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Pickling a Turkey with Pops Curing Brine

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by pops6927, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Put down another turkey, this one for New Year's, thought I'd share the process along the way. Starting out with a 12lb. turkey, thawed in the fridge, then put in the sink:

    Made up agallon of brine in a gallon drink pitcher of:

    1 cup sugar
    1 cup salt
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 tbsp. of DQ Cure #1 (same as Instacure #1 or Prague Powder #1)
    1 gal. water

    Stir thoroughly until it clears, stir a little more!

    Filled up the injector with the brine:

    The injector comes with two tips: an artery tip that shoots out the end and a 360° tip with holes that shoot in all 4 directions:

    Suck up a barrelfull of pickling brine and shove the tip (I use the 360° broadcast tip) into the turkey breast, then shoot the brine in; Refill and repeat 2 or three times each side of the breast and also into the thighs.

    Then I use a plastic liner in one of the food crispers of the refrigerator, place the turkey in it upside-down (breast down) in the bin

    then cover with pickling brine. It took the rest of that gallon plus one more gallon. Then, I filled up a gallon ziploc with icecubes and weighted the bird down to keep it under the brine, folded the bag over and pushed in the bin.

    I'll leave it there until this Thursday, New Year's Eve, then pull it out, rinse it off anc pat dry, then smoke for about 3 hrs. until the internal reaches 160° in the breast and thigh (pics to follow after Thursday).

    This is how I make my pickle brine turkey (pickled with cure). It has a distinct ham flavor, is extremely juicy and tender!
    patsy yates likes this.
  2. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Now this one sounds interesting there pops. I'm thinking about what it would taste like. I have tried curing of pieces of meat like a chuck roast and it gave it a nice kinda twang to the meat. So how would you describe the flavor or the taste there pops.??
  3. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It has a ham-like flavor with the taste and texture of turkey; a true gourmet delicasy flavor along with the smoke flavor on the outside. It is a distinct delicate combination that I remember so well from my growing-up years at my dad's store; he would make pickled smoked turkeys for New Year's Eve/Day celebrations for select friends and good customers plus one for us; back then in the 50's and early 60's it was a much harder process to do because he had to pluck and eviscerate them too; you didn't get them all clean and in a plastic wrap like you do now, lol! You got them from the local turkey farmer with their neck broke; that was it. I used to help pluck them, too - I was the only of us three kids who liked plucking them because I liked eating them, lol! You gutted and plucked them, burned off the pinfeathers, then 'pulled' the legs. Dad had a unique contraption hanging on the wall; a turkey-leg puller. You'd clamp the foot of the turkey in it and pull the handle and it would pull the leg with all the ligaments out of the drumstick; you never had to fight with a myriad of ligaments in the drum when eating it. That's where the saying "You're pulling my leg" came from.
    Like any ham product, it has a salt-sugar flavor along with the distinct 'cured' flavor the nitrate imparts.
    This same brine I use for Canadian Bacon, Buckboard Bacon, hams, picnics, belly bacon and corned beef (with some pickling spice added). I add another cup of salt for dried beef, otherwise it's the same.
    I'll be doing an Easter ham with it this spring (hmmm, when is Easter this year? Got to get past St. Pat's day first... another brining experience!).
  4. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for sharing the recipe Pops, I'll have to give that a try.
  5. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  6. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks pops...I need to try this!!!
  7. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Time to git a smokin'! Got the turkey out of the brine this morning, rinsed it off and patted it dry, tied up the wings with a bit of butcher twine (to keep them away from the sides of the smoker so they don't get too burned up) and into the smoker by 7am:

    My Cabela's electric smoker has done a great job over the last couple years; but is getting too small for all the smoking I'm doing lately; I'm looking at building a wood smoker in the back yard this year of some kind where I can do several turkeys at one time. These have gotten so popular with friends and family of both myself and my older son we've had to arrange days to smoke... he smokes one for one friend, I smoke one for another the next day, and so on. I can build one with rods I can hang from then just stockinette the turkeys and hang 'em to smoke 'em. That keeps them with great conformity, pushing the breast halves together, the thighs tight, etc.
    Now, my younger son is getting interested in smoking too, so we'll have to expand operations! lol!

