Pressure is on; semi new to smoking, hosting Thanksgiving for the new GF's family, and my mom got me

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by krazykid, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. krazykid

    krazykid Newbie

    So yeah, im feeling the heat more than this bird will.  I have been smoking food as a new hobby with awesome results sofar on my charcoal smoker but yesterday I picked up a MES 40 sportsman elite to make life easier/safer for this turkey job.  Ran it for the first time yesterday and did a big rack of beef ribs, came out perfect and the machine is so easy to use, I have confidence now for my turkey.

    So my mother picked up the turkey 25lb store-bought she said it wasn't a kosher or anything.  @ 275 I'm looking at a smoke time of 8 hours. 

    I've been reading for days, so here is my game plan please let me know if im good to go using this recipe:

    So the concept is:

    Tuesday evening mix up the brine, 3 gals probably to dunk the bird in a 5gal pale (I know make sure its HPDE 2 for food safe right?)

    Wednesday I have to put it in the brine at some point. Put the brine in the fridge making sure it stays UNDER 40 deg (this keeps me from starting the danger zone ticker right?)  Now, if I put it in at 1PM, that's 12hrs brine time to start smoking at 1AM Thursday.  Or can I just put it in at 7:30am when I go to work, or will that be in the brine too much?


    -Get up at 4:30am. Start smoker at 275 (no wood). Pull bird from brine, rinse, pat dry (do it quick).  Get it on the smoker by 5.  Add wood. (I am thinking of adding wet larger wood chunks to the tray so they smoke longer than the smaller, fine wood chips I usually put in it). 

    smoke for 8 hours

    keep smoking until internal temps of 160 breast/170 thigh is met.  Pull out around 1:00-1:30, cover with foil for 30-45 minutes then serve.

    foot notes for my reminder:

    *275 deg = 20 mins per lb   Add 15-30 mins every time you open the smoker to baste, clear ash tray, etc.

    *Breast meat must reach 160, thigh 170.  will rise 10deg once pulled and foil wrapped to meet USDA standards.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  2. jim beam

    jim beam Newbie

    Spatchcock that big bird and you can cook it in 4-5 hours at 300-325
  3. krazykid

    krazykid Newbie

    issue is the MES maxes at 275... and its outside in probably 15-20 deg weather.

    but yeah i am going to split it half and do each half on its own separate rack.  doesn't have to look good, just gotta taste good!
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The two halves are a good choice will cut the cook time pretty close to in half. You need a modified plan but you were on the right track above. 40 to 140 in 4 is a safe guideline but no reason to panic if you go longer. As long as your heat is steady, no power failure, keep cooking and you be fine...JJ
  5. krazykid

    krazykid Newbie

    I split the beast in half, got one of those giant ziplocks (checked and made sure it said its food safe on their site).  made about 5 gallons of brine, put it all in the bag and put the bag in the cooler packed with ice and set it outside on the deck (its like 30 degrees out today).

    I am getting up at 4am to fire up the smoker and have it in there at 275 by 5am.  By 9 it should be over 140 and noon I will have 7 hours smoke time.  If its close to 160 by 1 ill keep it going, if not ill have the oven preheated to 375 and pop it in there to finish it off.  that's the game plan!

    Im also smoking sweat potatoes on my charcoal smoker @ 225 to caramelize them most of the way then mash them up to make a casserole in the oven to finish.
  6. drewed

    drewed Meat Mopper

    Don't tent the bird with foil, it will make the skin even worse.  Be careful with smoke.  Turkeys have almost no flavor of their own, and are really easy to over smoke.  

    If you want and have the room, you could smoke for 2 or 3 hours and then toss that big bird into the over at ~350ish to finish cooking and toast up the skin.
  7. krazykid

    krazykid Newbie

    thanks for the heads up.  I was reading that about over smoking.  for some reason my MES40 I just got has the old small chip tray and tube.  if I take chips and only fill the loader level to the cutout and drop those in I get a good smoke level but it only lasts about 20 minutes then no smoke and the ash or lack there of are black chips with only the edges slightly glowing (once I pull the loader out and look inside the hole).  I believe this is a lack of air flow coming into the tray.  vent on the side is wide open.  I read that I should leave the loader 180 degrees or it chokes it right off?   except nobody tells you where to start with that rotation lol.  is that 180 from the dumped position if you just reloaded it, or 180 from "locked" in the tube which is the same position it would be in to dump the chips in the tray? 

    or I can pull the tube out a little bit to allow more air in there to get a more complete burn of the chips.

    but yah around the noon mark or so ill decided how it looks to pop it in the oven or not.
  8. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Please don't soak the chunks in water. They will steam and make a lot of white smoke. Also, you need to build in some time between brining and putting in the smoker. After you rinse your bird and pat it dry, put it in the fridge to let the skin dry very well. This will give you a better finish on the skin.

