Smoking a Turkey for the 1st Time and need help!

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by boingofan, Dec 20, 2014.

  1. Greetings all!

    I have an MES 30" smoker and will be smoking a 16 3/4 pound turkey.  I have a general idea of how I want to do this after reading several posts on the forums, however, I could definitely use some assistance on multiple questions I have because I have never done this before.  I have had my smoker for about 6 months and have smoked multiple types of meat so far and all have turned out great thanks to all the people on this site providing rookies like me with many years of knowledge.  I need to tap into all that great knowledge again, thank you to any that can help.

    My plan is to use the Slaughterhouse brine for 24 hours, I have a few questions on this:

    1.  Because it is store bought, should i use less salt in the brine?

    2.  After I take the turkey out of the brine, how long should it sit before I do my rub?

    I am planning on using a poultry rub I really like on this bird and will use EVOO to coat it on and under the skin, I am not planning on doing injections.  For the smoking, I am planning on using Applewood chips (I like the tangy flavor they give to poultry), but I am open to suggestions.  I am going to smoke it at 275 degrees.

    1.  Any ideas for what to put in the turkey's cavity for flavor?

    2.  I am trying to get a rough cooking time estimate, any ideas?

    3.  Is EVOO ok to coat the turkey in or am I better off with melted butter?

    4. Any suggestions for what to put in the water pan in the smoker, (beer, water, apple juice)?

    Thanks in again to any help you all can provide me!

    Dave from L.A.
  2. I do turkeys on my basic Bass Pro kettle smoker all the time. I have done a few of them stuffed with herbs and apple pieces but honestly, now I just go at it unstuffed. I brine for two full days and find at around 250/275* it takes approx 45 minutes per pound or less. I do baste a few times during the cook and have used both EVOO and Butter and a combination of the two. I really don't find much of a difference. It really seems more about making a super beautiful skin than anything. In the pan I always use half and half apple juice and water...

    I will let it rest wrapped up in foil for about and hour or more before cutting...

    I have a 15 pounder on as we speak... I am trying to time it with two boston butt's and 2 small beef briskets. Lots of fun!

    Good luck with your bird!
  3. welshrarebit

    welshrarebit Master of the Pit

    Nothing bad ever happens to me. So, why should I care? ;)

    Sounds like a good plan...

    I put just put a good amount of spog w/ paprika everywhere including the cavity. My wife likes to put a cut up onion and a couple of Rosemary twigs in the cavity.

    The last whole turkey I did was a 14 lber at 280 and it took 5 1/2 hours. I quartered one and took a little over three hours at 325.

    I have never used a water pan in my life so can't help there...

    Edit: I saw Oingo Boingo open for U2 in '83! Best concert I have ever been to...
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014
    boingofan likes this.
  4. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    Howdy Dave[​IMG]

    I'll chime in. First off on your wood, apple should be fine. I personally like cherry. Nice flavor and really nice color. I have used both olive oil and butter and have settled on a combination of both. Your temp sounds good. I do at 275 in my MES. I don't put anything in the cavity except some of the rub and whatever you decide to baste with. On your timing, the largest I have done is a 14lb and it took between 6 and 7 hours.
    boingofan likes this.
  5. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Look at the label on the bird and try to see if it is already brined. It doesn't necessarily matter, you can brine it again but you could leave out some of the salt if so. I find these days if I get poultry that has been enhanced or liquid added or whatever I don't brine. I had one turn out real hammy and I am kind of gun shy now on that. I like to spatchcock birds of all kinds now. They cook more even and more surface area gets smoke. They also cook quite a bit quicker. You might not have room in there for a fully spatched bird though. I like sea salt, black pepper, thyme, rosemary and lots of old bay. If you do brine don't forget to wash it all off and dry your bird out really really good before seasoning and smoking. Keep us posted on what you do and ask away. Happy smoking. timber 
    boingofan likes this.
  6. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Personally I use a bit less salt in my brines when I know I am going to rub or sprinkle salt based seasoning and why seasoning these days isn't 50% salt? If a brine is 1 to 2, salt to sugar I will edge that back a little. Maybe 3/4 to 2. And if using canning salt its 2/3's to 2. Difference is grind adds density/weight to volumn.

    I am confussed on this currently also. If I fan dry for a pellicle (the most preferred method besides over night reefer), does it make sense then to rub oil (suntan lotion)? I usually do that. Dry it till a pellicle is formed, thats the yellow subsurface fat, and it becomes tacky.

    I nearly always cook mine much lower, I like 220, and I'd figure 30 to 45 mins./lb. Thats just an estimate.

    Long ago I used expensive oils on mine, even the "Flavored oils", Then I realized its just suntan lotion, its so if it gets overly hot the skin doesn't crack and break and it also holds on the spice rub. Why waste the good stuff?

    For years I swore by cranberry juice in the water pan, but then I realized it wasn't a water pan. Water pans are in units that can steam. And after a few tests I realized I was just imagining I could taste it. So either fill it with sand for a heat sink, or leave it out completely. The MES30 doesn't need additonal moisture unless you are opening it alot and we all know better than that.

    lastly and most importantly. You say you have mastered a chicken and you like it. Why change that? Its a holiday..... everyone will be hungry, go with what you already know and work on changes for next year. Pizzahut can be a lifesaver and a great Christmas meal story for years to come. As long as it was your Brother-in-law who did it. LOL

    Relax, enjoy it, and you know what to do. Let everyone else realize you have already mastered your smoker.  No Stress! More refreshments.
    boingofan likes this.
  7. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hope this helps ya out.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014
    boingofan likes this.
  8. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  9. Thank you all for your answers and suggestions, very much appreciated!

    I am cookin this bird on Friday and will definitely update you all on how this goes and will include some (hopefully good) pics
  10. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


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