smoking turkey

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by smokedad, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    With Thanksgiving coming up fairly soon, I am going to do a practice smoke run with a 10 - 12 lb turkey.  I plan on brining it overnight .  If you brine a turkey this size, is it necessary to inject it to keep it moist?

    I plan on using apple wood for the smoke.  Does turkey, or poultry in general, need more or less smoke for flavor than other meats?  I also have oak and pecan wood available to use - are either of these or a combination better than apple for turkey?

    I have a Weber 22" grill I am going to use with charcoal and indirect heat.  I have read that turkey needs to be smoked at higher temps like 300 deg or so.  Is that only for larger birds, or any size?  I haven't smoked anything on the Weber with temps that high yet, so I don't know for sure what all is involved with keeping the cooking temp up besides more charcoal. 

    I do want to say how much I enjoy this forum and am very impressed with how helpful everyone is with suggestions, recipes, etc.  it has been a great help to this newbie.
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Good plan to do a test run.

    No need to inject or brine to keep a bird moist.  A properly cooked bird will be moist. The key is to not overcook. Make sure you  have a way to check the internal temp of the thigh or breast. Pull the bird when the IT reaches 165°.

    I you want to brine or inject to enhance the flavor make sure you get an all natural bird, that has not been enhanced (injected with brine solution) already.

    Poultry is milder meat and takes less smoke to get good flavor. All of the fruit woods and nut woods are good choices.

    Higher temp cooks will get you either bite through or crisp skin. If you are using a Weber you should have no problem maintaining pit temps between 300°-350°.

    Air drying the bird overnight will help with the skin. place the bird uncovered on a rack over a pan and place in the fridge the night before you cook it. This will dry out the skin and allow it to crisp up.

    Some other thing to look into are spatchcocking and dry brine methods.
    itsnotmeitsyou likes this.
  3. uzikaduzi

    uzikaduzi Meat Mopper

    i agree with dirtsailor... i have brined and not brined. i prefer not brined (or injected). i have not tried it with pop's brine which looks pretty good but it's a whole different cooking strategy closer to sausage making. (according to pop's method that looks amazing)

    i like to put a mixture of sage, salt, pepper and garlic rubbed between the skin and the meat with either olive oil (i have done butter and the skin was not as bite through... maybe it was the water content in the butter?) spitchcock it and cook at the same temps dirtsailor suggests too... it is so much quicker too, last thanksgiving was like 90 minutes total.
  4. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    I brine my turkeys, too, usually for 2 days.  I don't inject but make sure you wash it thoroughly.  I like apple and hickory and I do mine at 225-230ish range.  For a 10-12 pound bird, you're looking at about 8 hours.

    Here's a pic with my dad.

    Bacon Wrapped.  I thought it would infuse some bacon flavor.  It didn't.  But it was the MOISTEST bird I've ever smoked.

  5. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    I know if you spatchcock a turkey it probably doesn't look quite as nice on the table as a whole one, but would that alone speed up the process, besides the higher cooking temps?   
  6. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Nothing like sausage making.  Brine/cure the bird (injected with the brine/cure solution) for 3-5 days, rinse, put it in a sock, hang in the smoker at 240° until done.

    Both were done with nothing more than Pop's brine, good temp, and smoke...
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
    itsnotmeitsyou likes this.
  7. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    A spatched bird can look great on the table

  8. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Case, those shots are amazing!  Nice work!
  9. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Wish they were mine! Honestly our bird never even makes it to the table whole! We're a dish up and then sit down group!
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  10. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    [​IMG]   I understand that one!
  11. uzikaduzi

    uzikaduzi Meat Mopper

    yours looks great CrankyBuzzard i am trying to find it and failing...  i certainly wasn't very specific with what i was talking about and apologize... there was a thread where pops brined one in his brine and smoked it starting low like 100-120 and stepped it up like you do with sausage 10 * and hour till get got to ~160 IT and served it cold for a picnic the next day... that looked really appealing to me and reminded me of sausage in the way he smoked it.

    edit: i must have completely made that whole thing up in my mind because here is the thread i was thinking of... and he doesn't get into temps at all

    looks really similar to your process too Cranky
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  12. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    We all begin losing our minds after a few years of breathing hardwood smoke!  My process looks like his because I blatantly plagiarized his method... [​IMG]
    uzikaduzi likes this.
  13. uzikaduzi

    uzikaduzi Meat Mopper

    if its a good method, its reasonable to assume through trial and error, you both could have came to the same conclusion lol.

    i have 1 handed down family recipe meat wise for Polish sausage... i was really proud of it, until i read about Poland and realized that during the soviet years, cured meat processes were standardized and they came up with strict definitions of what each product would contain and how much of it... my "family's" recipe is that exact standardization lol... i'm sure 99% of my reciepes are a combination of stuff I've seen here or on amazingribs and just some slight actual input from myself from messing things up lol
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  14. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    Thanks, dirtsailor, for correcting me on the looks of a spatchcocked turkey on the table.  those are beautiful pictures.

    when you spatchcock a bird, does it speed up the cooking time since it is more flat on the smoker?
  15. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yes spatching the bird saves time. It also allows the bird to cook evenly so the thighs and the breast finish at about the same time.
  16. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    I got a 10 1/2 pound turkey to do a practice run for Thanksgiving.  It was only after I got home that I noticed it had been injected with a brine solution - I forgot about looking for a natural bird without the solution.  Will this affect how I prepare the turkey for smoking?  I probably won't brine it now, but is it still OK to inject some flavoring, if I decide to do that, if it has the solution in it already?  

    If it makes a difference, I plan on doing the smoke on a Weber kettle with charcoal and apple wood.
  17. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Since it's already injected I would just use a rub on the bird.
  18. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    Thanks, Dirtsailor, for your quick reply.  Will the rub affect the taste of the meat in a negative way since it is already injected? 

    Is it better to put the rub on the skin or under the skin?  I have seen where people do it both ways. 
  19. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You certainly can inject an enhanced bird. Just watch the salt content. As for rub affecting the flavor, most enhanced birds are only injected with salt water, so no, the flavors in your rub won't clash. If you put the rub under the skin it'll have more contact with the meat so will impart more flavor.
  20. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    Do I need to watch the salt content of the rub as well? 

    How much does putting rub or fruit/veggies inside the cavity of the bird affect the flavor? 

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