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Thanksgiving 2013 - DRAMA ALERT!!! Whole Fresh Amish Turkey and Assorted Turkey Thighs and Legs

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by piaconis, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Greetings all!

    So I've been a little light on the smoker use through the late summer and fall, due to some health issues my wife has been having.  However, we aren't traveling to see the in-laws in Connecticut this year, so we decided to hose a Thanksgiving gathering of our own this year.  We decided on a 14lb fresh turkey from the meat market she works at, and we're pretty excited.  I did a test run on the smoker to make sure I could hit the required heat levels, and you can see the results of that test run here at http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/152990/cold-weather-test-run-turkey-parts.  So, we're ready to rock 'n' roll!

    Here's the plan:
    Tuesday 11/26  
    Prepare turkey brine7:45 AM
    Chill brine8:15 AM
    Pickup donuts (cook fuel)8:30 AM
    Pickup charcoal (smoker fuel)8:45 AM
    Pickup turkey9:00 AM
    Rinse turkey9:30 AM
    Add turkey to turkey brine9:45 AM
    Pickup legs and thighs11:30 AM
    Wednesday 11/27  
    Prepare parts brine7:00 AM
    Chill parts brine7:30 AM
    Remove turkey and rinse7:45 AM
    Towel dry turkey7:50 AM
    Turkey to fridge for air dry7:55 AM
    Rinse parts9:00 AM
    Add parts to parts brine9:10 AM
    Remove parts and rinse9:05 PM
    Towel dry parts9:10 PM
    Parts to fridge for air dry9:15 PM
    Thursday 11/28  
    Start chimney lighter7:00 AM
    Load fuel to smoke box7:10 AM
    Coffee, coffee, coffee7:15 AM
    Dump chimney into fire box7:20 AM
    Remove turkey7:30 AM
    Towel dry turkey again7:35 AM
    Oil and rub turkey7:40 AM
    Turkey to smoker7:45 AM
    Remove parts11:00 AM
    Towel dry parts again11:05 AM
    Oil and rub parts11:10 AM
    Parts to smoker11:15 AM
    Remove turkey to tray12:30 PM
    Foil tent turkey and rest12:35 PM
    Dampen smoker air flow12:40 PM
    Remove parts to tray12:45 PM
    Foil tent parts and rest12:50 PM
    Carve turkey1:00 PM
    Serve turkey and parts1:15 PM
    Add wood chips for cheese2:00 PM
    Remove cheese to trays2:05 PM
    Cheese to smoker2:10 PM
    Remove cheese4:10 PM
    Vacuum seal cheese4:25 PM
    Blast chill cheese4:30 PM
    Distribute cheese to guests4:45 PM

    More to come!!!!
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  2. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Stay tuned!

    So here comes the first update.  I started the brine using Chef Jimmy's brine as a base recipe, and throwing a couple of my own twists in.  Here's the modified recipe:

    1/2C Coarse Sea Salt

    2T Paprika

    2T Gran. Garlic

    2T Onion Powder

    2T Dry Thyme

    2T Black Pepper

    1C Apple Cider Vinegar

    2C Apple Cider

    1t Tabasco

    1-1/2 Gal Cold Water

    6 Leaves Pineapple Sage (fresh from my now indoor herb garden)

    Some Q-view so far (or technically off-Q view, seeing as how the fire doesn't start until Thursday, but I digress...)

    Simmered the brine to marry the components, then chilled with ice.  You can see the pineapple sage leaves floating on the top

    Got to Duma Meats in Mogadore at 9:00AM sharp, and there were already people in line ahead of me. Hey, just because my wife works there, doesn't mean I get special treatment!  Just heard from my wife that it's absolutely crazy now.

    Turkey takes a dunk in the brine. Threw some clear plastic wrap on the edges to help the lid seal so I don't splash any out while I move it.

    Nestled in the new fridge, ready for the "power cool" cycle. To the left, you can see stacks of cheese I plan to smoke after the turkey and requisite smoker cool down.  Also, there have been comments and speculation that I purchased the new fridge just to have more room to store pre-smoked and smoked meats and cheeses.  I will neither confirm, nor deny those statements. [​IMG]

    Just got back from the poultry market with the turkey pieces
  3. Nice, what a plan, down to the minute.  I'm not that disciplined, more power to you.  I'm in for the updates!
  4. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    They're obviously all approximations, but a good gauge if I start falling behind.  With so many moving pieces to Thanksgiving dinner, it helps to at least have a barometer.
  5. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    All that coffee, he might have forgotten to add something in his itinerary ........
  6. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    OK, so time for some updates...

