First Time Turkey

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by shrimp nasty, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. Hey folks,

    Y'all been a real big help in my learnin' how to smoke stuff so I figured I'd hit y'all up for my first turkey attempt. I'll preface and say that I do own Jeff's book, did a forum search etc, but there's so much out there it's a little daunting.

    I'm pretty comfortable with my smoker by now, done a solid amount of ribs, chicken breast, wings, burgers and so on.

    But now comes my biggest challenge to date, a Thanksgiving turkey for all of the guests. If it goes well, I'm the hero, if I fail it, my family will disown me....again.

    Seriously though, I'm looking for quick n dirty tips, tricks and tried n true methods for anyone who's done a whole turkey and succeeded.

    I'm working with an MES 40, have a propane grill and a gas stove/oven.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


    Shrimp Out

    PS Any other Thanksgiving treats y'all toss in the smoker?
  2. Keep it simple and brine the bird. Then dry the skin real well. Don't rub butter or oil on the skin. Get your MES up to 275° and put the bird in with a probe in the breast. At 155° remove from smoker and move to the oven that is at 350° and let it go to 165° in the breast and 170° in the thigh. Let rest before carving. Keep the door closed on the smoker or [​IMG]. Remember to post a Qview and take note of what you did so you know what to do next time or know what not to do.

    Happy smoken.

  3. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    We're watching , [​IMG]

    Have fun and . . .
  4. bryanw20

    bryanw20 Newbie

    Kinda hijacking. I'm also doing my first Turkey. Suggestions on brining flavors and or rubs? (Recipes for a "traditional" flavor)?
  5. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  6. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  7. azbertman

    azbertman Newbie

    Man I am glad someone started this thread. I'm new to SMF and smoking in general. Just got my first MES and figured since Thanksgiving was next week I would try a turkey (in addition to the one the wife is making the old fashion way). 

    I have a question on the size of the turkey. I have read not to go too big. Any suggestions on a good size turkey for a MES30? Also, how long do you brine it for?

    Thanks in advance. 
  8. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    A general rule of thumb is around 12 pounds tops...need bigger? best to smoke 2 smaller turkeys. 24 hours in a brine is sufficient IMO, although some have gone longer in the soak.....Willie
  9. azbertman

    azbertman Newbie

    Thank you everyone for the replies and advice.
  10. generalee

    generalee Fire Starter

    I'll agree with the 12ish #'s rule...I will let it slide up to 13#'s if I can't find 12's...

    I do brine for a minimum of 24 hours...I find it's better at 36 hours...but thats my preference.

    Make sure though, the turkey is fully thawed before going in the brine...if it's frozen when it goes in, it doesn't work as well. (learned that the hard way)

    I've not used the MES, so I can't advise on that, I do sticks...but I smoke in the 225-250F range and run for about 6+hours on the 12#'s.

    I make sure the breast is at 165 before I take it off.  I double foil them and let them rest at least 30 minutes.

    Have fun with the brine...just make sure you get a good salt to sugar ratio and enjoy the other spices & flavors...

    I've found the brine flavors to be quite subtle overall...

    Happy Smoking!
  11. azbertman

    azbertman Newbie

    I have a newbie question. I'm tryin the Smoke Maple BBQ Turkey recipe Jeff put out. I think I got it and am ready but this is my first time smoking. My question is do I need to put water or any other liquid in the smoker to keep things moist in there? Is that just an assumed step for smoking anything? I apologize if this is a dumb question.
  12. generalee

    generalee Fire Starter

    I believe the prevailing thought lines, are that the water pans are used on lower quality smokers (meaning thinner metal), and it provides a bit of a thermal mass to help control swings in temps. 

    I have used them all the time with my old smoker. 

    I have a new reverse flow, and the prevailing thought is to ditch it, as the temps run more even.

    I could have it wrong, and leave room for my above statements to be in error...


    Hope that helps, & Happy Smoking... pics once it gets started...
  13. I fill my water pan with sand then wrap with foil. As said above most of the cheaper smokers come with a water pan to help control heat. The problem with that is water will only go to 212° at sea level. It also evaporates so the amount is going down the whole time. Some wrap a brick with foil.

    Happy smoken.

  14. azbertman

    azbertman Newbie

    Thank you guys for the info.
  15. kerstingm

    kerstingm Smoke Blower

    I was just about to start a 1st time turkey smoke thread and came across this,. thanks for getting this started, I am using my Traeger pellet grill for my turkey. I have never brined anything before, does it make that big of a difference in flavor? Also I noticed someone mentioned NOT TO butter the outside of the bird? Why would this be a bad thing? Does it block the smoke from getting in past the skin? 

    I am leaning towards either apple or pecan for my pellets, I use apple for almost everything, I have read some really good things about pecan. any suggestions on which woods are better? I have almost every flavor out there. Hickory, Mesquite, Cherry, Alder, and Oak.

    Anyway I am leaning towards smoking around 2 or 3 hours then finishing it around 300 till the I/T hits 160 to 165 
  16. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Jeff, the owner of this site is doing turkey smoking tutorials on his newsletter this month. I suggest you sign up for it. Its free and there is something different every month. I brine and spatchcock every time. Brine is not so much for flavor as it is for moisture retention. I would do some research before you wing it.
  17. kerstingm

    kerstingm Smoke Blower

    What is spatchcock? This is a new one on me.
  18. azbertman

    azbertman Newbie

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014
  19. jeanetten

    jeanetten Newbie

    Just a quick question.

    We are smoking two turkeys in our Brinkmann water smoker as we have done for about twenty years.  The turkey's are brined but my concern is when to put in oven.

    I read somewhere if you heat the turkey before placing in the smoker it can cut the smoking time, reduce the time the turkey is at the critical temperature that can create bacteria, and not reduce the flavor.   In the past we have finished the turkeys in the oven but starting in the oven makes more sense.  I don't think the smoke flavoring penetrates a cold turkey.   Just wanted you thoughts on this approach.

    Jeanette N
  20. wolfman1955

    wolfman1955 Master of the Pit

    IMHO cold meat absorbs smoke better. Once meat hits about 140 deg. the smoke absorption decreases.
    Keep Smokin!!!
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014

Share This Page