Help with a turkey

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by turfmunch, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. turfmunch

    turfmunch Fire Starter

    Hello all, its been awhile since I have posted but there are so many good ideas that alll I normally have time for is reading.

    Having said that, I am going to be smoking a medium sized turkey tomorrow.

    What tips can you all give me?

    Brine or no brine? If so, is there a standard recipe?

    Rub or no rub?

    I was thinking of setting the smoker around 225, should I be higher or lower?

    About the only caveat is that I cant smoke anything spicy. I have three kids who wont touch anything "hot" [​IMG]

    As always, thanks!!
  2. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have yet to smoke a turkey. Smoker is kind of small, but getting a new one soon...
    I smoke turkey legs almost every time I smoke and love them so I can't wait to do a full bird. I would say yes, brine, anytime anywhere you cook any foul you should brine (except for frying). The rub would be a personal preference but you could just spice the brine with any wanted flavors but 99% of the time I just do a simple brine and don't add anything. Turkey, salt and smoke, it can't get much better...
    Here is a good link with good brining info...

    They say to boil the water but that isn't necessary unless you are adding other ingredients that need heat to activate their flavor. You can simply put water in your container and stir the salt and sugar (pepper can be omitted) until dissolved, just make sure it is fully dissolved and that the water turns clear again.
    225 should be a good temp but others who have done turkey before will be by shortly to offer more advice I'm sure.
    You aren't stuffing the cavity right? My understanding is that stuffing the cavity will leave the inner cavity lingering in the danger zone for way too long. Anyways, just my .02
    But please, brine the bird. And...make sure you let it rest for about 20 mins before you throw it in the smoker, the water needs time to soak back into the bird, if not you will have wet skin that will pick up too much smoke and creosote.
  3. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Personally I like Travcoman45's brine recipe and brine overnight then rinse well. As far as rub about half the time I use a rub and other times I use garlic, onion, salt and pepper only. I like to smoke all poultry at about 325 it helps with the skin and also gets the bird thru the danger zone faster
  4. turfmunch

    turfmunch Fire Starter

    what's the "danger zone"?
  5. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Danger zone is when food sits at temperatures between 40-140 degrees, bacteria thrives in that range but cannot survive below or above it. Also, I forgot to mention but like Piney said, rinse after you brine to remove excess salt.
  6. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Basically you need to get meat from 40 degrees to 140 degrees in less than 4
    hours. There are some ways around this like curing and a few other ways but this is a good general rule and will keep you and the people that eat your food safe.
  7. turfmunch

    turfmunch Fire Starter

    Without curing it what is the best way to accomplish this?
  8. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Here's the brine, I never do poultry without brinin it, an fer a turkey there also be an injection recipe to. I'd smoke no less then 275* an 300* won't hurt a thin.

    Slaughterhouse Poultry Brine By Tip Piper of Hillbilly Vittles
    1 ½ Gal Water
    ½ C Salt - Kosher
    ½ C Dark Brown Sugar
    2 tsp Garlic Powder
    2 tsp Onion Powder
    2 tsp Cajun Spice (Louisiana Cajun Seasoning)
    2 tsp Celery Seed

    Slaughterhouse Poultry Injection
    ½ Pkg Good Seasons Italian Dressing
    2 tsp Garlic Powder
    2 tsp Celery Seed
    2 TBS melted Butter (non salted)
    2 C Apple Cider

    Slaughterhouse Spritz (Good fer everthin!)
    8 oz Apple Cider
    6 oz Water
    4 oz Whiskey
    2 oz Cider Vinegar
    That spritz gives a decent skin an great color. It be used on almost everthin I smoke.
  9. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Smoking at the right temps will get you thru the danger zone with no problems. Tip likes 275 and that works I like 325 and that works so I would say any where in between will get ya there. We are talking poultry here both of us smoke most other things at 225-250 but not poultry
  10. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi, and good luck on the turkey. It's easy as can be, just intimidating for the first time.

    I never brine mine. If it is a grocery store bird, it will already be brined (injected) with a salt solution for moisture. Look at the label closely it will say. If it's a wild or "gourmet" turkey you paid a ton of money for online, you will probably need to brine it.

    Do NOT stuff it when you are going to grill or smoke it. Make that separately.

    Just rub some salt, pepper on it and you're set. I smoke mine at 300-350 F depending on the heat fluctuations. I try to stay at 325.

    Every so often, spritz it with OJ, apple juice, whatever you like. We like OJ here (no pulp or it clogs the spray bottle)

    You may have to rotate your bird around during the smoke if you're using a offset smoker to even out the heat on the bird.

    smoke until the temp reads 170 F internal. Take the temp at the thick part of the breast, or thigh, careful not to touch bone.

    That's it, and may your bird come out great!
  11. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Another thing you can do is to cut out the backbone, break the sternum and lay the bird flat on the grates; called spatchcocking. I usually go ahead and completely debone them while I'm at it, but certainly not necessary. By splitting the bird open, you increase the surface area exposed to heat, and thereby cooking it faster and safer.

    I also add bacon to keep it moist. Here is a post showing that:

    Also as for temp, the lower the temp, the more smoke (though poultry takes on smoke well, so you can over do it) and the higher the temp the more moist the meat and crispy the skin. This post talks about some pro's and con's to high and low heat for poultry:

    I'm no expert, but I smoke more poultry than beef or pork and am very picky about my results; dry is the devil!
  12. jamesb

    jamesb Smoking Fanatic

    Too late to this thread to help the original poster, but... We cook a lot of turkeys, for us anyway, every year around the T-Day/Christmas holidays...

    If I'm just cooking one for the family, I brine... I keep trying new recipes...

    Now if I'm cooking 35-40 turkeys for friends, family and neighbors like we did last T-Day, I don't have the room to brine... At least I don't want to do all that work. This is probably the only time that I don't mind buying 'pumped' meat... We buy the varieties that already have a % of a solution added... Basically they are pre-brined. Not as good as home made, but...

    Next I prefer to cook poultry hot. If all I'm doing are birds then the pit is ramped up to the ~325° range and cook until they hit temp and you can 'shake the turkey's hand' (grab the leg and if it is loose in the joint, bird is done.

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