    Removed the bird from the brine. I set it on my beer can chicken stand to hold it upright so it can air dry in the fridge another 24 hours. It's a nice looking bird.

    Into the empty stock pot and back into the fridge. If it still had a head, it would be peeking out.

    Meanwhile, brine batch #2 is chilling in the fridge, getting ready for turkey parts.

    Stay tuned for more!
  7. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    And now, the attention turns to the parts...

    Did a quick rinse of the assorted parts

    Placed the parts into the brine, with a little ice to help it return to safe temperatures after rinsing

    Back into the fridge

    That does it until later tonight!
  8. I'm not sure which is more impressive, your beautiful food, or your precision schedule and masterful organization!

    Wow have you folks just got it together! Terrific post!

    Have a wonderful holiday and here's to great health things improving too!!!! Cheers! - Leah
  9. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thanks Leah!

    So, the fun continued.  I decided to leave the parts in the brine for another hour, just to give a little more time for all of those flavors to circulate.  I also decided to do a fresh batch of rub, since I was running low.

    Rinsed off and in the process of being dried

    Back into the fridge for some cool dry time

    Made myself some fresh Bubba Chix rub (Chef Jimmy's recipe)

    Finished two days worth of tasks. The big one awaits!

    Well, that's it for Wednesday.  See you all tomorrow, and best of luck to everyone doing a smoke of their own!
  10. Well that just continues to sound magnificent! happy holiday (officially) and happy feasting!!! Beautiful stuff! Cheers! - Leah
  11. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm impressed.  I do a time line in my head and have yet to keep with it, something always goes wrong or comes up. Perfect example I was going to start smoking turkeys mid AM yesterday 11/27, didn't get started till 2 PM due to a snfu. This link explains what went on http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/153165/back-to-making-tbs-and-smoky-goodness  . Going to be a LONG day tomorrow I may be able to grab a couple hours shut eye around 6 AM if I'm lucky.
  12. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thanks folks.  Here's the morning update...

    This is the Thanksgiving morning scene, after two days of snow.

    Chimney started

    The bird. Yep, still dead.

    Rubbing on some olive oil

    And applying the rub

    I loosely packed the cavity with apple slices, two sprigs of rosemary, and a sprig of sage. I like using fresh aromatics in the bird.

    On my Weber rib/roast rack and ready to hit the smoker


    More to come!
  13. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Oh no!!!  I checked in on the turkey a little over an hour in, and found the front end of the bird (facing the firebox) got blasted by heat.  Apparently, my carefully placed baffle plate slipped, leaving the turkey to get blasted by radiant heat.  Though I don't mind a little char here and there, I probed the meat to find it was also cooking that end WAY faster than parts of the breast, and was a full 20 degrees ahead of the thighs.  My answer to the problem was similar to my reaction....

    I flipped the bird.

    I removed the roast tray and flipped it over.  It's an EXTREMELY risky move, and may have dire consequences.  I'm also in a full-on heat retreat, as I have pulled back to a safe 250 degrees to prevent this from becoming a Thanksgiving turkey BRUNCH.  Crispy skin is an afterthought now, as the crispness of the front resembles a grand piano finish.  I'll pump the heat back up for the parts.

    Now I know what you're all thinking.  I just violated the cardinal rule of smoking...I was fooling around the smoker mid-smoke.  However, it's my belief that the benefit of attempting to restore temperate balance to the bird outweighed the risks.  Will my move reflect the wisdom of a seasoned veteran, or will my toying with the smoke turn out to be a rookie mistake?  Stay tuned...
  14. disco

    disco Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks to me like you are going to have a meal to be thankful for and that is on top of a having a wife who works in a meat store!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member


    Turkey is righted again.  Temps leveled out, and I continued my plan.

    Oiled and rubbed the parts

    And they're on. You can see the "blackened" turkey in the background. I threw some foil over the charred skin to block it from further assault.

    Getting close to done
  16. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Well, it was a successful smoke, but a photo fail.  I missed the final pic of the bird as I had hungry guests in front of me.  So, here are some pics from along the way..

    Parts are looking good, main bird is resting

    Check out the smoke penetration on the carved breast

    Finished parts, along with the carved parts from the main turkey.  Everything was done right on time.

    Well, I missed a whole-bird pic, but you can see the carcass and the smoke penetration

    My plate, with all the fixins

    Cheese is on...early Christmas present for my guests

    Finished product, being vac sealed and sent home with guests

    Thanks for following my Thanksgiving!  Hope you enjoyed yours as well!
  17. Well that all looks like a perfectly beautiful holiday!!! Thank you for sharing! Cheers! - Leah
  18. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Dang nab it  great detailed post and great pics, Looks like you had a great turkey day.