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Question for the Turkey Gurus!!!!

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by nhsmoke-eater, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. nhsmoke-eater

    nhsmoke-eater Newbie

    Hey folks.

    New to the forum as a poster, but have read here for over a year.

    For over 10 years I have cooked our thanksgiving bird in our Weber Kettle Grill while living in NJ.

    Over the summer we moved to NH, and left the kettle grille for the new residents of the NJ home, but took my Propane smoker with me.

    We always cooked two turkey breasts, about 8lbs each, in the kettle grille.

    I smoked one 14lb turkey, after brine, in the smoker, but never wrote down the time cooked into my log book.

    Going on how we always have smoked chickens, pheasant and the like, I told the Mrs. to get two turkey breasts.  She was unable to locate such in our little limited food store, and instead, [ugh] brought home a 20lb tom.

    So here's where I get confounded:

    Going on what I am reading, a bird this big will take forever, and, may NOT properly cook thru.

    If I was to cut this tom in half, after a trip to the brine, and cooked at a temp of about 225-250, how long is the cooking time?

    Is it even possible to cook the bird, cut in half?

    always the oven,but smokin's just sooooooo much bettah.

    do I base the time @ 40min per pound?  and, if so, is it based on the original 20lb, or do I base it on 10 lb? [based upon the weight of 1/2 a turkey.

    What to do??????

  2. pops6927

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

    The easiest way to prevent botulism in the bird is to add a tbsp / gal. of water of cure #1, and you will have a very unique and flavorful bird, with a ham flavor to it and you would not have to worry about the 40° to 140° in 4 hours rule.   The result is a true delicacy! 

    Short of that, you could spatchcock it or just split in half, laying the halves down and turning and basting.  You would smoke and cook like a 10 lb. bird and arrive to temp within 4 hours with no problem.  If grill space in your smoker is a concern, split the bird vs. spatchcock so you can reverse one of the halves to take up less room.  Cut through the backbone and remove the keel bone (breast bone) and cut in half.

    Please take a minute and go to roll call and introduce yourself so we may welcome you properly!  There are instructions and a welcome note by Jeff at the top of the page!  Thank you so much!
  3. webowabo

    webowabo Master of the Pit

    How long would you cure the bird in the brine Pops! I just pulled my 20lber out of freezer to the fridge. I was planning to spatch mine and throw in the UDS.. but you have me intrigued with the cure. Could I brine/cure the bird while its thawing out? Or does it need to be thawed prior to the cure brine? Ive never messed with brines cause I never have room... but I just got a new fridge to help out for situations like this...

    Thanks and happy Thanksgiving!
    Did you get any sleet at all this weekend? I didnt get anything as "they" where warning us we would!
  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    If it were me, I'd spatch that puppy and not look back! That would give you two ten pound birds. I figure about 1/2 hour per pound runnin the smoker at 250* to get to an IT of 165* in the thigh. I used to smoke my turkeys at that temp, but have gone to the high temp method and run the smoker at 325*. I have not cooked a spatched turkey yet at those high temps. Last year my 14# bird was done just over 3 1/2 hours running the smoker at 285-300. Was super cold and windy so had some temp issues. I will be doing a spatched turkey but not till later in the year. Only going to be two of us this thanksgiving so were are doing a bone on breast.
  5. nhsmoke-eater

    nhsmoke-eater Newbie

    First off, thanks to everyone for such quick replies.

    Here in NH, it's right now 18 degrees.  The predicted high for Thursday is 30???? usually, subtract 5 degrees for the over-zealous weatherman.

    At that outside temp, I can usually keep my smoker at about 225-250 with no troubles.  Factor in wind, and it's colder.  Last night it was 7!!!!! with 30mph wind.

    Anyway, I had thought,once cut in half, to count on smoking both halves together after a brine for 6 hours, followed by a wrap in foil and the cooler to distribute the juices.

    I'm using apple wood chips, and also plan to use a water pan filled with apple juice, as I did with the turkey I mentioned above.

    Am I on the right track as far as timing?


    Last edited: Nov 25, 2013
  6. nhsmoke-eater

    nhsmoke-eater Newbie

    So my big Tom got cut in two, backbone removed.  I brined him for two days, in a combination of Kosher coarse salt, dark brown sugar, spices and garlic.

    This morning, with the temperature outside @ 23 degrees, and the wind blowin' about 15mph, the two halves went into a pre-heated smoker using Apple chips, and my water bath tray filled with 1/2 apple juice, 1/2 chardonnay.

    Of course, during this operation my temperature guage on the outside of the smoke falls off, and stops functioning.  {UGH!!!!!!} [​IMG]

    Switching to the "IMPROVISE, ADAPT AND OVERCOME" outlook, my Fluke meter, with Temperature probe attached was lowered to the center of the smoker to reveal a cooking temp of 256-265.  Good enough in my eyes.

    Because of the cold and wind, I'm planning on a six hour cook time.  If he arrives early, it's a foil wrap and into the cooler.

    Start Time:  09:45

    Estimated Time of Chow: 16:00-16:30.

    I'll post a sit-rep as we progress.....  [​IMG]

  7. bimmer

    bimmer Fire Starter

    Careful you don't end up with a melted Fluke!
  8. nhsmoke-eater

    nhsmoke-eater Newbie


    No, it's not!!!! being left up there.[​IMG]  
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  9. I've never posted but thanks for the information. I'm trying to get an estimated cooking time... I have an 8lb bird that met the brine for 24 hours then fridge to help dry skin...followed by a good rub in butter and spices. In OH it's about 23 degrees...I'm cooking it at 225 not sure how long to cook it.
  10. nhsmoke-eater

    nhsmoke-eater Newbie

    I would say about 40 minutes a pound for an internal temperature of 165
  11. Thanks it turned out great.
  12. nhsmoke-eater

    nhsmoke-eater Newbie

    So as a final report, all went well with my turkey endeavor.

    6 hours in the smoker, one load of apple chips, water bath refilled about 4x.

    We had a beautifully browned, moist turkey with huge flavor!!!!

    Everyone ate well, and there's plenty for another sitting!!!!!  lol