    More pics to come, it should be done by 10 am!
  8. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Flipped the bird onto it's breast after 1 hour, then back to it's back at the second hour; these are pics of it from back to front at the 2nd hour:

    You can see the grill marks and the flattening of the breast, that's one of the reasons why I want to build a wooden smoker that I can hang these from with stockinette and ham hooks, much better presentation of the product when finished!
    Put the thermometer in the breast when I flipped it, reading 130° so far, let it get to 160° in the breast (should be about 170° in the thigh) and it's done, about another hour to go!
  9. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It finished! The skin gets a little too dark from the proximity of the smoker walls (again, why I need to build another smoker, lol!) but the meat is just fine.

    These are pics from a previously done turkey but the meat is all the same, showing the nice pink color of the dark meat, indicative of the curing agent:

    also of what's left of a wing (couldn't resist..):

    Hope you liked the thread; if you get the chance, try it, you'll like it!
  10. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Looks delicious Pops.On the to-do list.....[​IMG]
  11. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks great Pops.
    I've got the same sort of tip on my injector with the 4 directions, but it sure doesn't work out at all on small cuts of meat, I learned that when I squirted A1, worcestershire mix allover me the other day [​IMG]
  12. freshmeat

    freshmeat Smoke Blower

    Pops helped me with this process a couple weeks ago; I highly recommend trying this. I am not new to brinning, somehow this bird seemed to be even juicier compared to my previous without any cure. I was also pleasantly surprised at how much of a 'hammy / strami' taste actually is present.

    Thanks for sharing![​IMG]
  13. fagesbp

    fagesbp Smoking Fanatic

    I know this is an old post, but what temp did you smoke at?
  14. i did this for christmas 2013 and my partners daughter would not stop picking bits off ,funny but she does not like turkey!!!!! i well recommend trying this 
  15. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Can you leave the turkey in the wet brine longer than say 24 hrs ? If so how long would be the most without "over doing it" ? The reason I ask is I just put 2 in the wet brine and I may not be able to smoke them for another day or so. Thanks in advance Pop.

  16. i injected and then left the turkey in the brine for 3 days the brine needs time to cure the meat into a turkey ham
  17. camtr

    camtr Newbie


    I realize this thread was started a while ago and I just joined this site, I have been smoking meats and poultry for a few years but always want to make sure I do things rights so I have a question that I hope someone will help me with concerning brine and cure, I did search use the search function but must admit I did not read everything that showed up as I am running out of time.

    I just brined a 13 pound turkey using this cure and I was hoping to make one gallon work but it would not so I made another half batch and covered the bird and yes I did inject it first.  I plan on brining it for 3 days and then smoking it, my question is this being I had to make the 1/2 batch of brine to completely cover the bird should I have left the cure out of the half batch, my concern is too much cure per pound of bird.  A related question would be say if you do a chicken would you just make up a half batch of this brine and only use enough to cover the chicken regardless of the weight of the chicken? 

    Thank You very much for any replies with answers or recommendations.
  18. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The amount of cure in Pop's brine is based on how much water is used. So for 1.5 batches you should use 1.5 tablespoons of cure #1. You are good to go and you are going to love the Pop's cured turkey. It's delicious!
  19. camtr

    camtr Newbie

    Thank You for easing my mind, it sure does look delicious and hard to wait for.  I believe I understand better now and the cure per pound of meat or poultry is more a dry rub issue and if I understand the concept correctly as long as you make Pop's brine cure at the given ratios it does not matter how much brine you use as long as it covers the meat or poultry your brining.  Thanks again.
  20.  You have it right. It sure makes things easy. I have made this recipe and liked it very much. I often do just a bone-in breast now instead of a whole bird. I hope you like yours.