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Going big for Thanksgiving - Tips please!

pi guy

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This year we're hosting Thanksgiving, for about 20 people. My initial thought is to do two whole turkeys, maybe 10-15 lbs each (??). I have many questions, so I'm going to do a test run next Monday on one or maybe even both deep fried and smoked versions (I'd like to do both on Thanksgiving Day for variety and a challenge LOL). I'm wondering what your thoughts are before I start...

Turkey #1 - Deep Fry
Wet brine 24 hours
Dry in fridge for 24 hours
Peanut oil
*What temp to get the oil?
*How long to plan in the fryer?
*Is it worth it to inject before deep frying?

Turkey #2 - Smoked
MES40
Wet brine 24 hours
Dry in fridge for 24 hours
*Season with ?? (still thinking abut this)
*Brush/baste with seasoned butter (when is the best point in time to start basting?)
*The MES only goes to 275 - will this be ok?

Any other thoughts, precautions, observations? I take a lot of direction from you all here and I've never been steered wrong, so thanks!!
 

JckDanls 07

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For deep frying tips.. check out this thread


As for smoking... Since you only have an MES.. I would suggest the last 10-15 degrees (165in the breast) of cooking time to be in a 350` oven. This will help crisp the skin up some ... Also remember every time you open the door for brushing/basting you lose 15 minutes or so of cooking time ... So plan accordingly for that...

Myself.. I like to separate the skin from the breast and put pats of seasoned (with the same rub ) butter underneath directly on the breast meat.. others will chime in ...
 

Dirty Steve

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I’ve haven’t smoked a turkey yet. i use to deep fry years ago. I always injected it with Paul Newman’s Italian dressing then covered in Dijon mustard and then put your favorite poultry rub on. It was always a hit and people that baked them would be passed because mine was always better. If I recall correctly it was 3 mins a pound, you should look that up. Also I think 350 is where the oil should be, again look that up. Good luck.
 

mike243

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My best smoked turkey method with a MBS is to give it 2 hours in the smoker keeping the smoke rolling, add chips chunks every 30 minutes, then into a cooking bag and finish in the oven. you can brine dry what ever but 2 hours of good smoke will be plenty, have fun and happy holidays
 

Cattoon

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Definitely inject for fried turkey and it doesn’t hurt for smoked either. I’m a fan of the Tony chacherez creole butter injection and I will normally rub with butter and sprinkle with Tony’s creole seasoning.
 

forktender

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As know , Im. not a fan of injecting anything except butter in turkey. I enjoy the flavor of turkey so why mask it with anything that is going to mask the flavor. For me it simple turkeys get injected with butter only every single time I smoke, roast or fry a bird.

If you're doing up two birds do them up two different ways to see which you prefer.

Good luck.
Dan
 

pi guy

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Thanks everyone. The one thing I thought about was if it rains. Then I'm screwed with a huge vat of oil outside. But is my smoker big enough for 2 birds?

I'm really trying to avoid using the oven, since it will probably be full of sides. But if I have to finish it in there I will have to figure it out. I don't want rubbery skin!

Thanks for all your tips! I'm still trying to figure this out, so I'm all ears!
 

Kevin DeShazo

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Since the MES doesnt really get hot enough to get the skin crispy on its own, instead of butter, baste it with olive oil. Done it in the past and works great. We have brined ours for a couple days (black tea, bourbon and orange brine) dried it for a bit and into the smoker. Usually just season with SPOG but the recipe calls for Emerils Essence also and used that with good results.
 

SmokinEdge

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Have you ever cured meat before? Could do 1 turkey and cure your own ham. Takes about a week to do and is the best ham you have ever had.
 

chopsaw

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If I do more than one , I do a whole bird for looks and some dark meat , then do 2 or 3 breast . People like to see that whole bird , and the breast give you plenty of meat .
I inject and soak mine overnight in Pop's brine .
I wouldn't be opposed to doing a couple breast the day before , then the day of slice them into a pan that fits the MES . Add some turkey broth and cover with foil . Reheat in the smoker .
 

zwiller

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As resident SMF devil's advocate I'd recommend roasting one. Wife's family would not eat either fried or smoked. That being said, your plan looks good especially the test run. If that was my gig, I'd roast one, but also grab a breast and inject with Tony C and rub it night before and deep fry. I would also get some turkey drums and cure in Pops low salt and smoke. Alternately take whole birds and part out for same. I'd smoke the drums the weekend before TG. Good luck!
 

SmokinEdge

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SmokinEdge SmokinEdge

Where do you find uncured hams, and do you use bone in or boneless?
Leg hams are tougher to find other than at a butcher shop, but our local Wally World has fresh picnic hams that I use fairly often in between hog butchering. These are fresh with skin on and no pumped solution in them.
 

912smoker

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Great tips and you could also do a double smoked ham! Always a big hit at my house.
 

SmokinVOLfan

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I do the same around here. I have converted almost all of my family and in-laws away from the dry ass oven roasted birds. Save the oven for the sides!

You have some great advice. I am with Jack Daniels07 for the smoked one. Pats of butter and rub under the skin on the breasts. Only other suggestion I have it to spatchcock it as long as your smoker has room. Cooks more evenly and saves time as well. Since the MES only goes to 275 make sure you run it at that temp.

As far as the fried goes I normally just cover the outside of mine in Cajun seasoning and drop for about 3 1/2 min per lb. Always comes out juicy as hell no injection needed. Make sure it is completely thawed and you dry it really good with paper towels prior. Lower slowly into the oil. I always use one of those big grilling oven mitts when doing this.

