Introduction and Turkey Question

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by johnnyrod, Jun 19, 2015.

  1. First off, I'm new here. I just picked up a 30" MES and have been lurking a bit around the forums. Some great advice and great atmosphere, so I'm happy to be here!

    Moving on, I've got a few projects in mind for the smoker. One of them is to get rid of a huge turkey I had previously forgotten about in the freezer. I've read about the 4 hour rule and given the 275˚ max temp I've got to pay attention to that, especially given the size of the bird. It's too large to fit in whole, so I'm thinking of cutting it up and putting it in in chunks. My assumption, and therefore my question, is that cutting it up should help to cook faster and hopefully keep me in the clear given the 4 hour rule of thumb. Does that sound accurate?

    Also, happy (and eager) to hear any other advice for smoking a turkey in the MES, whether it be technique, rubs, brines, or any general tips. Thanks all in advance, and excited to join the forums!
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes, cutting it up will help with the timing and the temp.  Just be aware that you'll have pieces done at different times.  Have an instant or quick read probe available to start checking after a couple hours. 

    Cutting the bird up also helps make it easier if you are going to brine it, which I always do with poultry, especially previously frozen birds.  I'll have to check back later to input any recipes as I'm short on time this morning.  Other's may jump in and give you their recipes. 
  3. Good point on them being done at different times, thanks! I'll gladly take any recipes you'd like to share if you get a chance, no rush! Thanks for the info!
  4. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    I have a 26 lb'er that I'm going to have to separate the breast from the carcass.  I just cut through the rib cage and keep it on the bone.  Pop's wet cure is great for Turkey.  I'll leave it in for four days.  I'll do two different smokes with this bird.

  5. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The brine that has been getting rave reviews for chicken and turkey around here is a modified version of Alton Brown's Poultry Brine.  Recipe is below.  It is enough for a 12-14 lb turkey, maybe more if you part it out like you mentioned.  If you don't have the #1 Pink Salt (used for curing), you could leave it out but it does give the smoked poultry meat a fantastic taste. 

    I also inject the brine in the breast to make sure it gets deep into the meat.   

    Orange Juice Poultry Brine

    This was a brine I used for injecting the breast meat prior to brining.  It was a takeoff of Alton Brown's OJ brine.  The results were AMAZING!  More than once I've heard people say "this is the best chicken I've eaten in my life."

    Note:  I initially warmed the ingredients to dissolve the solids.  What I found that works better is blending the brine a large capacity blender.  Blending worked MUCH better than putting it on the stove.  Do not use molasses if blending and injecting.  It leaves a foamy residue in the meat that is unappetizing (discovered the hard way). 

    Ziplock "Large" 3 gallon storage bags, which are food safe, are great to use as brining bags and will easily hold two 6 lbs chickens or one 12-14 lb turkey and the brine.  Double bag the bird(s) if using just one bag.  They can leak.  Discard the bag(s) after use.

    1/2 tsp Prague #1 Pink Salt
    1/2 cup kosher salt
    1 Tbs onion powder
    1  Tbs garlic powder
    1 tsp black pepper
    1 cup dark brown sugar or inexpensive maple syrup
    1 quart orange juice
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1/4 cup lime juice
    1 quart water
    1 quarts ice 
    1 quart water


    1. In a large capacity blender mix all the brine ingredients except the ice and the last quart of water.  Blend until well blended and the solids have dissolved.  Pour into a large Dutch Oven then add the ice and last quart of water.  The brine should be cold before adding chicken.  If you don't want to use a blender, just mix the ingredients in the Dutch Oven, stir over low heat until well blended, then add the ice.

    2. Place fresh or thawed poultry in the Dutch Oven.  Inject the breast meat while sitting in the brine then move to your brining bag.  If doing this as a one person operation put the brining bag in another large stock pot or Dutch oven.  Open it.  Grab the chicken with one hand by the legs, hold and let drain, then put in the brining bag breast down.  This recipe make enough for two 6 to 6.5 lbs chickens.  Pour the remaining brine and last quart of water over the poultry, seal and store for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator or a cooler packed with ice jugs.  Brining for more than 24 hours is not recommended but I've done it up to 48 hours with no adverse effects. This process will produce a tender, juicy final product because the salt in the brine changes the protein structure of the meat.

