Time Will Tell When It Comes to Turkey Breasts

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by smokininthewind, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. Hi all. Still a newbie here in Wyoming. Today, I used my MES to smoke my first turkey breast. Since it was already injected with basting stuff I chose not to brine it, figuring it already had enough salt. Just a bit of rub, and pepper, I set the MES to an effective temp of 225*, got 'er smoking with mesquite, popped in the 6+ pound breast with a tray-full of water, and off she went.

    Now, I'd already read the link at this forum for smoked turkey and knew I was well under the 12-pound suggested max for whole turkey. That link said figure 6.5 hours for 12 pounds.

    Well, I'm sure glad I started this morning at 10:30. Because that thing took a full 7.5 hours to reach 168! Can someone tell me why so long? I set the MES to 231* based on the oven shelf thermometer reading of 225* at that setting.

    It came out terrific after all those hours, with a telltale pink ring and moist, flavorful meat (see pic). Should I leave well enough alone or continue to wonder why it took so dang long for such a little hunk o' meat?
  2. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well it looks juicy. Did you have a remote thermomter in it to check internals?

    That does seem a bit long. I dont have an answer, sorry. I haven't done one yet, they aren't afforadable here.
  3. Yup, I had a remote digital thermometer and probe inserted in the thick part of the breast, not touching bone.
  4. ron50

    ron50 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well you don't say how much it weighe other then it was way under 12 lbs.

    This is from the link you referred to

    "By the way... smoking turkey takes about 30-40 minutes per pound. using this calculation you can estimate what time you need to start in order for it to be done with the rest of the food. "

    So it is saying a 12 lb bird is estimated to take 6 - 8 hours.

    The key word is estimated. Every chunk of meat, bird, whatever is different and you never can tell how long. It is just a guess.

    That's why we cook to temperature not to time, which is what you did and you were rewarded with a moist and flavorful bird!
  5. seboke

    seboke Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You were only one hour off the "guideline" time and ya cranked out an awesome product. Count that as a success, I DO! Remember, it's a guideline not a smokin law!
  6. bbqgoddess

    bbqgoddess Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sir Seboke is right!
    It looks really yummy, some days it goes a lot longer than that on a smoke...some days it is finshed sooner...only the smoke gods know! "cook to temp not to time" your new mantra!
  7. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    It looks great and guess what the next turkey breast you do even if the exact weight will finish at a different time. No two pieces of meat are the same and thats why we go by temp and not time. Just wait till you start doing those butts and briskets and hit a 3-5 hour plateaus or longer those really mess up the 1.5 hours per pound they estimate the smoke taking. I've had butts on that weigh within a half pound of each other finish five to six hours apart while sitting next to each other on the same rack in the smoker.

    Congrats on a great looking smoke [​IMG]
  8. richoso1

    richoso1 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Is that digi calibrated?
  9. Hey, thanks all for the encouragement, suggestions and questions.

    The turkey breast weighed around 6.5 pounds.

    As far as calibration, the digital thermometer probe I use is pretty close. I've tested it in ice water and it reads 32. In boiling water, it reads low at around 204, but I live at 6200 feet elevation. I've seen equations for calculating boiling points at different elevations, but gave up, thinking, "Close enough!" When I stop cooking poultry at a digital probe reading of 168, I'm thinking it's really 170. The meat is never dried out or undercooked, so it should be about right.

    My mantra is now, cook by temperature not by time.
    My other mantra is, never invite guests over for dinner before midnight! [​IMG]

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