18 pound turkey too big?

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by bobbygee, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. bobbygee

    bobbygee Smoke Blower

     I already bought the turkey (onsale .37 pound) with the idea of seperating the legs and thighs and placing them on a differnt rack.But thought... Instead of using a smoking temp of 225 crank up the heat to 275.  Any thought?AA  ARe     I understand the logic that you dont want the bird in the danger zone for too long,hence every where I look, I see recomendations of using a 12 pound and below turkey.Obviously the bird will get less smoking time,but I think Jeffs newsletter last year mentioned as long as it gets 4 hours of smoke all should be well.Any thoughts?
  2. richoso1

    richoso1 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That's a really big bird to get up to a safe temp within the initial 4 hours. I don't know what type of smoker you have, but I would consider a smoking temp of 350° or at least 300°. I would still consider cutting up the parts. Good luck my friend. 
  3. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    OK, a couple things here:

    1) if the meat is not injected, deboned or basically tampered with internally, then it can be treated as intact while muscle meat meat;

    2) for intact whole muscle meats, the outer 1/2" of the meat needs to pass through the 40-140* range in 4 hours or less. This happenes in a lot less time than 4 hours with 225* chamber temps. EDIT: this is a new/recently released guideline.

    3) Since the we're talking about birds, the cavity of the bird must be left as is, unstuffed and not injected as well, in order to reasonably assure that the first 1/2" of meat inside the cavity will pass through the same temp/time range.

    4) If you inject or puncture the meat in any way, the intact whole muscle meat guideline cannot be used (internal temp time of 40-140*/4 hrs will be the rule).

    So, the question you need to abswer is, will the bird be left intact, or will it be injected?

    If injected, than a very high chamber temp would be in order, well above 300* for a bird of that weight, IMO.


    EDIT (again): I should have went hunting for this link first, but it took a few minutes to find it. This is a discussion from a pro food handler, bbally..post #2 is where you need to go, in specific:

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  4. bobbygee

    bobbygee Smoke Blower

    Thanx gents.. I have a 40" MES  that has a top temp of 275.I was not planning on injecting.Just brinning, then rub with olive oil than some of my magic rub. I'll probably just seperate the legs and thighs into quarters as intended and use a chamber temp of 250. The presentaion wont be as good but better safe than sorry.
  5. bobbygee

    bobbygee Smoke Blower

    Thanx Eric, I just read that food safety link..I had no idea that you are not suppose to insert the internal temp probe too early..Very good to know.I've been inserting the probe as soon as I put the meat in the oven.
  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You're most welcome...very good point to remember about probing too early, also. I fail to mention that quite often, I guess because I just make it habit to wait several hours on larger meats.

    Also, since we're talkin' turkey, I like to begin my thaw several days in advance in the fridge. I put the bird into a pan large enough to contain/catch any drippings from the bird, and keep it high in the fridge to take the chill out from the freezer temps. Then, about 3-4 hours before it's time to prep, I'll submerge it in cold water to finish thawing.

    I know most recommendations are to keep raw meats in the bottom of your fridge, especially poulty, but the lower compartments are typically the coldest, which does not promote thawing as well as the higher shelves. If the pan is sufficient in size to catch drippings in the event that the package does have a hole, you shouldn't have any worries about cross-contamination.

    Just a reminder there.

    Have a great smoked TGD dinner!

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  7. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    If you've got that big of a bird how about spatchcocking it? Personally I'd spatchcock it and smoke it at 275 you'll get better skin on it with the higher temp
  8. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    That may or may not be a good thing as once you make that 1st cut ,It is no longer whole muscle . Now you have to get it all above 140° in the 4 hour time frame. This still may be tough to do on the body of the bird cooking at 250°.
  9. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    One thing you should take into consideration is a lot (just about all birds around here) of birds come pre-injected with a brine solution from the factory. If it is a pre-injected bird you are going to have to treat it as a punctured bird and you would need to take it  from 40-140 in the four hours. I can't find a bird that isn't injected at the factory unless I go to  the local Amish community where they raise their own.
  10. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That would be a good idea for a Smoke Vault 24 or similar sized vertical, but in the MES, I doubt he'd have the grate space for it. I fit a whole 14lbr into my small GOSM years ago, and that was a tightly crowded grate...less than an inch away from the cabinet on all three sides, and door. Quartering it up would fit on multiple grates, though.

    Cutting it open and keeping that way won't chenge the whole muc=scle rule at all. Consider the pork butts, chuck roasts, briskets, etc. They had to get cur to be removed from the carcass, but are still in the same state when we bring them home from the store. Once the tissue is exposed, if it stays exposed during cooking, the rule remains the same. If you debone and re-close a roast (or inject), that puts you back into the non-whole muscle meat guidelines.

