1st Whole Turkey Smoke and Used Injected Marinade with QView!!!

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by tallbm, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    Ok quick description, qview and then write up.

    I did my 1st Whole Turkey today and it came out great!  This was an experiment in many ways and I will go into that in more detail but first QVIEW!!!!

    Lines on the skin of the 3rd pic are caused by the turkey leaning over on the rack as noticeable in the 1st pic 

    Deboned.  Green tinted juice/color is from the Jalapeno I add to the injectable marinade!!!!

    The quick facts:
    • Turkey Weight: 16 pounds
    • Smoker Temp:  hmmm did my best for 325F, will explain more further down
    • Total Cook Time: 3hrs 45min to an IT of 165F in the breast
    • Smoke Applied for:  3hrs 45 min, I applied double smoke by lighting 2 rows of my AMNPS
    • Wood Used for Smoke: Pit Boss Competition Blend pellets (approximately 50-60% Maple, 20-25% Cherry, 20-25% Hickory)
    • Seasoning/Brine/Marinade: Injected with a doctored up Tony Cachere's Creole Butter injectable marinade, seasoned outside with Tony Cacheres creole seasoning
    The Goal:

    Every year I do a deep fried turkey for either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I have a go-to injectable marinade I came up with a number of years ago and the deep fried turkey comes out amazing!

    My goal was to test and try and replicate a smoked Turkey version while also learning about smoking a whole turkey and how my setup would respond.

    The Prep:
    • I let the frozen turkey defrost in the fridge for 4 days in it's packaging and then unwrapped and let it defrost and have the skin dry up some in the fridge for the 5th day of defrosting.  I wanted the dried skin to help create/ensure edible skin
    • I prepared my injectible marinade which is peppery, savory, and a little sweet:
      • 1  Bottle of Tony Cachere's Creole Butter injectable marinade (17 floz)
      • 5 Large Jalapenos (green)
      • Approx. 8 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar (seems like a lot but the marinade is savory/salty so this much sugar is needed to impart some sweetness and help balance the peppers) - I will get an accurate measure of this the next time I make it
      • Put in a blender and put on liquify setting
      • Strain to separate liquid and pulp, leave liquid in a bowl for injecting
    • Inject the turkey all over but focus mostly on the breast
    • Setup Turkey to sit upright on my vertical roasting rack right before taking it out to place in smoker
    The Cook/Smoke:

    The cook was pretty straight forward.  Just go to 165F IT in the deep breast tissue and have the smoker at 325F.

    Well, I had some trouble with mysetup holding at 325F.  Thank goodness I run 3 smoker probes.

    So I think my main smoker probe was blocked (being under the pan the turkey rested on lol) so It never really got more than 280F.

    HOWEVER, my probe that sits on the hot side of the smoker was always between 325F and 345F.

    My probe on the opposite side of the rack/smoker was always 300-311F.

    So I just kind of split the difference assuming the turkey in the middle was between those two ranges hahaha.

    Also I knew it would be a fast smoke and I know the Pit Boss Competition Blend (PBCB) is a little on the light side so I did a double smoke by lighting two rows of the AMNPS as I often do in a situation like this.

    The Results:
    • The Turkey came out quite well
    • Skin was completely edible and on the hotter side of the smoker that skin was even crispy :)
    • The Turkey was JUICY all over. I threw out more than half a pan of juice and Turkey drippings (including the fat/grease) !
    • The smoke was good though I would have loved a little heavier smoke even though I doubled up.  What I found is that the Turkey is a much bigger piece of meat so it can handle a quite harder smoke than what I gave it and do well
    • The marinade was good and had the kind of flavor I was expecting, though I could have done a better job of injecting the breast, I used too light of a touch it seems
    • The color was good though the skin had some blemishes due to leaning on the rack some, I can fix this
    Lessons Learned:
    • Next time around I will be more aggressive with marinating the breast and not worry so much about moisture of the marinade undoing the dryness of the skin that I achieved from by letting the turkey sit uncovered in the fridge
    • I will use my big single vertical chicken/turkey rack next time so the turkey sits up better and the skin doesn't get marks from leaning against the current rack.
    • I will be read to eyeball the temp to try and get my desired set temp without having to work any magic.  I think using the other rack and a more streamlined pan setup will give me more even temps.
    • I will move my middle rack probe from being under the pan that the turkey sits in so it gives me a more accurate "at turkey" level temp reading
    • I will add/use some stronger wood for smoking.  I would love to do a pure Pecan smoke or I will blend 50% fruit wood with 50% Hickory or Mesquite.  I think the turkey will have no problem handling the stronger wood and will greatly benefit from it.
    • The Tony Cachere's Creole Butter injectable marinade seems to be a completely acceptable approach to save time if not wanting to brine or not having time to brine a whole turkey
    • I have a feeling that brining the Turkey may produce a better "traditional smoked" turkey where my approach was a little more of an exotic Turkey taste/dish.  My exotic version came out great but I would never expect to be presented with it at a BBQ joint, I would have different expectations for a Turkey at a BBQ joint
    • Smoked Turkey is NOT a substitute for Smoked Chicken and vice versa.  They are simply different cuts of meat so it's best to think of it the same way we think pork is not a substitute for beef.  Turkey and Chicken are both birds but they do not taste that close to one when smoked.   Used raw to make a soup they may be close to one another in tasted but not when it comes to the smoker.
    I think my next whole Turkey experiment will be a cured and brined whole Turkey.  

