Smoked my first Spatchcocked Turkey....

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by diverreb, Nov 1, 2014.

  1. Tried a whole Turkey a week ago.....  Came out too dry and chewy.  Read up on the Spatchcock method and decided to give it a shot...

    Have to get it right before the family comes down for Thanksgiving.  Spatchcock wins hands down for me...

    Fifteen pound freshly killed local farm Turkey....  Cut the backbone out, trimmed the excess fat & butt, split it buy pushing down on the breast side (used  cleaver to chop a little of the bone) and it was ready to prepare.

    Nothing elaborate....  Oiled both sides of the Bird...  Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Flakes, and some Treagar Poultry Rub on both sides.  Not a heavy coating....

    Set the Smoker (Yoder YS 480) to 325 with Hickory Pellets.  Just got the Tappecue WiFi Reader, so I was excited to try that....  Put the chamber probe in and left the other three outside, ready to put into the Bird.

    Prepping the Bird and went out to check the temps...  All were reading around 58!  Darn..  Must be something wrong with the Tappecue!  Not measuring the chamber temps...  WRONG!  Felt the pit and it was cool as a cucumber.  I had just cleaned the pit and upon reassembly forgot to put the Pellet Grate back into the fire box!  Soooo....  The box was filling with pellets and not igniting.  Oooops!

    Removed the pellets, put them back in the hopper and put the pellet grate back in and started the process all over....  In twenty minutes I was up to temperature and ready to put the bird in....  Kind of figured from what I've read, dinner was going to be a little late.  All kinds of time info out there with  wide variation in rage.

    Inserted a probe in each Breast and one in the thigh to see the differences between light and dark....  Chamber probe was toward the front right near the stack....

    Much to my surprise in less than two hours the Bird was up to Temperature.....  Breast was 160 and Thigh was over 180.....

    Bird was delicious....  Moist, Juicy, and full of flavor.  I know the family will be happy....  The only con is that the skin was not as crisp as an Oven Cooked Bird, but I'll sacrifice that any day of the week for the flavor of that Turkey.

    Want to do two Birds for Thanksgiving....  One on the bottom grates and one of the shelf...  I know it will take longer, but anyone have a guess as to how much longer?

    The Tappecue is a very cool device....  You can get the data on your Cell or Pad anywhere..... Don't have to stick around the house...

    It also graphs the entire cook so you can see pit temp variation as well as cooking temps over the cook time from each probe.  The four probes can be used for any combo of pit or food temps.

    I'll post some photos....  Since it was my first time using the Tappecue there are some wire management issues that need to be cleaned up, so please excuse the mess.  :)


  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Shouldn't take any longer. Might be a bit longer as there's a temp drop of the pit from the mass of cold meat. Spatched birds don't take as long as whole birds. If your not getting the crispness you want. When the bird hits 150-155 put it in the oven under the broiler too crisp it up. FYI 165 is the safe cook temp for poultry not 160.
  3. One 30 pound turkey will take longer than two 15 pound turkeys.But here you are cooking four halves of 15 pound turkeys So you really have four 7.5 pound pieces of turkey.
  4. Hello.  Case has you sorted on cook time and crisping the skin.  Have nothing to add there.  I am just curios:  I thought the Yoder held temps extremely well.  I have no experience with them.  Just curious as to why cooking the turkey whole didn't work.  I do spatchcock poultry more than not to save time but I have done whole birds in the past, in my experience it just takes longer. In my opinion I would go for spatchcocked every time but you want the " presentation" for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Just curious as to your experience.  Keep Smokin!

  5. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Way too much math involved here, my head now hurts.......

    I would have to find an electrical engineer to get all that set up. But it looks like you got it figured out cause that is a nice looking bird!

    I didn't mention, nice looking pit also!

    Its looks like a nice day on the patio. Congrats! Great job on that bird.
  6. 160 works fine.... It picks up a few degrees when resting under foil.... People pull it off at even lower temps.... 165 is a conservative recommendation... Same is said for cooking burgers medium rare or rare, yet it's done all the time. As long as the juices run clear and the meat is white I'm OK with it.... My birds are fresh killed loacally chilled, bagged, and on the cooker in a day or two later at most. Farm to table, as they say....

    I might drop the temp down to 300 and cook a little longer next time. Perhaps inject one of them to do a side by side comparison. I inject chickens and they turn out quite well.... Cook them whole.

  7. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Richie the only reason I mention the 165 temp is that SMF likes to err on the side of caution and uses the FDA safe food temps as the guidelines. Lots of new smokers, and cooks that visit the site are not familiar with cooking foods to internal temps. So it's good in posts to mention the proper safe temps as recommended by the FDA along with the temps cooked too.

    So what would the purpose of dropping the temp to 300 for your next smoke? If your looking for crisper skin raising the temp would be the direction to go. Most of the time when I smoke poultry I am running the pit at 350+ And almost never below 325 anymore.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014
  8. My thinking was a little lower and slower might make the bird even more tender....  I'm fairly new to smoking so I just like trying different things to see what results they yield.  

