I want to smoke a Turker for the FIRST TIME.

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by mhayen, May 13, 2009.

  1. mhayen

    mhayen Newbie

    I am planning on smoking a turkey for the first time on Sunday.
    Planning on buying one from the local supermarket. (ideas?)
    Brine it with a recipe that I find on this site. (ideas?)
    Thinking about using a Mesquite wood chips and oak?

    It appears that I should have the temp inside the smoker to be around 300 degrees. If i can get the smoker to stay at that temp for about how long should it be in there? My smoker does get hot and it might be hard to control the temp to keep it that low.

    Pics of the smoker are below. It is propane and I have two small steel containers to put the wood chips or logs into. The propane burners do burn real hot and I seem to get more of a fire rather than a smoke. This is a homemade unit that I aquired.

    Any ideas to help me out. Let me know if you need more pics?

    I do have a blower motor as well. See bottom pic.
  2. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Here's a bit of help for you my friend. Not the absolute way, but just what has worked for me. I'll hit your points as I go down your list:

    1- Stick with a bird under 15 pounds. Bigger ones take a lot more work, and unless you have a crowd, a nice 12-14 pounder will be just fine. I stay away from Butterballs, since they are to greasy for me. Regular, local grocery types are fine. My personal favorite, if you can find it, is "Riverside" brand. No reason other than my wife and I think they taste the best.

    2- Never brined a bird in my life so I can't help you there. Never thought to need to, but there are as many ways an opinions as you can imagine, and they are all good. Lot's of follks swear by it.

    3- Mesquite or oak. Mesquite is a little strong for turkey. Oak is good. Had great results with apple, cherry, pecan and hickory woods on turkey. Nothing wrong with mesquite- smoked turkey's with that too- it's just that unless everyone loves a strong smoke flavor, you might want to go milder. If you can get a hold of grapevines, lots of older dried ones, they're great on poultry.

    4- Temperature. Target 300F min, 325F max. Your propane should be able to hold that fairly steady. You mentioned it couldn't. Can you regulate the gas flow with the valve(s)? You may want to put a regulator between your tank and the burner. Cannot tell you a time. You HAVE to cook poultry to an internal temp for Food Safety reasons. 165 Farenheit internal is the minimum you should cook it to, measured at the thickest part of the meat. Lots of folks temp the breast, but a larger bird ends up having a touch of undercooked thigh. I always temp the thigh. No worries, it's you choice.

    Also, relating to temp control. I would recommend you do not use the blower if you're using the gas. No sense in blasting in excess heat if you say you're having trouble maintaining temps.

    With propane, you are always going to get flame. That's the way it works...you have to burn the propane to get heat. Put the wood in your metal pans and place them over the heat source and let them smoke.

    Don't over-do it. If you can smell it, you are smoking. You want thin blue smoke. Don't worry if a couple pieces of your wood catch on fire, they will go out as soon as you close the door.

    Good luck to you and your first turkey. You will be surpirsed at how easy it really is. Keep us posted and don't forget pictures.
  3. Since it is only my wife and I, and she doesn't like anything but the white meat, I usually do turkey breasts rather than the whole bird.

    But I did a 12 pounder for Thanksgiving when my bro-in-law was visiting and my smoking log showed it took 5 1/2 hours at 325, so that should serve as a guideline, at least. As Rivit said, though, cook to temp and take the temp at the thigh, not the breast.

    I like apple, cherry, pecan for poultry. Oak would be OK, and hickory might be, too, if you like a strong smoke taste. I would avoid mesquite, which to me is only good for very short smokes.
  4. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Slaughterhouse Poultry Brine By Tip Piper of Hillbilly Vittles
    1 ½ Gal Water
    ½ C Salt - Kosher
    ½ C Dark Brown Sugar
    2 tsp Garlic Powder
    2 tsp Onion Powder
    2 tsp Cajun Spice (Louisiana Cajun Seasoning)
    2 tsp Celery Seed

