High Temperature Smoking

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by hfactor, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. Over the weekend thought I’d try smoking a bone-in turkey breast.  After reading a few posts, thought I’d try to use higher heat in the range of 300 degrees.  This in an attempt to get a darker, crispier skin.

    I brined the turkey breast in 2 qt. water, ¼ salt, ¼ brown sugar, assorted poultry spices, for about 6 hours.  So I pre-heated my propane smoker to 300 degrees, and put my apple chunks in my cast iron chip pan.  Then put the 2 ½ pound bone-in turkey breast in the smoker.

    The first problem I ran into was at 300 degrees my apple chucks began to smoke too much.  I think this might have been due to the fact that my cast iron chip pan is very close (2”) above my propane burner.    I do much of my smoking in the 200 to 225 degree range, and I need this spacing so that I can get smoke in this temperature range.  I’m thinking that if I move the cast iron pan to maybe 5 inches off the heat source that I wouldn’t get the flare up on the wood chunks?  Anyone offer up any suggestions?  What configuration do you use when smoking at higher temperatures?

    My second concern is the quality of the turkey.  It took 3 hours for the breast to get to the desired 170 degrees internal temperature.  At this point I wrapped the turkey in foil, and wrapped it in towels, and place in an ice chest.  After an hour, I removed the breast, and sliced it up.  The turkey was over smoked, probably due to the smoke flare up but the turkey meat was dry.  I’m wondering if the extended cook time was the culprit here?  Any help with why the turkey might have been dry?

    Thanks in advanced….

  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It sounds to me like you over cooked it. If you took it off at 170, then wrapped it & put it in an ice chest it would continue to cook & probably hit 180+, which is way too high for breast meat. You should have taken it off at 165 & let it rest on the counter for 15 or 20 minutes then sliced it. You may also want to put some butter under the skin next time.
  3. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I agree with Al.. 170` definitely to high.. I'm more in favor of 160` and let rest on counter 15-20 min... Definitely to long in the cooler as well.. no cooler needed...
  4. Instead of starting at 300, you could smoke a couple of hours at 200 or so then bump it up to 300 without smoke until you get the desired IT of 165-170. That way you get a slow smoke at the beginning the the finish gets your darker crispier skin.
  5. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    It sounds like you over cooked the breast now I would maybe smoke the next one at 275° but take it off at 160°ish and it will carry over to 165°ish. You can also start the bird at a lower temp and crank the temp up to 300° for the last bit to crisp the skin. Either way I would recommend that you take your bird out earlier.
  6. johnnie walker

    johnnie walker Smoking Fanatic

    I have done a couple turkey breast in my propane smoker. I do them in the 300* range to try and crisp the skin also. I run the IT up to about 165* and take it out and let it set on the counter while I get things ready, then go ahead and slice it. So far the ones I have done came out moist and tasty. I think if you lose the cooler on the bird you'll be better off.

    I used to use a small cast iron skillet for a chip pan that was close to my burner.  Try putting a layer of play sand in the bottom of the smoker box then the chips on the sand. You'll have to play with the amount of sand until you figure out how much you need in the bottom of the pan. It worked for me. 
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  7. dewetha

    dewetha Smoking Fanatic

    for the chucks, I also find they can catch fire when too high a temp is used. i have a skillet that sits a real close to the flame. I find that placing a cast iron chip box on top of the skillet at high temps produces batter smoke and less fire :)
  8. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have never had a T-breast come out dry when I have brined. However I pull it 160-165 wrap and let it rest.  I agree it sounds like it's over cooked. Are you sure you temp was right, If you were going by stock thermometer your temp may very well have been higher then 300. I have a MF 2 door LPG smoker, I smoke my turkeys around 275. You might try placing some HD foil over the cast iron skillet with some slits cut in it, to help prevent flare ups.

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