  9. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    All natural birds, especially wild birds, but also farm raised, can be a bit tough. This is one of the only types of poultry that I will brine prior to smoking. You may want to give that a try on your next natural bird. We buy non-enhanced natural birds and I always brine them. If we do get a Butterball or other brand that is enhanced I won't brine. Typically we brine for 12-18 hours. I use a simple brine of salt sugar, apple juice, water, oranges, cloves, pepper corns.  Rinse the bird, then let it air dry in the fridge for 8 hours. If the skin isn't dry at that point I will hit it with the hair dryer right before putting it in the smoker. Drying the skin is critical for crisping the skin up. As stated above I cook all my poultry at higher temps.
  10. Great tip....  I'll give it a try....Do they need to kept refrigerated while brining?  

    Care to share the brine recipe in terms of how much of each to use?  :)

    Really appreciate your help here.....

  11. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Short answer.  Yes.

    Long answer.  Yes, but you have options if limited on refrigerator space.  You can use a brining bag or 5 gallon Ziplock bag, put the turkey and brine in the bag, then in a cooler which you fill with ice.  

    If it is moderately cold outside during the hottest part of the day, like low 50's or lower, I've even put the bird in a 4 gallon stock pot, added the brine, added ice to the brine, put the top on the pot, wrapped it in towels or an old sleeping bag, then put it in the garage.  Ice was still in the brine 24 hours later. 

    Brine recipes vary quite a bit. Keep it simple for the first time you brine.   
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2014
  12. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    For a 14 pound bird I usually make a double batch

    1 1/2 cups, Kosher salt
    1 1/4 cups, brown sugar
    10 whole cloves
    3 teaspoons, black peppercorns
    1 1/2 gallons (6 quarts) apple juice or cider (non-alcoholic)
    3-4 whole oranges halved and squeezed into brine
    [optional: 3 teaspoons, dried thyme and/or 3 teaspoons, dried sage]

    Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive pot, bring mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes (partly covered). Allow brine to cool completely.

    Rinse turkey under cool running water, inside and out (remove giblets from body cavity). Pat turkey dry with paper towels, then immerse turkey in cooled brine.* Turkey should be completely submerged in liquid (place a plate on top of the bird if necessary to keep it covered with the liquid).

    Cover the pot and refrigerate for 8-10 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove turkey, rinse. air dry for 8+ hours.

    Use a food safe bucket or other non-reactive pot. or a mega jumbo plastic ziplock for brining.

    Last edited: Nov 3, 2014
  13. Thanks again.....

  14. Here is a pic of the pit temps over time.....  Missed the very beginning .......   Forgot to turn the App on right when I started....  The big dip was when I had the pit open for some photos.  The next dip was open for a shorter period....  Just shows that there are random variations over time but the average is pretty much where it needs to be....


  15. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Man, all that electronics, like my Avatar , I'm oldschool and just stick a probe in it and go to temp. then worry about the crispy skin...
  16. Outrageous!  Thank You Thank You Thank You....  Best Turkey I've had.....  This is the Thanksgiving Method for sure!  My family thanks you in advance too!  :)  Moist, flavorful, and tender!  Didn't even need gravy!

    Rubbed the Turkey with Pepper, Garlic Chips, Onion Flakes, Sage, & Thyme.......  Smoked it at 350....  Only took an hour and fifty minutes....  Used a Hickory Apple Wood combo.....

  17. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Glad you liked it Richie! Hope your family does too!
  18. poseidon

    poseidon Newbie

    Did you Spatchcock the bird this time or leave it whole for the smoker? Doing same for Thanksgiving up at girlfriends parents farm.
  19. Spatchcocked before brining...  Did the brine in a 16 QT Stainless (Nonreactive) Stock Pot.  Refrigerated overnight in the Pot.  Dropped the Bird in (14 Lbs) and put it back in the fridge.  That size pot should handle up to a 15 or maybe 16 Lb Bird.  Fits easier after spatchcocking....   any larger and I'd use a 20 quart pot or one of the other brining methods using roasting bags.   I've ordered 2 16 Pounders for the Holiday.  I'd move the bird around once...  Half way through the brine...  So if there is any skin contact with he side of the pot it will even out.  I didn't and the part in contact with the side was a bit lighter when I took it out....  Not that it made any difference after it was smoked....  Just be sure the entire Bird is covered in the brine.  I used to plates on top of it to keep it submerged.  

    I'm just wondering how much longer it will take with two Birds in the smoker.  Dinner has to be done by Game Time. (4:30 PM)  Less that two hours for one Bird...  Maybe an extra hour for two....  I have no clue....

  20. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Two 16 lbs birds should take the same amount of time as one 16 lb bird as long as the chamber temp is constant.  One 32 lb bird would take longer. 

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