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"Precooking" a turkey before smoking

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by lav25, Nov 9, 2013.

  1. lav25

    lav25 Fire Starter

    I'm going to be smoking a turkey this Thanksgiving, and so far, the largest poultry I've smoked has been pretty small (2 kilos/4-1/2 pound range).  This bird will be in the 10-12 pound range, so I'm looking at roughly 6 hours of cook time.  Unfortunately, that means the bird goes in the smoker at about 7 a.m. for an early afternoon feed.  What I'm wondering about is a trick my mom used to do (pre-Reynold's cooking bags) for oven roast turkey, where she'd set the oven  very high (450-475 ish) for the first half hour of cook, then drop it to 350.  She swore it could take an hour or two off the overall cook time with no ill effects.  Would this work for a smoke?  Put it in the oven in the kitchen on high for a half an hour, then transfer it quickly to the smoker?  I haven't been able to find anything about it either way, maybe it was just my mom's trick (and she wasn't smoking the bird).

    Suggestions?  Opinions?


  2. Spatchcock the bird and expose the joints.....you'll cut the cooking time in half.

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
  3. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Slow down... 6 hours for a 10-12 lber???     A bird should NEVER take that long to cook.   I'm doing a 15 and a 20 lb birds and it won't take over 4 hours. Go about 350...perfect temp range imo for a fast flavorful bird. 

    What temp are you cooking at?

    What kind of smoker/fuel?

    Have you ever spatchcocked?
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
  4. I would not want to do a quick, hot oven sear and then put it in a medium to low smoker.  I would start earlier or eat later :)  If your smoker is a low temp one (less than 325), then I would do the opposite - smoke for a few hours and then cook in the oven after.

    The reason it worked for your mom, is that it was all in the oven, and the oven started at a high temp to brown the outside, and then you lower the temp and the oven slowly goes down to 350 for the longer cooking time. The bird is all in the same place retaining heat. I don't think that technique would work if you move the bird to a different place.  I think that would mess with the internal temperature and bacteria and stuff.

    I am normally up early cooking on Thanksgiving, so if I needed to start smoking the bird at 0700, then that is normal.  You could smoke the bird earlier in the week and reheat.  Smoked turkey is good at room temp also.
  5. lav25

    lav25 Fire Starter

    Thanks to all for the tips, to answer FWIsmoker's questions (because they seem to be following a theme)

    I cook to temp not time, but I've heard that you should allow 1/2 hour per pound.

    Using a modded ECB in the mid-60s F (outside temperature)  with lump charcoal doubt I'll be able to hold more than 300 F or so.

    Sounds like the pre-cook is a bad idea.  Thanks again for the tips and questions, they've already helped. 


    Never spatchcocked, just learned the word from the answers to this question
  6. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    With enough intake and exhaust you'll be able to get over 400* if you wanted.  Many people forget about the exhaust, if there isn't enough exhaust then the smoker won't pull enough air to get as hot as you'd like.    Do you have a pic of the smoker and mods we can see?