BONDO NEEDS ADVICE...I was "TOLD" by my daughter that I would be smoking my 23 lbs Turkey for Thank

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by bondo, Nov 21, 2015.

  1. bondo

    bondo Newbie

    Hello, I have had my Hollow Smoke Smoker for about a year and love it.  I have smoked 2 large chickens and baby back ribs in my smoker at 220 for 6 hours and it turns out great.  The family really likes it.  However, now it's Thanksgiving time and my daughter told me to smoke our 23 lb Turkey for the 20+ people coming over for Thanksgiving.  I see on the internet a lot of advice and none of it consistent.  I see where some folks say don't smoke a bird over 15 lbs, and I've seen comments that the temperature of the Turkey needs to get to 145 degrees in 4 hours, or I will make all my guests sick.  I have also read that you smoke a 23 lb turkey at 250 for 11 hours.  There's lots of conflicting messages...So here's my ask...Can someone share with me what temperature should my smoker be for a 23 lb Butterball thawed Turkey, and how long should I smoke it, and does it really matter if the bird does not heat up to 145 degrees in 4 hours? 
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. bondo

    bondo Newbie

    Dear Noboundaries,  Thanks for the quick reply and informative link.  We just bought our Turkey from the grocery store and have in the refrigerator now.  It's almost thawed, so I'm hoping if we leave it in the cool fridge for 5 days we should be good to go.  A couple of questions on the brine process.

    I don't have a cooler small enough for 2 gallons of ice water to cover the bird.  Can I use a home depot bucket to put the brine and the ice water in, and just cover the home depot bucket with tin foil for the 24 hour period?

    Also, one other thing here...In the past when I smoke chicken, the juices drip all over the bottom of my smoker.  Is it ok to put a drip pan in between the turkey and the water bowl?

    Again, Thanks for the quick post...and solid advice
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  4. bbqwillie

    bbqwillie Smoking Fanatic

    As long as it's a food grade bucket and you've clean it well. Go for it.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  5. bondo

    bondo Newbie

    Thx BBQWillie, Also, one other thing here...In the past when I smoke chicken, the juices drip all over the bottom of my smoker.  Is it ok to put a drip pan in between the turkey and the water bowl?
  6. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Here are some options for brining the bird.

    1.  Buy a brining bag at the grocery store, put the bird in the brining bag, THEN put it in the HD bucket and add the brine to the turkey in the bag  Seal the bag then dump a bunch of ice on top of the bird.  Wrap the bucket in old blankets for insulation. 

    2.  Use the cooler you have with a brining bag.  At least a two person operation.  Put the bag in the cooler, put the turkey in the bag, pour in the brine, then seal the bag.  The bag will leak out the top so use ice jugs and whatever else you need to keep the setup vertical. 

    3. You can also pick up a cheap Styrofoam cooler at a hardware store or chain drugstore and use it instead of the bucket.  Clean it out and no need for the brining bag, but throw it away after you are done with it.  If you want to keep it, use a brining bag. 

    4. If you have a large stainless steel stock pot (like a 16 to 20 quart) you can use it too instead of a bucket.  If it is aluminum you need to use a brining bag because the salt will react with the aluminum (not good) and give the turkey a metallic taste.

    Yes on the drip pan.  You can also fill the drip pan with veggies, throw in a half to full bottle of cheap white wine, and let the drippings from the bird flavor your veggies (see drip pan pic below from last TG) (hmmmm, pictures won't load for some reason).
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Drip Pan.....

    Be sure there is adequate room around the pan for heat to travel.....
  8. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Drip pan smoked veggies.  One of my favorite parts of the meal.

    Hmmmm, pic loads on the draft but won't show when I hit submit.  Must be a firewall issue.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  9. Something more you could consider is to "spatchcock" the bird.  This is basically cutting out the backbone so the turkey will lie flat.  Run a couple of skewers through the thighs to hold it together.  Go a web search on Google for the term spatchcock.  

    You end up with a better cooked bird since heat gets to all sides more evenly, and more quickly.  This works for a large turkey especially, and I have had good luck with it.  I've also had good luck smoking a complete turkey too.  

    The down side is you do not have a nice complete bird to show off at the table.  

    Good luck.  
  10. bondo

    bondo Newbie

    Ok folks, I have my turkey in a Brine bag with all the fixins sitting in the fridge.  Based on what I have read, here is my plan..Please let me know if I need to adjust...

    1.  After 24 hours in the brine bag, I will fire up my Smokehollow smoker to 370 degrees (using Hickory and Apple wood mix).

    2.  I will put a temperature probe in the turkey breast deep.

    2.  I plan on setting the turkey on the rack with breast side up.

    3.  I "plan" on smoking the Turkey for 4  hours at 370 degrees in hopes of the breast getting to 165 degrees n that time span.

    Is my temperature/time frame reasonably accurate?  I know it's not an exact science, but wanted some thoughts here....Thx..Bondo
  11. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Last year I did two 18.3 lb turkeys on different days.  One had no drip pan with veggies, chamber temp was around 325F, and it was done in 3.25 hours (165F breast, 175F thigh).   The second 18.3 lb'er had a drip pan with a BUNCH of veggies below it and almost a full bottle of cheap white wine in it for flavoring.   That's a pretty big heat sink and the temp on in the chamber started around 250F and climbed to 280F.  It took 4.5 hours.  At 370F for your 23 lb bird 4 hours is about right. 
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
  12. bondo

    bondo Newbie

    Thanks Noboundaries!!  I will have  drip tray, but it will be empty (just catchin the drippings).  Thanks for all the advice and counsel.  I'll let you know how it all turns out!!  Bondo
  13. bondo

    bondo Newbie

    One last question....When I take the turkey out of the brine bag tomorrow am...Do I rinse the turkey with water to before I pat it down with paper towels?
  14. jeffinn

    jeffinn Fire Starter

    Yes, rinse well and pat dry.
  15. jaxrmrjmr

    jaxrmrjmr Smoking Fanatic

    I recommend spatchcocking a turkey.  I've done it the past three years and wouldn't go back to cooking a bird whole.  Easier to carve and quicker to cook.

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