    Good luck and good smokin', Joe
  9. ibbones

    ibbones Meat Mopper

    I just pulled off a 22 pound bird from my MES 30" smoker.  I had to cut the bird in half and it smoker in just over five hours at 250*.  It's resting now and I will cut it up and then reheat for tomorrow.
  10. krazykid

    krazykid Newbie

    Yup!  I tried that because it was what i always did for the charcoal smoker i started out on.  it sucked for sure, made it like a sauna in there.   won't do that again

    10-4 on the dry time good point.   Ibbones did his exactly like I am about to so 3 more lb. ill add another hour and a half to his and shoot for 7 hours to smoke mine, so if i get up at 3 pull the bird first dry and refrigerate then fire up the smoker i can give it an hour and have it on at 4, smoke for 7 and be done with time to spare.
    Awesome!!! thanks for the confidence boost! 
  11. ibbones

    ibbones Meat Mopper

    Hey did the bird turn out?
  12. krazykid

    krazykid Newbie

    Great success!  Right off the top I want to thank all that replied, and many more who provided great content for this forum in other threads I used for help!

    I got up at 4:00 fired up the smoker and pulled the bird out, dried it, rubbed it and put it back in the fridge for an hour as the smoker came up to temp.  It was 29 degrees out and faint breeze here and there, I couldn't get the actual temp inside the smoker up past 252 degrees.  I popped the bird in, one half on the center one the top rack.  Put a good sized handful of chips in and closed the door.  I wrapped the unit with R21 backed insulation I had from the remodeling I am doing on the house upstairs, and used a 12 pack box with a hole in the side to act as a chimney/wind block for the side exit vent on the machine.  That helped bring it up to 265 max.  After about 30 minutes I pulled the chip tray to look in side and they were black chips, hardly smoldering.  so I left the chip loader out totally and put another 12 pack box (folded in so it had no top basically) right infront of the chip loader hold maybe 1/2" away from the machine so there was a little air gap but no gusts of wind could blow in.  this got the chips going very well and raised the temp inside to 270-280 on ave.  I would watch the temp slowly dip to 260-255, i would look in the hole and all white ash.  Put fresh chip load in once they got burning it got up to 270-280 again. so this tells me the chip loader lacks air flow, I will use it to load chips, or just use larger chunks and push them in, then ill machine up an adjustable vent cap to slide into the side of the machine.

    by 8:20 the top one was at 145 and the bottom one was at 140.  by 9:30 the top one was 150 and bottom was 146.  I opened the door, dumped the ash tray, and used a mixture of maple syrup and the rub, brushed it on the bird and went back at it.  At this point I knocked the temp down to 260, outside temps got up to 34 deg and it stayed a lot steadier.  I was way ahead of schedule I felt.  At 10:30 the top one was 160 and the bottom was at 155.  I popped the precooked ham in, basted it with the same rub/syrup and swapped the turkeys around and brushed the rest on the turkeys.  Kept smoking till noon-thirty and they both landed at 170 at the same time.  I wanted to make darn sure they were cooked so I went past the 165 mark to be safe.  Pulled the turkeys and put them each in their own roasting tins, wrapped them with 2 bath towels and set them on the counter.  The ham stayed in for another hour to reach 130 (remember it was precooked).

    The night prior I did the sweet potatoes, 275 I set the machine i think it was warmer out and irc it actually stayed around 265 inside temp the whole time.  took 4 hours to get them up to 190 deg then i was tired and pulled them to put them in the fridge to mash up the next day, brown sugar mixed in with some salt and pepper, topped with mellows and popped in the oven until browned.  they were AMAZING.

    The turkey stayed perfectly warm, the outside was crispy and tasted awesome!  the meat was smoked perfectly, and everyone loved it.  The ham was over smoked by my standards but everyone said it was awesome too.  the Sweetpotatoes were the smash hit though, hands down the best I have ever had anywhere.   All and all it was great.  Had a lot of sentimental value too, this was the first thanksgiving i hosted and cooked for and thanks giving is my girlfriends favorite holiday, she loves to cook and has never hosted either so it was a really big deal for her.  I am very proud to have hit it out of the park for her! 

  13. ibbones

    ibbones Meat Mopper

    Sounds like you have this all under control.  Good write-up also.  Bet your first Thanksgiving host will not be your last.  Might as well plan on cooking for Christmas.

    Sweet taters are one of my faves on the smoker.

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