    Slaughterhouse Poultry Injection
    ½ Pkg Good Seasons Italian Dressing
    2 tsp Garlic Powder
    2 tsp Celery Seed
    2 TBS melted Butter (non salted)
    2 C Apple Cider

    Slaughterhouse Spritz (Good fer everthin!)
    8 oz Apple Cider
    6 oz Water
    4 oz Whiskey
    2 oz Cider Vinegar
    Hickory er maple fer woods er my choice, I smoke turkey at bout 325° ta an internal a 170° in the breast.
  5. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Travcoman45's brine is excellent all I use. I'll be smoking a turkey Friday or Saturday. I'll brine in the Slaughterhouse brine overnight then rinse the bird well when it comes out of the brine. Pat it dry then apply rub and into a 325 degree smoker with apple chips. After the first hour and a half I'll spritz every hour till the internal reaches 170 in the breast. Then I'll foil it for 20 minutes and slice
  6. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've done a fair share of turkeys and never did brine any of them. They all seem to have come out to our liking. I smoke turkeys @ 275F or right about there. I do mine to an internal temp of 170F in the breast. For woods of choice I like hickory, apple, cherry and or oak. Next time around I am going to try some mulberry with some poultry. I also use apple juice mixed with southern comfort as a spritz.
  7. jdt

    jdt Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    lots of good stuff there, I guess all I would add is make sure and get a fresh turkey if you brine, the water or solution added birds don't take the brine very well in my experience.
  8. mhayen

    mhayen Newbie

    Since I don't have a "fresh" turkey available, I went to the local Walmart and bought a Jennie-O turkey. It is in the process of thawing right now.

    I am not planning on brining it. I bought some hickory chips and will use that.

    I am the rookie here and once I really get this down then I will try to experiment a little bit.

    Any other thoughts or input?

  9. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sounds like you got the basted turkey- good to go! No need to brine, rub, fondle, spindle or mutlilate.... [​IMG]

    Just thaw it out and rinse it to get any remaining ice out of the cavity. Take out the giblets packet.

    You can salt and pepper it or not prior to smoking, but you'll be very happy with a naked bird for your first smoke where you can enjoy all the hickory and turkey alone.

    Smoke it at 275 to 325 F. I recommend 300 F but that is just my opinion.

    Add the chips every now and then to keep the Thin Blue Smoke going and no more.

    Use an internal thermometer to check for done-ness. Either a handheld probe (Wally-World 5 dollars) or an electric one (much more, Ace Hardware) and smoke until 165 Minimum at either the breast or thigh- careful not to touch the probe to a bone.

    That's it, let it rest 10 minutes, slice and enjoy. You will be surprised at how easy it is to cook a (as folks say) "professionally done" turkey.

    Good luck to you and keep us posted!
  10. mhayen

    mhayen Newbie

    This past Sunday I smoked the turkey.

    I ended up brining it for about 30 hours. I used Hickory chips and at one point I put on an oak log.

    It turned out WONDERFUL. Best turkey I've had in a long time.

    It was real relazing hanging out by the smoker watching the smoke come out. In the middle of smoking my wife did run and get a spray bottle to keep the fire from burning too hot.

    I did have a couple cocktails while waiting and after the turkey I did end up taking a long nap.

  11. billbo

    billbo Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Turkeys take longer than you think sometimes much like a brisket. Plan on it taking longer than you think and you'll be OK.
  12. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Congrats mhayen, glad your bird turned out so good.
    Very happy to see that you decided to brine the bird.
    Now you have me debating thawing out a bird I got free last Thanksgiving, been meaning to smoke her anyway.
  13. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Looks good [​IMG] now that ya got the hang of it try one with apple chunks gives it a nice flavor
  14. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Congrats on a successful smoke. I have one thawing out as we type.
  15. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Exactly what Piney said! Congatulations on your first turkey. You'll be doing many more..... Smoked turkey os great all year long and makes great sandwiches for work or just snacking.
  16. mhayen,

    Could you describe this successful turkey smoke? How long? What temp? Did you keep adding chips to keep the smoke going or did you stop smoke after a period of time? Most importantly, what were you drinking during the smoke?


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