Turkey Breast Smoke 2 Days early

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by famous58, Mar 25, 2016.

  1. famous58

    famous58 Newbie

    Hey all, smoking my first turkey breast for Easter. It is actually going right now, just past the 5 hour mark at 230 degrees. My question though is about reheating on Sunday. I had to smoke today (Friday) due to other plans tomorrow and Sunday morning. Didn't have a problem smoking a couple days early. Just plan on wrapping in foil at 160, and letting rest for a few hours, then refrigerating until Sunday Morning. My plan is to simply slice the breast and put in a crock pot on low with a rack and little water in the bottom on Sunday morning. Has anyone used a crock pot as a reheating method? And if I am slicing the breast is it better to slice them tonight, and then refrigerate until Sunday, or to leave whole tonight, and slice them cold Sunday before going into the crock. Or should I eliminate the crock all together and reheat whole breast on Sunday, and then slice warm? I won't be home most of the morning to monitor warm up, so I'm hoping I can use a slow crock pot method of some sort. Sorry for the lengthy description, but thanks for looking guys, and hopefully someone has some guidance; appreciate it!
  2. siege

    siege Smoke Blower

    Put those nice, moist , flavorful , smoky slices of turkey in vac bags and seal them up, locking all that goodness in. When you are ready to serve, heat the bags in a pot of very warm ( not boiling ) water, or stack them in water in the crockpot on low. Open the bags and serve when heated through. No loss of flavor or moisture !
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The Crock Pot, for several hours on Warm can cause Bacterial issues and on Low will turn the meat into mush...Reheating as described above, will take 20 to 30 minutes or shingle the slices in a pan with Gravy or Broth. Cover and heat at 300-325 for about 45 to 60 minutes until hot, 160°F. I used the second method this past Thanksgiving to heat and serve 25 pounds, 2 pans, of sliced Turkey that I cooked 2 days ahead...JJ
  4. I am very interested in this one because I am smoking a huge turkey breast tomorrow along with some country ribs. I always make the mistake of asking for info right before I need it, usually on a holiday when evrey one else is busy smoking meats!

    The following is an OPINION. I am not making a claim to be any more of a chef or cook than anyone else and I am NOT a professional chef...but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express once...

    I am making my turkey breast simply for lunch-meat initially, but now I'm thinking maybe I should slice some thicker for dinners too.

    Here's an idea, and you will not see this on a site like this very often...Microwave! Yep, a very useful device for re-heating foods that I hardly ever use as a primary cooking source, but as a re-heating tool it is unmatched for time and simplicity. You can heat a plate of something very quickly and if you do it right, it's a great way to re-heat food. We have one of those vented collapsible plate covers that works wonders on a dinner plate. BUT...you have to know what you are doing, know your microwave and know how to not overheat stuff. You can even revive leftover takeout Chinese food rice really well if you learn about it and practice it.

    The puritans in here just spit up a little in their mouths and found a new dislike for me...I'm sure.

    My feedback touches on the suggestions above too.

    Jimmy has the traditional method. Tried and true. It's the basis of old school frozen entrees; only not frozen in this case. Using broth to keep the slices moist if you don't want to pre-gravy the meat.This is a chef's trick from way back and my guess is Jimmy has a lot of experience feeding crowds and may even do some catering. Cover with foil or a lid in a pan and "slow and low" like Jimmy says. That's why he said 300-325. You could do it faster but it will make the breast tougher the faster you bake it. You want to ease the temp up gently.

    Same thing in the microwave. Slow and low and no foil! Cover with plastic wrap, slightly vented, or if the pan you are using is microwaveable with a microwaveable cover, use that. A microwave will heat the edges more, so if you do this on a large portion, stop halfway and move all the meat from the edges of the pan to the middle and vice-versa and spoon or use a baster bulb to re-distribute the broth too. Allow the microwaved pan of meat to rest responsibly like you would a roast, covered, for a good ten minutes, in the microwave, to allow the heat to distribute evenly. Heat only till just hot, not piping hot...or that will toughen the meat just like baking at too high a temp.

    The traditional oven method allows you to apply gravy in a nice fashion though, without re-positioning the meat and messing up that beautiful gravy layer on top.

