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Input Needed. Cured Turkey and a 22" WSM.

FFchampMT

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Joined Jul 2, 2020
My dad has requested a smoked turkey this year. He fondly remembers a supply company giving his company a smoked bird every year that he says "tasted like ham". This leads me to believe it's a cured smoked bird.

I've got a plan to do a 5 day eq brine with the cure and inject the turkey @ 10%. The bird in the freezer is a Sam's Club whole turkey, with only 2% enhancement. I'll let it sit a day out of the brine/cure in the fridge, then season and smoke. Plan is 2 hours at 220-ish and then jack up in to 300+ until done.

Questions:
1) Doneness - Should I be aiming for 165 in the breast and 180 in the thighs?

2) EQ Brine/cure - I'll be aiming for 2%salt/1%sugar/0.25% cure 1. Does anyone have experience with these ratios in poultry? What else would you put in the brine?

3) Method - not planning on spatchcocking, but I could. It's a 10lb bird, so it'll fit under the lid. Alternatively I have a rib hanger, should I truss and hang the bird down from the hanger to capture hotter temp zones?

Any input/criticism/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
 

dirtsailor2003

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If it was me I'd spatchcock the bird. I wouldn't bother with the lower temp step process either. Run your pit at 350° or higher for the entire cook. Spatchcocking allows for an even cook and everything gets done at the same time.

Since the bird is enhances I'd skip any additional salt and just go with cure #1 and sugar. I would pull the bird from the brine and let it rest uncovered in the fridge at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. I typically shoot for at least 12 hours.

For doneness I cook to an IT of 165° in the breast and thigh.
 

tallbm

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My dad has requested a smoked turkey this year. He fondly remembers a supply company giving his company a smoked bird every year that he says "tasted like ham". This leads me to believe it's a cured smoked bird.

I've got a plan to do a 5 day eq brine with the cure and inject the turkey @ 10%. The bird in the freezer is a Sam's Club whole turkey, with only 2% enhancement. I'll let it sit a day out of the brine/cure in the fridge, then season and smoke. Plan is 2 hours at 220-ish and then jack up in to 300+ until done.

Questions:
1) Doneness - Should I be aiming for 165 in the breast and 180 in the thighs?

2) EQ Brine/cure - I'll be aiming for 2%salt/1%sugar/0.25% cure 1. Does anyone have experience with these ratios in poultry? What else would you put in the brine?

3) Method - not planning on spatchcocking, but I could. It's a 10lb bird, so it'll fit under the lid. Alternatively I have a rib hanger, should I truss and hang the bird down from the hanger to capture hotter temp zones?

Any input/criticism/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Hi there and welcome!

I'm with dirtsailor on like 99% of what he said there.

1. yeah u can go with those Internal Temps (IT) of the bird
2. I do those salt/sugar/cure ratios all the time on enhanced birds + amount of water weight and never have an issue. Figure out if you want less/more salt due to an enhanced bird and go from there. I add water, then when I see how much water it is going to take in the end I measure calculate my water + bird weight and measure out my salt/sugar/cure and dissolve that in the water using my magic bullet blender and pour it all over the bird. I mix the liquid around well then use that liquid to inject the bird so the cure gets deep in without having to wait a lifetime for it to penetrate from the outside in.
After all that I often also add dehydrated onion, granulated garlic, and cracked black pepper to my brine + bird and mix it in the solution. I just eyeball those seasonings and the flavor transfers super well.

3. Spatchcock or not is up to you. I hang or put on a big vertical rack in a pan to catch drippings. I do this because I read a long time ago that a vertical bird has better skin behavior as the heat rises up all around the bird and kisses the skin better than if it is on its back.
Which leads me to smoker temp. Go 325F or higher the whole time. If taking all this time to make an amazing bird you want skin that is going to be edible rather than rubber. At 325F you may likely end up with crispy skin but should end up with edible skin no matter what.

If you want more "hammy" taste use more hickory for smoke. The only thing i like 100% hickory on is bacon and I don't tend to go over 65% or so hickory in other cases. It's up to your taste preferences but about 65% Hickory, and then some Cherry or Cherry + other (Maple is my preference) would give you great color and great hickory flavor without being a bacon copycat and get great other flavor too.

I hope this info helps :)
 

FFchampMT

Newbie
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Joined Jul 2, 2020
I hope this info helps :)
It does help, thank you. This is my first real run with poultry and I know I should be able to run above 300 with B&B Lump. Ambient Temps will likely be in the 30's or 40's and I know I could run 330 with wide open vents at 70 degree ambient.
I did plan on hickory as we all like a strong smoke flavor, but I do have apple, cherry, and pecan wood handy as well so I'll aim for a mix.
 

thirdeye

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Questions:
1) Doneness - Should I be aiming for 165 in the breast and 180 in the thighs?

I actually go a little under on the breast of a cured turkey, around 160° in the thickest part. And yes 175° to 180° workd for me on the dark meat.

2) EQ Brine/cure - I'll be aiming for 2%salt/1%sugar/0.25% cure 1. Does anyone have experience with these ratios in poultry? What else would you put in the brine?

You mentioned a 2% enhancement of the bird, check the label for the fine print, some of Sam's poultry has been enhanced with chicken stock and I cure it using Pop's curing brine but my ratios are 1.7% salt and 1% sugar. I've actually never had an enhanced turkey come out salty.... maybe others will chime in if they have. Now, if the label mentions something like 'up to 12% added liquid' you might want to back off the salt just to make sure the salt factor is not too strong.

