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Somked Turkey Questions for Thanksgiving.

Wasi

Smoke Blower
82
83
Joined Oct 23, 2017
First off I wanted to say thank you to everyone who helps answer and post information about smoking. I have learned so much just reading on this site then I could ever imagine. I am hosting Thanksgiving for the first time and since the turkey is the main course I want to get it right. I would just like to review my plan to make sure I have everything correct for the big day.

1. I am getting a 10-12LBS fresh turkey which will be picked up on Tuesday. As soon as I get it home it will be it the brine I am making in the morning. Let the turkey brine for 24 hours.
2. Wednesday I will take it out of the brine rinse and pat dry and then back in the fridge to help dry it completely.
3. Thursday morning take out the bird and season it with my rub. (Was thinking about also adding butter + rub paste under the skin).
4. Start smoking bird at 275 for 2 hours and then kick the temp up to 350 to finish and crisp up the skin.

I was going to use my beer can chicken holder to keep the bird off the grates directly. Do I also need to baste it every so often to make sure the skin is crisp. Every time I try poultry no matter how hot I cook it the skin is not crisp.

Thanks again for any assistance you can provide.
 

TuckersBarbeque

Smoke Blower
SMF Premier Member
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Joined Oct 29, 2020
Everything sounds great. The only difference, I would actually recommend spatchcocking the turkey and putting directly on the grates. It allows it to cook faster. You can actually cook a 14 lb bird in about 2 hours by spatchcocking...

Also, if you are looking for excellent crispy skin; First pat the turkey as dry as possible, then mix about 1 tablespoon of baking powder (aluminum free) and 1 teaspoon of table salt. Then apply to the skin a few hours before going into the smoker. You should have significantly crisper skin. I do it on my chicken wings too.

I wouldn't baste it... that's how you keep your skin soggy, unless most of the baste is butter or oil...
my two cents though.
 

Wasi

Smoke Blower
82
83
Joined Oct 23, 2017
Everything sounds great. The only difference, I would actually recommend spatchcocking the turkey and putting directly on the grates. It allows it to cook faster. You can actually cook a 14 lb bird in about 2 hours by spatchcocking...

Also, if you are looking for excellent crispy skin; First pat the turkey as dry as possible, then mix about 1 tablespoon of baking powder (aluminum free) and 1 teaspoon of table salt. Then apply to the skin a few hours before going into the smoker. You should have significantly crisper skin. I do it on my chicken wings too.

I wouldn't baste it... that's how you keep your skin soggy, unless most of the baste is butter or oil...
my two cents though.
Thanks for the response. Never hear of the basking powder trick and going to do that for sure.
 

HalfSmoked

Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
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Joined Jun 11, 2015
Sounds good. But not sure how long you have planned for the turkey to cook. You will most likely find it will take longer than you planned.

Warren
 

Wasi

Smoke Blower
82
83
Joined Oct 23, 2017
Sounds good. But not sure how long you have planned for the turkey to cook. You will most likely find it will take longer than you planned.

Warren
I had it planed for about 5 hours. I was going to put it on around 9 am and go from there. If it gets done early I was going to toss it in the cooler to stay warm.
 

tallbm

Master of the Pit
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Joined Dec 30, 2016
TuckersBarbeque TuckersBarbeque nailed it for you.

Definitely brine (injection is good too).
Don't baste, you have brined it there is no need to baste and you would just be reintroducing water to the skin to rehydrate it rather than crisp it up.
Also don't cover it or put it in a bag, the steam basically keeps water in the skin. I've had hot crispy turkeys that had to travel one hour to the dining location and once covered in foil and traveling for an hour the skin rehydrated from the steam and humidity and that makes it WANT to be tougher. IT was still bite through skin but nothing like when the turkey was done and uncovered.

I don't ever do the extra drying, baking powder, etc. I just smoke at 325F the whole time and a 20 pound bird is done in just under 4 hours.
I put mine in a vertical beer can-like rack that I sit in a foil pan. Regular chicken beer can racks are too small so I have a big one just for turkeys:
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I read somewhere a long while back that a vertical bird's skin behaves much better because the air/heat rises up and around the turkey hitting the breast, thigh, and back skin better as the heat rises. Where a turkey that lays down doesn't get as much air/heat kissing the skin on the bird that is facing up.

I have noticed a difference so I concur with the idea that a vertical bird's skin does better than one that is laying down.
NOW this is talking about whole birds vertical vs horizontal and does not even consider spatchcocked birds. I feel like a spatchcocked or halved bird plays by different rules.

I ho this info helps :)
 

jjlnyc

Fire Starter
50
14
Joined Nov 23, 2015
Loving all the feedback here! Only thing that I would add is not to brine the 10-12lb bird for 24 hours. Too long a brine will turn the meat spongy/mushy in my experience. Even a 16lb bird I find 18 hours is about the max, and for a 10-12 I would keep it to 12 hours at the most
 

Wasi

Smoke Blower
82
83
Joined Oct 23, 2017
TuckersBarbeque TuckersBarbeque nailed it for you.

Definitely brine (injection is good too).
Don't baste, you have brined it there is no need to baste and you would just be reintroducing water to the skin to rehydrate it rather than crisp it up.
Also don't cover it or put it in a bag, the steam basically keeps water in the skin. I've had hot crispy turkeys that had to travel one hour to the dining location and once covered in foil and traveling for an hour the skin rehydrated from the steam and humidity and that makes it WANT to be tougher. IT was still bite through skin but nothing like when the turkey was done and uncovered.

I don't ever do the extra drying, baking powder, etc. I just smoke at 325F the whole time and a 20 pound bird is done in just under 4 hours.
I put mine in a vertical beer can-like rack that I sit in a foil pan. Regular chicken beer can racks are too small so I have a big one just for turkeys:
amazon" style="max-width:120px">
I read somewhere a long while back that a vertical bird's skin behaves much better because the air/heat rises up and around the turkey hitting the breast, thigh, and back skin better as the heat rises. Where a turkey that lays down doesn't get as much air/heat kissing the skin on the bird that is facing up.

I have noticed a difference so I concur with the idea that a vertical bird's skin does better than one that is laying down.
NOW this is talking about whole birds vertical vs horizontal and does not even consider spatchcocked birds. I feel like a spatchcocked or halved bird plays by different rules.

I ho this info helps :)
Yes all the info does help. I ended up ordering one of these for the bird.

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Wasi

Smoke Blower
82
83
Joined Oct 23, 2017
Loving all the feedback here! Only thing that I would add is not to brine the 10-12lb bird for 24 hours. Too long a brine will turn the meat spongy/mushy in my experience. Even a 16lb bird I find 18 hours is about the max, and for a 10-12 I would keep it to 12 hours at the most
Thanks. My plan was to do it over night and take it out first thing in the morning to add the salt/baking powder and just let it dry for the whole day.
 

jjlnyc

Fire Starter
50
14
Joined Nov 23, 2015
Thanks for the info. I was going to do it over night but will keep that in mind.
Overnight is fine if you take it out in the morning :emoji_slight_smile:
And fwiw, I have never noticed a difference by letting air-dry an additional day. Patting dry in and out has always proven sufficient, esp for a smaller bird. Think about it - you just spent hours getting the bird moist - why let that moisture dry out!? :emoji_grin:
 

schlotz

Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
1,105
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Joined Jan 13, 2015
If there is a concern about the end result being moist with crisp skin there is an alternative that works every time. Use a grill with a rotisserie and a smoker tube. The roto does a superb job of basting a bird that yields very moist results. Combine it with a smoker tube full of pellets and you get the best of both. Been doing this for the last 10 years.
 

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