    The method Seige suggested is cool too. It's a take on sou vide (Google it if you've never heard of it). If you have a food saver, this is a good way of looking at things. If you don't have a food saver...why don't you?!!!! You can keep meats even for years in some cases in the freezer with a properly done food saver package.

    You can use the microwave with food saver packages too! ("There Chef K-Dude goes with that stupid microwave again!"), but the hot water method is more foolproof. You are out of time now, but an ideal way to use the slow cooker would be to do a test-run with the cooker with just water and record what the temps are at each holding temp setting (low-med-high). I did this with a mini slow cooker hoping I could do slow poached eggs with it, but sadly low on that thing was above 145...a nod to the food safety police which you will find very active in here keeping you from yourself, making yourself sick and blaming the website on it.

    Slow poached eggs FYI:

    http://momofukufor2.com/2010/01/slow-poached-eggs/  (in case the link police strike that, google it...information is a "cat out of the bag" these days)

    So with the slow cooker, if you find, say..."medium" holds water at exactly 160°, then that is "theoretically" perfect for Seige's method of taking that turkey in properly sealed food saver bags and covering with water and setting on low and leaving for church on Sunday morning (Or whatever else you might have planned on Easter Sunday mornings!). But! I would leave the packaged meat out of the slow cooker at first (just have the water hot when you get home) and in the fridge till you get home, then allow the foodsavered packaged meat to rest at room temp for maybe 15 minutes, then plop in the 160° pre-heated water till hot. A that point, the meat is ready to eat cold coming out of the fridge anyway, all you are doing is warming it. You can keep it in that 160° water till you are ready to serve.

    sou vide holds foods at exact temps until ready to serve. You can take a slice of roast beef and keep it medium for hours. Some of the finest high volume restaurants do this and you never know about it. The "microbe police" might argue about this...and food safety is always first on a web site or any public place that gives advice because they dont know if you are doing things "exactly" at home...just like with canning foods or any other recipe; people will report problems, but when you dig down, they haven't followed instructions "exactly" to a "Tee". Cross-contamination is one of  the biggest food borne illness problems, and that has nothing to do with cooking and holding temps usually. People have no idea that washing a chicken for instance actually spreads more bacteria than anything as tiny droplets splash for FEET around the sink...it's actually better to NOT wash poultry or any other meat unless there is debris, brine or a coating that needs to come off...or you have dropped it on the floor! It's hard to get it in the head to go straight from the package to the prep though...it took me years to get that "washing meat" BS out of my head.

    How do I know this about sou vide, etc.? I am a metal fabricator. I worked in a shop years ago that made the prototype for Vie de France's facility in Alexandria, VA. I saw the testing and refining of the sou vide tanks and worked on them as they tweaked them to hold various foods at different temperatures. It was a science. We also made prototype vertical electric smokers (think "industrial version of the masterbuilt units) for entrepreneurs including the late Wilbur Hardee, the founder of Hardees.

    Back to the microwave...I use the food saver for a lot of stuff and find the packages hold up to microwaves very well. In fact you can cook stuff to mush like the slow cooker or pressure cooker if you aren't careful and they usually wont explode. I make my own boudin (and have the recipe really close to perfect "real south Louisiana boudin") and seal in food saver packs. Once thawed, all I have to do is hit them in the microwave until just hot enough to enjoy, and BAM! (as Emeril would say) I'm sucking good boudin from the casing!

    So thanks to your question Famous, I will be testing my slow cooker and considering portioning some thicker slices of turkey breast for dinners to heat this way...and thanks to Seige for the hybrid idea going right to "sou vide".

    Or I might just microwave them! But! Still, slow and low would be the key on meats like turkey, even in a food saver bag.

    So, back to the basics:

    While the slow cooker may work, you wont know what temps you are heating to while you are gone and that's where the food-borne illness or turning the meat to "mush" might happen. If you get the meat to "mush" you probably wont have food borne illness because it got hot enough. But, holding the meat from cold to just at 160° for hours on-end, could grow "Herman the Vermin" like Jimmy said. Using sou vide, that doesn't happen, but still best to bring the water temp up first rather than start from cold, then drop the packages in when the water is hot.

