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First Smoked Turkey

Lap

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Hey smoking peeps! I'd like to smoke my first turkey for thanksgiving at my Dad's this year. Beyond trying to figure out which method to use (wet brine/dry brine/spatchcock/etc), I'm wondering if I should smoke it the day before and reheat at my dad's or just smoke it the day of and transport the bird wrapped up in a cooler like we do with pork shoulders. Dad is an hour drive from my place.
If you guys reheat a smoked bird, what's the best way to reheat the bird without drying it out?

Hoping I don't regret offering to smoke the thanksgiving bird. Hadn't really thought it out beforehand :)

Thanks for any advice you may have for this newb.

Andy
 

smokin peachey

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I would suggest getting one now and doing a test run. A lot of the answers to your questions are personal preference so you could get numerous answers or opinions. The most important thing is make sure it is cooked to required temp. Good luck and happy thanksgiving.
 

HalfSmoked

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I have never reheated a bird. I think I would wrap and put in cooler day of. That will be an over night cook for you..

Warren
 

JCAP

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You could reheat low and slow in the oven with some broth and butter. Or if you have access to sous vide that would work fine too.

This is a great excuse to practice!
 

tallbm

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Hey smoking peeps! I'd like to smoke my first turkey for thanksgiving at my Dad's this year. Beyond trying to figure out which method to use (wet brine/dry brine/spatchcock/etc), I'm wondering if I should smoke it the day before and reheat at my dad's or just smoke it the day of and transport the bird wrapped up in a cooler like we do with pork shoulders. Dad is an hour drive from my place.
If you guys reheat a smoked bird, what's the best way to reheat the bird without drying it out?

Hoping I don't regret offering to smoke the thanksgiving bird. Hadn't really thought it out beforehand :)

Thanks for any advice you may have for this newb.

Andy
Turkey's may be the most notorious meat out there for going dry on you.
I would definitely wet brine it for a number of days to ensure it won't be dry when you smoke it.

I would also do it the DAY OF and avoid reheating.
I've smoked turkeys and then double wrapped in foil and then wrapped in 3 bath towels and driven an hour and 45 minutes and it was still piping hot and juicy.

One thing to know though is that turkey/poultry skin gets rubbery unless cooked at a high enough temp so look to smoke around 325F to have edible skin.
Now the skin may even come out crispy initially but once you wrap and travel with it for an hour it will absorb moisture and lose it's crispy texture BUT should still be edible. There is simply nothing that can be done about losing the crispy texture but edible skin is the key where rubbery going to rain on your parade.

I hope this info helps! :)
 

bradger

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if you do day of then wrap and cooler it, cook until a little under temp. remember it will continue to cook in the cooler on the drive. if rest of dinner in not ready you may need to put in a 170 oven if you can.
 

HalfSmoked

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Thanks for the like fivetricks it is appreciated.

Warren
 

sandyut

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What tallbm said - 100%!

as for the cook - here are my preferences and thus recommendations :emoji_wink:;
  • I really like the Slaughterhouse brine I use it all my poultry with great results.
  • I also spatchcock chickens and turkeys for an even cook and smoke.
  • Butter and rub of your choice under the skin is a nice touch too.
A test cook bird might increase your confidence. I get anxious cooking things I have never done before and when i radically change the process used. but best case you have more bird for you to enjoy and refine your cook for the fam.
 

Saline_Smoker

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I might potentially be stating the obvious here, but make sure you’re buying a turkey that hasn’t been pre-brined, aka a ’self-basting’ turkey (check the ingredients list to be sure, you want one that says ‘turkey’ and nothing more). Re-brining a pre-pumped turkey will likely leave you with a smoked salt lick. Best of luck on your bird!
 

SmokinVOLfan

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I agree with the others above. Smoke it the day of, wrap in foil, and transport. I second on the slaughterhouse brine is it wonderful on poultry. My preferred method is to spatchcock it.

Better yet load the smoker up, grab a cooler full of beer, head out early and make a day of it!
 

jcam222

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I always inject my turkeys. You can use the commercial Tony’’s creole butter or make you own. Folks gobble (pun intended) mine up.
 

texomakid

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All great suggestions. Last year I did a spatchcock & I used a basic wet brine. I also did a test run as smokin peachey smokin peachey suggested. I'm a big advocate for test runs on things I'm not well practiced on. That bird turned out really good.