    3. After brining, drain the pan or brining bag really well and discard the brine. Rinse the poultry again then prep for smoking.
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Welcome. The only Brine I use on Poultry is below. It has been used by many folks around here and by me over 20 years. Have fun...JJ

    Juicy Smoke-tastic Chicken and Turkey

    Here is a Brine and Rub that is a Favorite with members of my Family. I like Apple and/or Hickory with Chicken or Turkey. We determine doneness by measuring the Internal Temp (IT) in the thickest part of the Breast and Thigh, 165* and 175*F respectively. For a One Step Smoke with Crispy Skin the birds have to be smoked at a temp of 300-325°F. You can figure about 15 minutes per pound to reach the desired IT. Electric smokers usually only go to 275°F. With these you will be smoking at the most common temp range of 225-275°F. You can figure on about 25 minutes per pound cook time + or - 5 minutes depending what part of the range you choose. Usually the skin will not crisp so if the skin is not Crisp enough when the IT is 145*F in the Breast, put the Bird in a 425*F Oven to finish cooking to 165* and Crisp the Skin...JJ

    Families Favorite Brine

    1/2C Kosher Salt

    2T Paprika

    2T Gran. Garlic

    2T Gran. Onion

    2T Dry Thyme

    2T Black Pepper

    1C Vinegar (Any)

    1-11/2Gal Cold Water to cover Chix

    1/2C Brown Sugar, Optional

    1T Red Pepper Flake Optional

    Mix well and Soak the Bird over night or up to 24 Hours.

    Remove the Chix, rinse if desired and pat dry with paper towels.

    Place in an open container in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours for the Skin to dry.

    This will give a crispier skin when Smokng or Roasting...

    Bubba Chix Rub

    1/2C Raw Sugar

    2T Paprika (I use Smoked if I'm just Grilling)

    1T Cayenne

    1T Gran. Garlic

    1T Gran. Onion

    1tsp Black Pepper

    1tsp Wht Pepper

    1tsp Allspice

    1tsp Bell's Poultry Seasoning or Thyme

    Mix well. You can put directly on the skin or mix with Butter, Oil or Bacon Grease and rub on and under the Skin.

    Reduce Cayenne to 1 teaspoon if less heat is desired. Add 1T Kosher Salt if the bird is not Brined.

    Place a pan with some veggies under the Turkey to make some Gravy. Here's a recipe. 

    Smokey Turkey Gravy

    1- Lg Onion,

    4-5 Carrots,

    3-4 Ribs Celery

    3-4 Peeled Cloves of Garlic

    Toss them in a pan under the Turkey, and let the whole deal Smoke for one hour,

    THEN add 4-6 Cups Chicken Broth,

    1/2tsp Dry Thyme (4-5 sprigs Fresh)

    1/2tsp Dry Sage (2 sprigs Fresh)

    1-2 ea Bayleaf

    Finish the Smoking process to the IT you want.

    While the Turkey is resting, dump the pan juices, veggies and all into a 2-3Qt Sauce pot and bring the Jus to a boil, lower the heat and simmer 20-30 minutes. Strain out the veggies and let the Jus rest a minute or so for the Fat to rise. Skim off the bulk of the fat then using strips of paper towel laid on top of the Jus then quickly removed, take off the last little bit of fat.Bring the Jus back to a simmer. Mix 2T Flour and 4T Chicken Broth for each Cup of defatted Jus. Whisk together to make a Slurry with no lumps, add a little additional Broth if needed. Whisk the Slurry into the simmering Jus, bring back to a simmer and cook 5-10 minutes to cook out the flour taste and fully thicken the Gravy. Adjust the seasoning with Salt and Pepper and serve.

    The purpose of Smoking the Vegetable for 1 hour before adding the Broth and Herbs is...The Smoked vegetables Roast in the Dry heat concentrating their Flavors and Sweetness giving the finished Jus a Richer, Deeper, Full Flavor.

    Serve the sliced Turkey with plenty of Gravy and Enjoy...JJ
  7. Thanks for the comments and recipes guys, I really appreciate it. I'm actually having trouble getting the unit to heat up, so looks like I'll be taking it apart today and hopefully find a loose connection or something simple. I'll report back once I can try some of these recipes!
  8. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It should speed things up but remember the other half of the 4 hour rule is that the internal temperature of all meat needs to be above 140° F within that 4 hours. I've only cooked a 12 lb. turkey breast in my MES 30 Gen 1. I think I cooked it at 235° and I had my ET-733 FOOD probe in the breast to monitor temps. The breast IT rose out of the danger zone within the 4 hours and the breast turned out great--exactly as I had hoped.

    If you're going to cut up the turkey, make sure the pieces are small enough to heat up quickly. If you cut it up you should be able to smoke at a lower temp than 275°. The BBQ competition pros cook at that temp but they're cooking huge hunks of meat in offset stick burners, gravity feed smokers, BGEs, and such under competition conditions so they have to cook at that "high" temp. My temp sweet spot is 225-250°.

Share This Page