    I think the best time to cut and portion the turkey breast for dinner thick slices is right after resting. This is a good time to foodsaver for that kind of portion cuts too.

    I think I will do that with one side of the breast of mine, then I will refrigerate the other half for thinner slices for lunch-meat. Meat slices better on an electric food slicer much easier after refrigeration when it is cold and "set-up". This is partially why many folks will tell you to refrigerate a pastrami smoke before thin slicing, but you can eat it after resting right out of the box...but plan on slicing it thicker...usually...if it will even stay together without crumbling.

    Let us know how you did Famous!
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2016
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    A Microwave is a great tool but you need to know how to use it and it's limitations. Can you Nuke a raw chicken start to finish and get golden brown crispy skin? No! For cooking Vegetable, precise controled warming and reheating high moisture foods. They are great. Microwave ovens have a bad rep beacuse most folks use only one mode...Full Power for X minutes. This can destroy the texture and flavor of meat, Jerky on the edges and cold in the center! But lower the power, which cycles the unit on and off, heating more slowly and they work very well...

    Sous Vide is Safe because it takes advantage of the principles of Pasteurization. While Bacteria is killed instantly at 165°F, they are also killed at lower temps like 130°F if held at that temp for 113 minutes. The KEY is the meat or whatever has to get to 130°F quickly. If the meat is Intact there is no issue as the circulating hot water gets the surface up to temp fast. Can you Sous Vide a 15 pound Injected Brisket or a 10 pound Meat Loaf? Not without good Medical Insurance!...JJ
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2016
    chef k-dude likes this.
  6. Solid roundup and fill-in on the microwave and Sous Vide and a gentle correction on my spelling. I was leaving the S of of "Sous".

    Sous being translated as "Under" which is the basis of "Sous Chef" or "Under-Chef", meaning "subordinate or assistant or second in charge".

    "Sous Vide" meaning "under vacuum".

    I love learning and getting it right.

    So my advice on pre-heating the water to 160° BEFORE adding the product (if you know that's what the temp is on a particular setting of the slow cooker) for re-heating pre-cooked turkey breast IN A VACUUM BAG like foodsaver is good?

    Also, in my fading memory of years gone by, observing the Vie de France Chefs as we developed those Sous Vide tanks; most, if not all of the meat was pre-cooked to some degree. I dont recall specifically any raw meat being sous vide but they may have. When they came to the shop, they had already cryovac'ed the food and brought it in a Cambro box. I would imagine even vegetables were blanched.

    Do you know Jimmy? I ask, because I would be interested in Foodsavering raw meat or at least blanched vegetables from the summer harvest, pre-seasoned for fast meals later. Dang...another distraction form the stuff I need to be doing! I'll be off in the weeds researching this now....


    I am smoking my turkey breast today. I'll do a Q-View and link to it here. I decided to do a Cajun Rub on it to keep it simple because I already had the rub made and on the shelf.

    Show us yours! (OK, that didn't sound right...but you all know what I mean!)
  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member


    So my advice on pre-heating the water to 160° BEFORE adding the product (if you know that's what the temp is on a particular setting of the slow cooker) for re-heating pre-cooked turkey breast IN A VACUUM BAG like foodsaver is good?

    Yes and No...The key to Sous Vide being safe is Circulation. That moving heated water is constantly supplying fresh energy to heat the product. Like many things we do that walk the line between safe and sorry, shooting hundreds of rounds with a handgun, crossing a busy street in the middle of the block, Sous Vide is safe if using the right equipment and exercising great care from beginning to end of the process. A Slow Cooker is not a Sous Vide machine and it is really not a good idea to use a slow cooker as one. We as observers have no way of knowing how the meat to be reheated was handled. Was the meat handled properly and cooked to a safe IT to start with? Was there any possibility of cross contamination with bacteria before Vac-bagging? Were the packs filled in a manner that resulted in rapid cooling? Is the operator trying to reheat 5 pounds of meat in a 2 Quart Slow Cooker? So, is advising members to use a Slow Cooker at 160°F a good idea? We would have to ASSUME a lot was absolutely done properly and safely. There is a reason there is a very common caution about Assumptions and Crock Pot manufacturers do not call them Sous Vide machines![​IMG]

