First time with 2 turkey breasts, asking for suggestions.

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Original poster
Nov 28, 2013
For Thanksgiving I smoked a whole turkey (I think it was about 14 lbs) and it was a huge hit (so much so there was no left overs :( ). I used Tip's Slaughterhouse Poultry Brine and then just some random rub. It was very moist, but a little spicey. This time I got 2 bone-in turkey breasts (about 6.5 lbs each) and would like to try 2 different rubs, one a with a little heat and one that my mom would like (read: no heat). Any suggestions?

Also is there anything I should do differently with smoking the breasts than I did with the whole turkey? I smoked it at 225 and ensured there was water in the pan while it cooked then just monitored the internal temp till it got to 165 then let it rest for about 30-45 mins.

Is there such a thing as brining too long? Dinner is this Saturday around 1pm.

Also, I have a 30in Masterbuilt Electric smoker (I see the MES acronym thrown around a lot, is that short for Masterbuilt Electric Smoker?)
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can't answer 1st question. Yes to other two. Brining too long can "cook" meat, so to speak...make it mushy.

Here's info & chart found on another cooking site ( dunno if allowed to say name...)


"How Long to Brine? It all depends (don’t you love that answer)? The size of the item your brining, the relative strength of the brine and your individual preferences will all make a difference. I highly recommend you experiment, keep good notes and you’ll determine your own answer. Before you experiment, read the Questions and Answers chapter for some ideas and concerns about changing times and solutions.

These are “sample” times. Feel free to adjust –SLIGHTY- but remember:

If you’re worried about your first brine, go with a time in the middle of the range. If that was too salty, try lowering your time. After than, you can adjust your solution if you still think it’s too salty (see the Q&A section for more)."

Item Brine Time

Whole Chicken (4-5 Pounds) 8 to 12 hours

Chicken Parts 1 1/2 hours

Chicken Breasts 1 hour

Whole Turkey 24 - 48 hours

Turkey Breast 5 - 10 hours

Cornish game hens 2 hours

Shrimp 30 minutes

Pork chops 12 - 24 hours
Howdee Howdee..... I have an MES 30 and cooked a bird or two on it.

If you'll use the search feature, you'll find so many brine recipes you'll get tired of looking. In my own humble opinion brining is not needed unless you are trying to infuse flavors into the bird using a salt and/or sugar brine to carry them. Your turkey will be every bit as moist without a brine. So when looking for a brine, looks for the flavors you want to impart.

Apple juice is also a normal carrier medium with turkey brines. When I do a brine, is part brown sugar, part canning salt, water or a flavorful liquid, and some spices and/or herbs or even fresh fruits and veggies which have been steeped or boiled to release their flavor before adding to the brine. I usually use slightly less salt that sugar they balance each outer out pretty well.

IF I brine, not cure but brine, its usually for less than 24 hours, 12 to 18 maybe for a big thick breast. I find if its brined too long it affects the density or texture of the meat. I like all my flavor modifiers to simply enhance the meat, I want you chicken to taste like chicken, beef like beef, etc.... Using a rub, brine, marinade, injection, even the smoke should only enhance not change the taste. But That is my humble opinion and we all know what opinions are like, right?

I don't use water in my water pan, with an electric you don't dry the meats as you would with a fireburner. A fireburner has to be tended and by opening and closing and opening and closing the pit you are releasing all the moisture tending the pit. An electric requires no tending and by leaved the pit closed it doesn't lose moisture like a fireburner. Some will cover the water pan with tin foil and fill with sand to use as a heat sink to help with the true electric draw back, recovery of lost heat. If you are using chips this will increase the smoke times.

I have seen somewhere where someone said it took 10 or 15 mins recovering the heat lost of an electric when you open the door. With only 800 watts I will not disagree with close to 10 maybe. Consider 10 mins every time you open the door. If you only open the door once every hour, on a 6 hour smoke you have added an addition hour's cooking. Think about a 22 hours low and slow butt. If you will leave the door shut as intended it will cook faster, if you leave the door closed you'll not lose moisture, add a heat sink (sand filled water tray to help maintain temp so it doesn't need to cycle as often and you are on a roll.

You IT for pulling is great, you really only need a light cover of oil on the breast its like suntan lotion then you can use  whatever spices you want for your rub.

Remember there is no right way or wrong way, just the way you want to master cooking it. Its about making what you want to do, work with your pit. Everyone does something a little different.

Hope it helps, and look forward to seeing some photos of these breasts!

PS I would suggest you start keeping notes on your smokes so you know what exactly was done last time, what you liked and didn't and what you like to try different. That way next Thanksgiving you can remember what worked right the last time. Just a suggestion.

Smoking is all about no stress, a beautiful day, and enjoying the smoke. It smells so good.
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