    You hit that nail dead-center...we were just discussing this very thing last week, and I must have suffered some brain damage from staying up all night Saturday or I would have rememberd to mention that. [​IMG]

    Hey, BobbyGee, hope you're catching all this...I'll drop him a quick PM just in case.

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  11. I like higher temps on turks anyways, it gives your skin some crisp to it. The thing is and it is well documented that turkey does not benefit from the low and slow remember even at 275 that bird will be in your smoker for at least 7 to 8 hours, which IMO is more then enough time to get a good smoke flavor. Im going to be doing 2 12 pounders for thanksgiving and I will probably smoke them at 250 and expect them to be done in 6 hours. 

    Also brining is the way to go as it gives you much needed moisture in the bird that you will need during the smoking process. 

    Eric quick question for you

    Isn't all turkeys injected? They all come with that stupid pop up probe wouldn't that count as injected or tampered?
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  12. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Chances are pretty high with frozen birds that they are injected, and that will definity not be considered intact whole meat.

    Yeah, there a few brand's that don't stab 'em with that "OK, I'm OVER-COOKED now" waste of money into the bird. Probably depends where you're at, and I can't even rememvber where I've seen them around here...I know they're few and far between, though. Main thing is to read the label before you decide on which brand to buy. If it mentions anything about added water and other additives it should read "injected" somewhere along with that, if not, it may just have a brine in the package. I'll have to look next chance I get and see what's available now ion our area (my wife does most of the grocery gettin' 'round here), and maybe I can make heads or tails of which is which.

  13. Did a 22 lber. in my old GOSM last winter - I took our all the racks except for one, put a cookie sheet upright against the rear wall and stood the Turkey up on the rack and leaned it against the cookie sheet. I had preheated the GOSM and did the first hour at around 325 - then turned down to 275 for the rest of the cook. Bird turned out great and cooked completely.
  14. bobbygee

    bobbygee Smoke Blower

    Thanx for the info guys.I didn't have room in my freezer for 2-18# turkeys so they are in my neibors fridge and I cant go look. (Wifey, didnt trust me experimenting with the Thanksgiving turkey so she is roasting one in the oven,just to be safe).Anyway..I remember the packaging mentioning .08% solution something..so I'll assume pre-injected. Right now I'm thinking my best bet would be cut out the back bone,split the bird in 2 and place on 2 seperate racks.Should fit with no problem.So the next question..Skin up or down? Thanx for all the help..This forum is the shi....um I mean the greatest [​IMG]..
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  15. pit 4 brains

    pit 4 brains Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great post fellas! Had all the info I was looking for and a whole lot more. This should be a Thanksgiving sticky at least until after Christmas..
  16. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I've quarter a few birds and smoked 'em skin up. I think it helps them to self baste if the juices are allowed to seep down inside the skin towards the bottom. If it's skin down the juices would be trapped inside for longer before they start coming out from above. Sixes on that one, I think, but skin up with monitoring internals after a couple hours so it's not over-cooked works out fine for me.

    I think you'll have better chances for a crisp skin if the juices aren't trickling down over the skin, which skin up will do for you. Speaking of crispy skin, a light brushing with melted butter about half-way through the smoke will help quite a bit. If you do it too early it can hinder the smoke flavor a bit. Be gentle and your dry rub won't get knocked off in the process.

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  17. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

     Heck... have the butcher at the store cut it in half with the band saw... easy!
  18. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I'm with Jerry on this one and I think that you should spatchcock it and smoke it at a higher temp 275-300° or so and then you will be able to make the 40° to 140° in 4 hours to be safe with the bird thats that big.
  19. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    You can certainly just cut the backbone out and split the turkey in two and use two racks. I would place them skin side up and I would still smoke them at 275 or as hot as you can get the MES. Tho you could smoke them at 225 then either crisp the skin in the oven or a hot grill or just discard the skin if you can get away with it. My family would never allow me to not crisp the skin [​IMG]
  20. dowquest

    dowquest Fire Starter

    I know this is all relative to temps, But I got a 18 # turk as well, feeding a ton of fam. Certainly don't like the getting sick option, but if I don't like the idea of cutting up the bird either. If I started my smoke at ~300 for an hour or two, then backed it down to the 250 range where I'd like it, what rough time frame do think I'd be looking at. I did a 12# turk the other day at 250 for 7 hrs, and it came out perfect. I have plenty of room in the smoker, so that is not an issue.

    After Thinking about it, I bought 2 12# Turkeys.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010

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