Never, ever cooked a turkey in my life ?????

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DeeAnn

Newbie
Original poster
Aug 27, 2021
6
3
SE Texas
Uh oh.. I've stepped in it now!

This may sound absurd but in my 60 years I've never cooked a turkey at all so I'm totally clueless where to start!

I have a vintage OKJ Highland that I brought back from the dead and restored to near new condition. And I have a turkey.
I bought a ~12lb turkey today at HEB. I forget the brand though I know it's not a Butterball. Some lesser brand, I don't feel up to going downstairs to look right now as I don't think it's very important.
So the one I bought was thawed out already which is why I chose it because I figured it would take several days to thaw one out. I wanted a smaller one but they were all in the 12lb range and up however they did have some "young turkeys" that were around 8lbs (I would have preferred this weight) but they were in the $35-$40 range. I paid $11.93 for this one. It's a lot more than I need but I know I can give some to my dad.
It's supposed to rain all day thursday and my smoker isn't under a roof so I don't think I should try to start smoking it until friday. So maybe I can use wed and thur to get it ready to put on for friday.
I'm by myself this year so I don't care if it's a day or two off.

So now I'm wanting to smoke it, obviously, but I have no idea what to do first and what things I need. I don't have any way to submerge it in brine so that's probably not going to happen.
But I do have an injector so I bought some chicken broth and some turkey stock, I'm thinking that injecting it will help make up for not being able to "brine" it. To be honest I don't even know what's involved in "brineing" a turkey.
I didn't think to look for a turkey specific rub but I do have a decent assortment of spices and a few different poultry rubs.

I've got about 50lbs of lump oak and mesquite charcoal and I have a smoke generator I made to pipe smoke into the cooking chamber. I have several kinds of pellets, I've read that fruit woods are best for poultry.
Some people say mesquite is too strong but I prefer it though I'm willing to try the fruit/apple pellets.
I primarily use the firebox on the OKJ for heat and get smoke from the external generator.

So I think I have the things I need to do it I just don't know what I should do to prepare the turkey. I don't know at what temperature to smoke it at for maximum effect or for how long.
I discovered that smoking a brisket is quite complicated, what with the wrapping, resting and all the other steps. It was harrowing to smoke my first brisket a few weeks ago.
I'm new to smoking meat, this is the first smoker I've ever owned and it's all new to me, I'm a total noob novice with no experience at all with this.

I try to read stuff I find by google but they all conflict with one another and the more I read the more lost I get.
 

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Here's a step by step video from Jeff that should help. Just skip the brining process



And here's a no brine spatchcock version from Matt@Meat Church
 
Nice job restoring the smoker! Turkey is easier than brisket, no worries. Video's above are great ways. I don't think you'll need the extra smoke from the bottom. It will work out fine.
 
I'm new to smoking meat, this is the first smoker I've ever owned and it's all new to me, I'm a total noob novice with no experience at all with this.
First, not all smoke is good smoke. You want "clean" smoke. If you see gray or white smoke, the bird will get covered in ash and taste like an ashtray. You want thin blue to no smoke that still smells like smoke. Bury your wood under your charcoal in the side burner. Poultry takes on smoke rapidly so there won't be any need to add additional wood during the smoke.

Second; the smoke generator on the bottom is for cold smoking, not hot smoking a bird. My suggestion would be to not use it this time.

I don't have any way to submerge it in brine so that's probably not going to happen.
But I do have an injector so I bought some chicken broth and some turkey stock, I'm thinking that injecting it will help make up for not being able to "brine" it. To be honest I don't even know what's involved in "brineing" a turkey.

Brining is not only a matter of flavor but also of safety. Since you won't be brining the bird, keep it cold until ready to throw on the smoker. If you have space in your fridge, inject the bird the night before, but read the label first. If it says something like "contains (X)% sodium phosphate," the bird has already been brined commercially. If the percentage is only 2-3%, you can inject the bird. If it is in the 8-12% range, injecting the bird can make it too salty.

You can inject the bird right before you butter it up. I soften a cup of butter, add a tablespoon of some seasoning of choice, stir it together, then use my hands to spread it under and over the skin of the breast and the rest of the bird. Then I add my seasonings of choice to the outside. They only flavor the skin, not the meat.

Poultry likes high temps. For decades I roasted or smoked 4-6 turkeys a year, filling the freezer with low-priced protein at TG and Xmas. If you can keep your smoker in the 300-350F range, that will work great. Turn the breast away from the heat source and smoke/cook it until the breast reads 160-165F, the thigh 175-185F.

Don't peek over and over. Every time you open the smoker you release heat and extend your cooking time. Toss it in, close the smoker, watch your chamber temps, and don't bother looking at the bird for 90 minutes if you are in the 300-350F range. Check the temp of the meat and roughly figure how long more it will take. Poultry is pretty linear, meaning there isn't a meat stall at high temps. A 12 lb bird at those temps will take roughly two hours.

Ready? Set? GOOOOOOO!
 
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