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Smoked Turkey Questions/Directions on Pre Injected Birds

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by rbranstner, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I am hoping this will be good info for both Newbies and a refresher for the experienced.

    I know there have been threads started on this in the past but I can't seem to find them. A quick run down. I am going to be smoking 5-10 birds for people at work before Thanksgiving then will freeze them and they will reheat them on Thanksgiving day for their meal bird. They are going to be picking up the bird and dropping them off at my place. I was planning on brining them and smoking them.

    I know in the past some birds (A lot of them) are pre injected at the factory with a solution and the rule of thumb kind of was if they are pre injected at the factory it doesn't do anything if you brine them since they can't take on any more of the moisture. Am I remembering that right????? Was hoping to spark up some debate on that and see if that is true or if people think the bird will still take on moisture and flavor and help in the overall taste/juiciness of the bird once it is smoked. Or if anyone can find those past threads just post them on here. I am going to keep looking for them. I swear I even started on like this last year but I can't find it under my created posts. If I can find a non injected bird I will buy it but from past experience around here they are all injected at the factory. If the bird won't take on any of the brine it may be better to just inject them then smoke them. Lets hear your thoughts.
  2. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    This is purely speculation on my part as I haven't done any testing but I would assume the brine would continue to flavor the turkey even if it was pre-injected. The bird and the brine will have to reach a point of equalization and that could be good or bad. If the pre-inject brine is very flavorful you could possibly dilute it or you may enhance it. If I recall correctly, another reason to brine a turkey is to pull the blood out of it. 

    I have brined every turkey I have put on the smoker except for the first time and there is a very noticeable difference. I have one that I started brining last night using Pops' original brine recipe. This will be my first cured turkey and I am looking forward to it. There are some more brining threads if you do a search for "cured turkey".
  3. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    I brine injected or non injected Turkey as in my opinion I can still get some flavor into the bird. If I had my choice I would select a non injected bird but often that's not an option around here.
  4. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

  5. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    From that link here's the one I tend to agree with

    "Here's the deal. The salt will try to equalize itself between the turkey and the surrounding salty water. If the brine is weaker, you'll draw salt out of the bird. If the brine is stronger, you'll have a saltier bird, up to the level in the brine.

    But part of the idea of brining is to add other flavors along with the salt. So in theory you could brine an injected bird and the salt moving in and out of the bird would carry your other flavors along with the salt.

    So you don't have to brine an injected bird, but you can if you want to add more flavor."  
  6. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I was going to brine it either way as that is what I always do but I got into a debate with one of my buddies the other day and he insisted that if the bird is an injected bird that your brine won't do anything so there isn't any point to put it in a brine. Thanks guys for your thoughts. I will keep doing as I have always done.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
  7. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Now I always brine my turkey's for to me it adds flavor and makes them juicier too. If the bird happens to be injected and really can you get a turkey thats not injected with some knid of something...........Things that make you go HHHHMMMmmmm
  8. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Honestly I don't think I can around here. I am going to check tonight when I go buy turkey's and see if they have any that aren't injected. Turkey is on sale for $.58 lb so I better get a few.
  9. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    You can get them from Whole Foods if you have one in your area. I would imagine most organic grocers have them.
  10. I don't think it does any good to re-brine, but injecting is a good way to add some flavor to those.  I've had some good success with that.
  11. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    I can only find enhanced turkeys and I still brine them with great success, just don't get the butter basted ones.
  12. bobcaat

    bobcaat Newbie

    When I brined a butterball turykey that was enhanced it came out too salty.
  13. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I can only find previously frozen turkeys here as well, which means they will be injected, also.

    Keep in mind that if the meat is injected it can't be treated as intact whole muscle meat, so getting the internals up to safe temps within 4 hours will remain a priority, and on larger birds, low and slow may not get temps up in a reasonable amount of time. I would have to suggest a smoke chamber/grate temp in the 275-300* range as a precaution.

    The first turkey I smoked was a 14 pounder in my small GOSM about 5 or 6 years ago...before I really knew what I was doing...temps weren't a concern to me, then. I smoked in 220-230* range...I didn't know any better...I won't do it again, though. As luck would have it, none us who ate from that bird got sick. Now, I won't smoke anything of larger size without monitoring internals if it's injected.

  14. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I checked last night when I was picking up my birds and I can't find any birds that aren't injected at the factory. I could get some if I went to the local Amish community but I would have to pay more. Kind of hard to pass up $.58 lb on turkey. Sounds like I have around 10 birds to make now. I was hoping for 3-5 but I guess word spreads and more and more people want one. Oh well I have lots of room in my smoke shack and its not like this is my first turkey smoke so I feel confident I can pull it off without any issues. But I did stress that they must bring smaller birds (15 lbs is the biggest) so that I don't have to worry about the danger zone so much. I usually smoke my turkeys at a little higher temp as well like others suggested.
  15. arnie

    arnie Smoking Fanatic

    If you keep doing what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

    If you like what you’ve always liked keep on keeping on!