Of course this year I want to change it up a bit. I now have the Rotisserie set up for my Yoder YS640 so I'm actually planning to do a test run with a turkey in the next few days.

Based on my experience I'd try to avoid the reheat as many have suggested.
 

sandyut

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I am not sure the physics behind brining will agree with the "risk of over brining" exactly. there is a thread about this very question. see Chef JimmyJ's comments on top of page two. he says it well.

finding unprocessed or not prebrined (what ever you want to call is) in my area is about impossible and I have found not necessary at all. I have brined and smoked all kinds of birds without a salt issue.
 

mike243

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I plan on smoking mine for 2 hours then into a baking bag and into the preheated oven to finish, works very well for me, put into a cooler for the trip and it will stay hot for several hours leave in bag and some towels around it.
 

Saline_Smoker

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I am not sure the physics behind brining will agree with the "risk of over brining" exactly. there is a thread about this very question. see Chef JimmyJ's comments on top of page two. he says it well.

finding unprocessed or not prebrined (what ever you want to call is) in my area is about impossible and I have found not necessary at all. I have brined and smoked all kinds of birds without a salt issue.
That’s a handy thread, thanks for posting. It points out that if you are indeed doing an equilibrium brine where you’re weighing your bird and water then multiplying by desired salt percentage to find your salt amount, you’ll be just fine. That said, I still think a caveat about pre-pumped birds for people using a pre-packaged brine mix, or working off of say Marianski’s Smoked Turkey recipe is a good word of warning to note. Thanks again for posting.
 
Last edited:

HalfSmoked

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Thanks for the like SmokinVOLfan it is appreciated.

Warren
 

Lap

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Turkey's may be the most notorious meat out there for going dry on you.
I would definitely wet brine it for a number of days to ensure it won't be dry when you smoke it.

I would also do it the DAY OF and avoid reheating.
I've smoked turkeys and then double wrapped in foil and then wrapped in 3 bath towels and driven an hour and 45 minutes and it was still piping hot and juicy.

One thing to know though is that turkey/poultry skin gets rubbery unless cooked at a high enough temp so look to smoke around 325F to have edible skin.
Now the skin may even come out crispy initially but once you wrap and travel with it for an hour it will absorb moisture and lose it's crispy texture BUT should still be edible. There is simply nothing that can be done about losing the crispy texture but edible skin is the key where rubbery going to rain on your parade.

I hope this info helps! :)
Thanks man, I’ll follow your wrapping advice for the hour drive to dads.
Any tricks for taking the bird off the smoker without it falling apart?
I smoked a practice spatchcock chicken the other day and it started falling apart when I took it off the grill and moved it inside. It still tasted great, just don’t want to show up on thanksgiving with a bird that looks like it was dropped on the floor.
Thinking maybe putting it on some type of grate that’s easy to pick up.
 

Lap

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Joined Jul 2, 2019
I would suggest getting one now and doing a test run. A lot of the answers to your questions are personal preference so you could get numerous answers or opinions. The most important thing is make sure it is cooked to required temp. Good luck and happy thanksgiving.
Thanks smokin peachy. I smoked a practice chicken a few days ago that turned out ok.
 

tallbm

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Thanks man, I’ll follow your wrapping advice for the hour drive to dads.
Any tricks for taking the bird off the smoker without it falling apart?
I smoked a practice spatchcock chicken the other day and it started falling apart when I took it off the grill and moved it inside. It still tasted great, just don’t want to show up on thanksgiving with a bird that looks like it was dropped on the floor.
Thinking maybe putting it on some type of grate that’s easy to pick up.
Glad my info could help :)

I don't spatchcock my birds I use vertical (beer can like) turkey roasting racks, BUT I think one of these would really help you out with the spatchcocked bird:


You put it on the smoker rack and then the spatched bird on the mat. When you are done smoking the bird you just grab the corner of the mat and drag it onto/into your turkey pan or a tray lined with the foil you plan to wrap the bird in or whatever you are going to store and transfer the bird in.

This should help with moving the bird around and you can work the mat out from under the bird if you want to remove the mat :)

This inside a foil pan is what I use to do my turkeys which are usually 20+ pounds:
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I use this for vertical chicken smokes:
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If you look at the images on amazon you will see the rack has sections the fold up where you can sit the chickens vertically. Usually I smoke 2 chickens at a time so this rack was PERFECT:
 

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