last edited:

HalfSmoked

Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
11,652
3,774
Joined Jun 11, 2015
A lot of pro and yea comments here and some stepped back and changed their comments. Brining the turkey with cure #1 is for the safety factor of allowing not reaching 4 to 140.
Cutting the bird into pieces reduces the size of what you are working with. Meaning that bird is now if its weight was 30lbs it is now 15lbs.Hope I haven't confused anyone but go to Pops postings on this and his brine recipe.

Warren
 

Latest posts

Hot Threads

Top Bottom
  AdBlock Detected

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.