  16. fatboyz

    fatboyz Fire Starter

    hmmm, did I miss it? I am doing my first smoked turkey this year, what is the recommended cooking temp and what internal temp should I be looking for? How long per pound should I plan for?
  17. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hmm, old thread, but, no, I don't think you missed anything...I'm thinking we just didn't discuss it here. I checked and noticed you hadn't asked elsewhere here, so, let me start with some basics and insight from previous experience.

    I've never really tried to get an accurate time on one, but then, I've cooked birds on just about every outdoor cooker I have that will hold one (I experiment a lot). Every cooker and method will produce different results, as the convection efficiency will vary depending on flow through the cooking chamber and many other factors. The type of cooker (horizontal/vertical) and mods or internal configurations, heat source, intake sizes, draft settings as well as exhaust sizes and settings, actual heat output, ambient temps, cooker exposure to wind and/or precipitation, etc, all effect cooking times due to variances in cooking grate/chamber temperature and convection efficiency.

    Depending on the size of bird, I would recommend a minimum chamber temp of 275*, and up to 325* for larger birds. The bigger birds are risky in smokers (if the typical processing is used: injected with broth) due to not being intact whole muscle where the 40-140*/4hr guideline should be adhered to, and higher chamber temps will be needed to safely pass through the danger-zone. If your smoker can achieve and maintain those higher chamber temps, then you can still smoke them...I've successfully smoked over 20lb birds with a propane fired smoker.

    Minimum safe internal temperature for USDA inspected poultry is 165*F, but I take that a bit further and shoot for around 172-175* in the dark meat and 170-172* in the white meat. Reason being the pink to red you will likely encounter near the bones, especially the thighs and legs. Areas near the bones don't seem to cook through as well as it does further from the bones. Temp readings near the bones can be deceiving at times, so watch for that. If you stay under 180* IT it should yield a juicy bird, regardless of methods/cookers used.

    Higher chamber temps will yield a more crisp skin, if you're looking for that in specific. Also, do not use water in a pan in the cooking chamber (as most vertical smokers have...I use a thermal mass such as washed pea-gravel or sand), as water adds humidity (and reduces thermal efficiency, as water vapor cools it's environment). High humidity is good for improved smoke adhesion to the food (more smoke flavor), but bad for crispness. Some precooking treatments will help as well, such as allowing the skin to dry while the bird is elevated on a rack (uncovered) in the fridge (post-seasoned). Some say they dry their birds overnight. I've never tried that method, but have gone somewhat the opposite direction by patting the bird dry and rubbing with butter, olive oil or some other fat, then applied my dry rub, and went straight to the smoker. You definitely need higher chamber temps for a crisp skin, at least towards the last ~45 minutes, when rubbing it down with added fats.

    Just remember, the bigger the bird the higher the chamber temp you should run, so a smaller turkey (under 14lb) would be best unless you're burning propane (most gassers will jam 350-450*F, or get a hot fire stoked-up). The smaller turkeys are not easy to find in many supermarkets, in my experience.

    For baseline cooking time with 300* chamber temp and 170* IT, plan for 15-20 min/lb for a highly efficient cooker...again, depending of tons of variables, but check it a bit earlier so you don't overcook it and end up with a Griswold turkey...LOL!!! If temps are well below the desired IT, then it may need another couple of hours. I've had some birds take over 45min/lb pound in the 275* range of chamber temps, so 300* could easily break the 30-min mark. Once you get your first under your belt you will have a much better idea what to expect from your particular cooker. Keep notes on everything you do for a starting guide the next time around...not like I usually do, trying to rely on memory alone...[​IMG]...I guess that's part of why I used to post most of my cooks here years ago...then, I had it documented.

    Oh, if you stuff the bird you obviously need even more time, and possibly higher chamber temps.

    Lastly, don't forget to verify your thermometer readings before you start the smoke...especially the meat thermometer.

  18. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I have not brined for a long time ! Reason being , (IMHO) , is that it should take a heavier amt. of Salt to cause the Osmosis to occur , making the Bird somewhat too Salty . I reccomend Injucting to get more flavor . The liquid being injected in several pla es to disperse the flavor . However , in my past injections , I found the flavor was concentrated in spots in the meat . Something I don'tcare for , I like a consistent flavor throughout every bite !Again , this is MHO .:biggrin

    Have fun on your Thanksbgiving cook , however you prepare you Bird . Enjoy the day and . . .
  19. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I gotta agree with ya, brother. I can't remember the last time I injected or brined a bird. Salt is always an issue with brine, and the ruptures created in the muscles where all the injected solution went becomes unappealing, at least to me. You have a high load of flavor there, and the texture can sometimes be a bit of an unpleasant surprise. I know it's been a lot longer since I injected than brined, and I do like the brine method much better, but don't like the salt that comes with it.

    I came to the realization a few years ago, that gravies and sauces are our friends, and they're just way too easy to make to not try it. You can season to your liking with whatever you choose, and, reduce/omit the salt if you like, and that alone is worth the little bit of extra effort, IMHO.