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Safe time for holding turkey

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by packdog, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. I need a little help from the group.  Given the years of experience on the board I figure someone has faced a similar problem.  I have 2 turkeys to smoke for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow afternoon. The problem is that dinner is at my in-laws and they are 4 hours from my house.  My plan is to start smoking early tomorrow morning and transport them right off the smoker.  Can I hold them at a safe temp for a 4 hour trip?  I figured to double wrap in foil, cover in towels and pack in a cooler.  Or should I smoke them today and cool them in the fridge and transport cold? 

    Thanks in advance,

  2. bravery

    bravery Fire Starter

    Great question. I smoke Boston Butts on a regular basis and there are times when I need to "hold" them.  I just wrap them up in towels and then in blankets and place them in a cooler. They keep wonderfully in my cooler!

    The question is... will the turkey be as forgiving?
  3. bravery

    bravery Fire Starter

    This is from Jeff's Smoking Meat Newsletter (I get his email newsletter... you should subscribe if you don't get it already).

    Anyway... Jeff says (in the Newsletter dated November 7):

    "What is the best way to travel with the turkey? When the turkey is finished cooking (165 degrees F) wrap in foil then double wrap with thick towels. Place the wrapped turkey down into an empty ice cooler. Fill in any remaining space with more towels, throw pillows, newspaper, etc. to further insulate it. This should keep the turkey above 140 degrees F for 3-4 hours. Be sure to use a digital probe meat thermometer attached to the turkey to ensure that proper temperatures are maintained during travel time."

    I think that might be your answer!
  4. iowa josh83

    iowa josh83 Smoke Blower

    I would be pretty concerned about holding turkey for more than 2hrs. This is just my opinion.

    I'm with bravery on holding pork butts or shoulders for that long but they are solid chunks of meat. Since the turkey is hollow I would be concerned it would loose too much heat.

    My opinion, cook today reheat tomorrow. I'm sure if you do some searching you can find a topic on smoking turkeys ahead and reheating to give you some help on this topic.

    Happy smoking and Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    As long as you stay above 140 you are good to go. If it drops below 140 you have 4hrs to either consume, cool below 40 degrees or reheat to above 165 to be held above 140.

    The method described above is how I would transport it hot. I am doing smoked turkey breast for our family, but serving cold.

    Happy Thanksgiving

  6. spoolinaz

    spoolinaz Meat Mopper

    The answer is, absolutely! If you insulate it well enough in a cooler, it will hold for quite awhile. The only downside is that the skin, no matter how good out of the smoker, will be tough and soggy. But it's ok, the hold will do wonders for that turkey! I always like to hold my smokes for at least 1-2 hours before serving. That extra time does so much good for the meat, breaking down connective etc. To be safe, leave the therm in the bird so you can monitor the resting temps. Keep it 150 or above until you are ready to serve. Preheat the cooler with hot water before packing to help that much more.
  7. Thanks for the quick replies.  Preheating the cooler is a great idea!  Thanks for the suggestion..  I have a 110 power converter for the truck and thought about putting a heating pad inside the cooler to help keep the temps up.

    Great information.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

  8. Just to say thanks for the suggestions and give a little report.  After 4 hours of driving the turkeys were still showing a temp of 143.  As suggested, My nice crisp skin had turned to rubbery plastic but they stayed in the safe zone.  I thought they were a little dry but no one other than me seemed to notice or care. 

    Thanks again,

  9. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Very good.

    Unfortunately there really is not much to do about moisture when holding hot for 4hrs. The breast will dry out a bit. Sounds like you had a very successful cook and service. Tilt your favorite beverage back and enjoy the moment.....