    I do not have a lot of experience with Sous Vide. I understand how they work and know that it is safe to sous vide raw meat. All the work I have done and seen with the process was a marinade was added to raw meat and vac sealed for quick infusion, placed in the sous vide machine to precook and tenderize the meat and then the meat was seared before service to give the expected look, color and flavor. The purpose of Blanching Vegetable before freezing is to the set the color and destroy enzymes that would cause frozen veg to turn mushy. I learned that lesson the hard way. Before I knew better, I bought, shucked and froze a bushel of summer Sweet Corn, farm to freezer. Some months later and in great anticipation, pulled a bag of corn and cooked it in simmering seasoned water. What did not disintegrate in the pot had a most foul taste! In any event, I would not think the Low and Slow advantage of Sous Vide cooking will result in fresh tasting tender crisp Vegetables at a later date...[​IMG]  BTW...I didn't even notice your misspelling. Having some vision issues my brain often corrects spelling when I read and allows me to misspell as I type. I love Spell Check!...JJ
  8. Absolutely correct. Sous Vide does in fact use and require circulation.

    I was only suggesting that Siege's idea was not way off base and backing that up with info the thread starter may not know about. However, his (Siege) idea was a "pot of water" and usually there is some movement there...even if I were using a crock pot I would be poking and prodding those package as a natural reflex in a “cooking or re-heating 101 instinct”.

    Even with my research in to slow poached eggs, I was also looking in to circulation, although not absolutely necessary. A real immersion cooker ain't cheap, and even doing a DIY version gets clunky, obtrusive, unwieldy and quite "spendy". So I just stick with soft boiled eggs! Real easy, real fast! And I’m not freaked out by raw-ish eggs. My immune system is not compromised and if one does the real research as opposed to listening to the “Chicken Little’s” in life, one will find that for the “average” person, the chance of sickness from a raw egg is about 1 in over 80 years of life. Most people cook eggs, so that is even reduced more. You have a better chance of being in a car crash going to the store for the eggs.

    I also eat Sushi (made at home too), tartar and rare to medium rare steak as well as "medium" hamburgers.

    The food safety thing has been a total buzz kill here. I realize we never know who and at what intelligence level the people we may be "advising" are, but at every turn it seems I run in to this on cooking web sites. The average schmuck out there often makes themselves sick at home more than eating out (unless they never cook at home), so I get that. Is there not a disclaimer when joining this web site that holds the site and users harmless to someone using advice here and getting sick at home?

    Like you wrote Jimmy, we don’t know how people are doing things at home, so all the abundance of caution about cooking temps and times, etc. can be a total waste if someone is not knowledgeable enough to know that if they 'grazed" the countertop with that raw chicken BEFORE cooking it, didn't realize it, then sat their salad lettuce in the same spot before chopping; they have just contaminated everyone's salad. Cross contamination is a huge issue and properly cooked meat won’t fix that. I am obsessive about surface, utensil and hand cleanliness at home, but it’s automatic and hard to even notice if you watch me cook. It becomes a way of life and should for everyone. "Life 101".

    I am beginning to give up on cooking sites because of this. If I continue, I think it will be just basic recipes because it seems everywhere I go, the fun of cooking is spoiled by people who are obsessed with food safety (not meant toward you Jimmy, I mean overall). It's no small issue, but its basics...basics that come before recipes. The assumption should be that people know these basics, and if they don’t it's "use this info at their own risk”...kind of like welding instruction...I can show you how to weld, but I cant keep you from shocking the shiznit out of yourself!

    I have pictures and narratives from a handful of smokes and other cooking, etc. But I dont think I'll spend my time building those threads now that I think of it.

    And Jimmy, I totally like me some spell check...but it makes me look really stupid sometimes if I'm not careful! The spell check on this web site is often terrible for its suggestions...not intuitive at all, one has to really pay attention. They haven't invented "stupid check" yet...so I'm still vulnerable!

    and Famous,

    My Turkey breast came out fantastic! I used a Cajun rub (I make at home), no brine, and it is perfect.

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