    I deboned a 7 pound turkey breast and am brining and curing it now to then tie together, smoke, and possibley slice like lunch meat.  Well see if I go through all the trouble of slicing it.

    As for my next whole Turkey experiment, it may be a while, I have a lot of turkey to go through from this last one and this curing turkey breast I plan to smoke tomorrow or the day after.

    I hope this info helps someone out there and please feel free to add anything or ask any questions.  Thanks!! :)
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
    crazymoon, sauced, mike5051 and 4 others like this.
  2. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Great looking turkey!  I fry one and smoke one for Thanksgiving these days.  I can't get a good read on which is better, they are both damn good!

  3. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    Thanks Mike!

    This past year I tried using an electric deep fryer.  It crapped out with 30 minutes left to go :(

    I will never use an electric deep fryer again, it's all propane for me.

    I have always liked deep fried turkey the best and then a good smoked turkey second.  I will try and see how well I can do these smoked turkeys and maybe that will be the way I go for a while.  The deep fried approach can have some drawbacks like getting and keeping the oil temp up in the winter while the wind is blowing.  A wind break helps but man it's a pain to fight mother nature :)

    I'll post my turkey breast attempt as well when I do it tomorrow or the day after :)
  4. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    TBM, great looking turkey and nice instructional post ! point
  5. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Awesome job on the turkey!

    Great step by step too!

    Congrats on making the carousel!


  6. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Great post!  I do a lot of turkey's...never have injected one though.  Might give that a try.  Congrats on making the the banner!  Points!
  7. chopsaw

    chopsaw Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Looks good . I Like what you said under lesson learned about crisp skin or moist flavor of the meat . 

    I've been brine curing chicken parts  and cant hardly do it any other way . 

    I'll be watching for the cured turkey post .
  8. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    Thanks, I'm glad you found it helpful :)
    Thanks Al, I didn't even know I made the carousel.  It's good to know a pro like you found the post to be a good one :)
    Thanks!  I have only ever injected for deep frying.  I cook quite a bit so I was confident it would turn out fine but you just never know until you try it and you don't know how different it will turn out.  As it goes it came out great.  I can improve it though by going heavier on the breast with the marinade, I was too cautious, but hey this was a learning experience :)
    Thanks!  Yeah I won't have the fear about the skin next time around.  I haven't cured a chicken yet but I sure have with Turkey parts.  I'm in love with cured Turkey thighs over drums.  I just happened to be able to get both and the extra meatiness of the thighs is to die for with all that cured flavor.

    Some day I'll get to that cured turkey post, it may be a good while though but you can bet I will get to it :)
  9. And that is how it's done! Awesome thread, great job with the write up and pics that looks top of the mark for table fare. 
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
  10. chilerelleno

    chilerelleno Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Turkey looks to be top shelf eats, great color and the meat pic looks juicy.
    Congrats on making the Carousel and a Point for the fine pics and even better write up.
  11. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    Thanks!  I'm glad you enjoyed the write up :)
    Thanks! The meat was very very juicy I threw out half a pan of drippings that I didn't need to use at all because the meat was so juicy.  I didn't expect to make the carousel so that was a nice plus :)
  12. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Great looking bird!
  13. griz400

    griz400 Master of the Pit

    Very nice bird .....[​IMG][​IMG]That skin really came out nice ... save them legs and thighs for some beans ... or some greens ....
  14. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit


    Too late, it was all pulled apart and put in baggies for meal prep for this past week and next week.  I think I did eat most of a drumstick though as I was pulling it apart :D

    I have a separate post on doing cured smoked turkey drums like those at the state fair and those guys would be great in some beans!

    Feel free to check it out:

  15. theelballew

    theelballew Smoke Blower

    That looks really good. Totally has me thinking about sandwiches for days! 
  16. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit


    Yeah I'm out of turkey meat for salads and sandwiches.  I need to make a plan go to the store today.  I'm in serious need of some meat for lunch salads and sandwiches over the next two weeks :)
  17. ososmokeshack

    ososmokeshack Smoke Blower

    Wow! Awesome write up and awesome looking turkey! Thanks for sharing!
  18. Great write up and a great looking smoked turkey. Those smoked turkey legs would be awesome in a gumbo when the weather cools down a little.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
  19. Rings Я Us

    Rings Я Us Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Got be brave and try it sometime.. looks fun to me. 🤓 good show!
  20. sauced

    sauced Master of the Pit

    Great looking turkey! I inject mine, have never brined. The family LOVES the turkey smoked, and prefers it over the smoked chicken.

    Also...very nice step by step!

    Points!!  [​IMG]

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