Last several years the smoked bird has been the hit over the fried!
 

ravenclan

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I am a real fan of Tony Chachere creole butter injection and on a 18-21 pound turkey I use 3 bottles of it and I deep fry every year. Some years because of rain I had to put up a pop-up and cook under it. I do the deep fry so the oven is free for sides and dessert.
 

chopsaw

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fresh picnic hams that I use
The picnics have the best ham texture in my opinion . Hard to find around here .
I've been buying pork cushion from Gordons food service . It's cut from around the picnic . Makes a really good small ham , with texture like a picnic .
 

tallbm

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This year we're hosting Thanksgiving, for about 20 people. My initial thought is to do two whole turkeys, maybe 10-15 lbs each (??). I have many questions, so I'm going to do a test run next Monday on one or maybe even both deep fried and smoked versions (I'd like to do both on Thanksgiving Day for variety and a challenge LOL). I'm wondering what your thoughts are before I start...

Turkey #1 - Deep Fry
Wet brine 24 hours
Dry in fridge for 24 hours
Peanut oil
*What temp to get the oil?
*How long to plan in the fryer?
*Is it worth it to inject before deep frying?

Turkey #2 - Smoked
MES40
Wet brine 24 hours
Dry in fridge for 24 hours
*Season with ?? (still thinking abut this)
*Brush/baste with seasoned butter (when is the best point in time to start basting?)
*The MES only goes to 275 - will this be ok?

Any other thoughts, precautions, observations? I take a lot of direction from you all here and I've never been steered wrong, so thanks!!

The guys are giving great info!

Just a tip. I'd avoid brining a turkey you plan to deep fry. Water and hot oil = a disaster waiting to happen.
Instead I highly recommend buying and using one of the injectable marinades as they are usually just seasoning, butter, and oil which will be no problem.

Now with a smoked turkey or even an oven roasted turkey I am 200% onboard and recommending you brine it.

Be sure to read up on the process and timing of deep frying a turkey. It is serious business. It's actually not complicated but can go VERY WRONG very quickly. Like you aren't wearing long sleeves and gloves as you lower the turkey into the hot oil and it starts to spray/spit and burn the hell out of your skin. That can then lead to dropping the turkey and oil hitting an open flame.
OR dropping the turkey and knocking over 400F fry oil everywhere OR onto your legs and feet.

So some HUGE turkey deep frying safety tips:
  • Wear long sleeves and gloves when lowering into the fry pan
  • Use a FULLY DEFROSTED turkey. Ice or water with oil is a nightmare of spewing hot oil
  • If you have no help you must be strong enough to slowly lower a 15-20 pound turkey SLOWLY over 3- minutes into hot oil. Unless you want a geyser of oil spraying you and everything around you this is the only way
  • Get a wooden rod/broomstick and a 2nd person to help you lower the turkey into the oil. You use the rod through the lowering "triangle" and no one has to get sprayed with oil, no having to perform a workout of lowering a 15-20 pound turkey slowly alone.
  • Do this in an open area where above your frying pot you can't burn something above it down... like your garage, a tree, a shed, etc. People have caused a jet of oil flames shooting up when things go badly and they have to flee from dropping a turkey so don't burn down your house or the neighbor hood. DON'T put flammable stuff under the fryer like CARDBOARD. Do this out in the yard or on concrete that you can mess up with frying oil should it spill or spray over.
  • Use PEANUT OIL. Peanut oil has a higher flash point, meaning it can get hotter before it bursts into flames. People have deep fried without peanut oil but you don't want to get crazy and think "I have ton of coconut oil to use up" which has a very low flash point for oils. Feel free to blend some Peanut Oil and some other typical frying oil if needed. I have due to being short on Peanut Oil but I highly recommend you use a majority of Peanut Oil if you have to also use any different type of oil just try and have mostly peanut going. Don't use exotic non-typical frying oils. There are very sensible and safety related reasons to use peanut oil so try and use the right tool for the job :)
  • Measure your Oil amount properly before hand
    • Before you remove the turkey from the bag do an oil measurement for frying!
    • put the bagged turkey in your big fry pot and add water until it covers the turkey properly (a few of inches above because oil will fill the cavity of the real bird outside of the bag)
    • remove the bagged turkey
    • put a measuring tape in the water and measure how high the water goes up and WRITE IT DOWN, then pour out water
    • On day of frying put your measuring tape back into the empty pot and use your finger and some oil to mark a line inside the pot where the oil needs to reach
    • Pour oil up to the mark you made with your finger and some oil
    • Have some extra oil on hand incase you need to add a little more to cover the turkey. Adding a little later won't kill the oil temp. Adding a lot later might. Removing oil when entering the turkey... not an option so this is why we measure :D

So again this isn't difficult but things can easily go wrong if not prepared and going wrong with a deep fried turkey can turn into burning down the house, 3rd degree burns and hospitalizations, and other bad things.
When prepared and executed properly it's simple. Inject and season a fully defrosted bird. Get oil to proper temp and use correct amount (measure before frying). Fry turkey according to time and plan for it to be done 30-40 minutes before you need to eat. Often the weather and oil don't cooperate on hitting max fry temp so it may take longer and extra time is needed.

I hope al this info helps :)
 

mike243

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No crispy skin from a MBE smoker or at least mine at 275, thats the only temp I run inless doing sausages
 

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