When to brine a Turkey......

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Original poster
Jan 9, 2007
I've got a 18 lber from my FIL that he wants smoked. I know its larger than recommended but its what I have to work w/. That being said, the turkey is injected w/ a 9-1/2 percent solution.

My question, will the brine still have the same/any effect or is it a waste of time? Seems to me all frozen turkeys are injected w/ a certion percentage of "solution"

Also in regards to cooking time, being the bird is 18lb, I'm looking to smoke at @ 250* till its internal temp is 150 then turning up the heat to crisp up the skin to a final temp of 170*. I figure roughly 7-8 hrs, does that sound about right?
I remember a post from way back that said if a turkey comes already injected that brining wouldn't be that effective. I suppose if you wanted to brine it with different flavors/spices that would be beneficial...I think poultry you want to get up to 160 in the thigh...I'm not sure about time, I've never smoked an 18 pound turkey...There was also an interesting post last summer about someone who smoked the turkey for a while and then deep fried it to finish it. Sounded excellent.
I'm not sure about exact time, but I do know that larger birds don't take as much time per # as smaller birds. I also think that the reason larger birds aren't recommended for smoking is the potential for bacterial growth being as it takes so long to get them out of the "danger zone" temp range @250*. You know, the meat being thicker and all.

I have done a 18 lb bird but I cut my in half ( frozen ) to get it through the danger zone quicker and it took less time to smoke . I also brined and injected it before smoking it and it turned out excellent.
Bommer -

I did a 15 lb turkey superbowl Sunday I cut the back off and just set the bird breast meat up on the grate and it took 5 hours in mt ECB with the water bowl. I did one two weeks ago again about 15 lbs but whole and it took hours. Who eats the back anyway? LOL

Oh I also injected it with butter, garlic and canjun spice every 2 inches after a 1 day brine. I was great!
Being its a larger bird maybe I'll crank up the heat right out of the gate, say 275-285 to get it up to temp quicker, then back down to 230-240. At what temp would you feel safe lowering the temp, maybe 130-140? Whats the "danger zone" temp?????

Don't really think the FIL will like me hacking up HIS turkey.....

You would still suggest brine though????
50*f-140*f is the danger zone. and no, I would not feel safe @ 130-140. 150* would be a safe holding temp for a bird that has reached doneness(160*-175* depending on who you talk to).

IMHOlow and slo doesn't do that much for turkey. Turkey doesn't have excess fat that needs to render, nor does it have connective tissue that needs to be broken down. I don't do many turkeys, but if it were me, I'd do it @ 325* and tent the legs and breast w/ foil after it got a little smoke on it.

make it easy on yourself boomer, have your fil get a couple turkey breasts for the smoker and throw that big bird in the deep fryer (you do have a turkey fryer, dont you?) thats the only way my family will eat turkey anymore. breasts do nice on the smoker though...good luck
You can also completely debone a turkey or chicken and it will smoke faster. There is a name for this technique, but it escapes me now. Maybe someone else can jar my memory. Anyway, if done correctly, it's a beautiful presentation. Especially if stuffed. You can use this method and stuff by wrapping and tying the turkey around the stuffing. Then instead of digging the stuffing out of the bird, you simply serve slices. I know we don't stuff birds (in the normal manner) for smoking, but you can stuff them with anything, like ham, beef, and lamb.
on the big birds i will separate the legs and the wings from the rest then debone the breast in one peice if possible with as much skin as i can keep on it then throw it in the brine then lace it back up and smoke it that way did a 23# last christmas along with an 18# fried. good eatin there man.
What I know about spatchcocking (precious little), they leave the leg and wing bones in. All they do is cut out the ribs and backbone, and pull out the center of the breast bone.

What I want to learn how to do is take out all the bones like the cajuns do. I had a cajun tell me once that they took the bones out because they make good crawfish bait when they're raw, but not once they're cooked. That way they got two meals out of one.

The "spatchcocking" that I am familiar with is what I have read on this forum and it was always described as spliting the bird in half through the breast and cutting the backbone out while keeping both sides fastened together with skin and meat (at least thats what I thought it said). Never heard of it being done around here other than making TurdDucken. Go to the store and buy chicken necks if you are crawfishing. However, any excuse will do if you want to tell the wife that you need to stand in the back yard and drink beer and debone this turkey
then be my guest
Boomer, I apologize. I answered someone elses discussion without addressing your question

IMHO, I would not brine a turkey that is already injected with a 9 1/2 % solution unless I wanted to change the flavor.

As far as cooking goes, I have cooked turkeys that large in one piece before. I don't know what your smoker type is but put lots of heat 275 - 325 at the beginning with lots of light smoke. Light smoke meaning apple, cherry or something fruity. Get it up to temp quickly, but keep the fruity smoke going and it will come out fine. I have done this with hickory and it came out kind of strong, so watch out what type of wood u use.
All done.....

I did brine it for 36 hrs. Never knew what effect brine would have. Turned the dark meat to ham. Everyone loved it. The white meat was juicy and extremely flavorful....

I cooked it @ 280-300* till it came up to 150* then covered the breast and legs w/ foil and backed the temp down to 240* and finished it off. Whole cooking time was @ 6hrs......

I cooked it whole, used choke cherry chunks w/ apple chips and it was just the right combo.
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