3) Method - not planning on spatchcocking, but I could. It's a 10lb bird, so it'll fit under the lid. Alternatively I have a rib hanger, should I truss and hang the bird down from the hanger to capture hotter temp zones?

If you are considering spatchcoking, this will be easier to cook than a whole bird. But consider this style of dressing your bird (halfcocking), it's almost impossible to overcook the breast.... you make one small cut at the pelvis, then cook each half to the perfect doneness. I'll post more photos of the procedure if you like.
8E9925Y.jpg

If you want to cook a whole bird, you can fill a pan with crushed ice and put the bird breast down in the ice for an hour or so (you want the temp of the breast to be several degrees colder than the leg/thigh). Now when it goes on the cooker the dark meat gets a head start on temperature.
 

FFchampMT

Newbie
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25
Joined Jul 2, 2020
If you want to cook a whole bird, you can fill a pan with crushed ice and put the bird breast down in the ice for an hour or so (you want the temp of the breast to be several degrees colder than the leg/thigh). Now when it goes on the cooker the dark meat gets a head start on temperature.
Thanks so much. This is the reason I really love this forum. Lots of experience and tips that have really helped me along over the years. I will drill down the enhanced sodium numbers, but when I gave a once over in the store it seemed pretty low.

edit to add: I've seen the halfcocking before, I will look in to it.
 

chef jimmyj

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thirdeye thirdeye HALFCOCKED ! That made me laugh. I too remove the Legs, been doing that for several years now. I also remove the Spine and Wings. The Spine, Wings, Neck and Giblets get roasted then go into making a Stock. I add my Salt, Sugar and Cure, as needed, to 10% of the birds weight in Stock. This gets injected! Gets more flavor in than just water. The remaining Stock goes in Dressing and is made into Gravy.

To cook, the Legs go in at 325, for an hour, then the Breast goes in and they come out together, when the Breast hits 155°F. The Legs are usually 20°F hotter at 175 and perfect for my taste.

This all gets done on Tuesday. The Turkey is cooked on Wednesday, gets Sliced, panned with Gravy and goes in the Refer. We reheat, make Veggies and eat at or leisure on Thursday with no rushing around...JJ
 

thirdeye

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thirdeye thirdeye HALFCOCKED ! That made me laugh. I too remove the Legs, been doing that for several years now. I also remove the Spine and Wings. The Spine, Wings, Neck and Giblets get roasted then go into making a Stock. I add my Salt, Sugar and Cure, as needed, to 10% of the birds weight in Stock. This gets injected! Gets more flavor in than just water. The remaining Stock goes in Dressing and is made into Gravy.

To cook, the Legs go in at 325, for an hour, then the Breast goes in and they come out together, when the Breast hits 155°F. The Legs are usually 20°F hotter at 175 and perfect for my taste.

This all gets done on Tuesday. The Turkey is cooked on Wednesday, gets Sliced, panned with Gravy and goes in the Refer. We reheat, make Veggies and eat at or leisure on Thursday with no rushing around...JJ
And there you go, instead of being picture perfect like Betty Crocker..... why not have everything that hits the plate be the perfect doneness and moistness?

'Spatchcock' always sparked my 7th grade sense of humor, and I'll admit I do wait for the right time to mention 'halfcocked' but this method works. . Much later, I noticed the NAMP description of dressing a chicken or turkey with this method.
ij7QSYa.jpg
 

SmokinEdge

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My dad has requested a smoked turkey this year. He fondly remembers a supply company giving his company a smoked bird every year that he says "tasted like ham". This leads me to believe it's a cured smoked bird.

I've got a plan to do a 5 day eq brine with the cure and inject the turkey @ 10%. The bird in the freezer is a Sam's Club whole turkey, with only 2% enhancement. I'll let it sit a day out of the brine/cure in the fridge, then season and smoke. Plan is 2 hours at 220-ish and then jack up in to 300+ until done.

Questions:
1) Doneness - Should I be aiming for 165 in the breast and 180 in the thighs?

2) EQ Brine/cure - I'll be aiming for 2%salt/1%sugar/0.25% cure 1. Does anyone have experience with these ratios in poultry? What else would you put in the brine?

3) Method - not planning on spatchcocking, but I could. It's a 10lb bird, so it'll fit under the lid. Alternatively I have a rib hanger, should I truss and hang the bird down from the hanger to capture hotter temp zones?

Any input/criticism/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
5 days in cure for poultry is a bit long for me. The meat tends to get “mushy” if cured too long. About 3 days would be my preference, but YMMV.
Nothing like cured poultry though! Awesome stuff. Best of luck.
 

noboundaries

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Poultry brines and cures fairly quickly in a wet brine. It isn't like beef or pork. 24-48 hours is plenty. I've even gone 72. Went longer once from an unexpected trip and did not like the result. Kinda chewy.

Do not include any kind of acid like OJ in the brine. I have an OJ brine I love and found that anything longer that 6-8 hours toughens the meat.

Poultry takes on smoke easily so I'm in the 350F camp from start to finish. 160F breast and 175F thigh are my targets. Curing and brining the bird makes it pretty forgiving for overshoots.

Have fun!
 

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