Yuummmmm-ooooo Smoked Turkey

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by smoke_chef, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. smoke_chef

    smoke_chef Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I think Smoked Turkey is yummm-ooooo! It's my second favorite food to eat smoked. Second only to ribs of course. Plus, as far as fun and easy... I don't think you can beat the turkey for those categories. I've read many times "I'm new to smoking. What should I smoke first?" Well, in my opinion we should all being telling those folks there is no question about it. Smoke a turkey! Why? Glad you asked. If you're new to smoking, what's the number one hardest thing to do right? You said it... control your fire. Well, when you smoke a turkey you pretty much don't have to control your fire. You can basically let it scream. Shot, most say it's perfectly okay to smoke at 350 degrees. I know there are a lot of different types of smokers out there so this doesn't hold true for everyone... but for my Brinkman... I have hard time getting it up to 350. (Using the water pan of course) I would guess... and you guys speak up... but I would guess that all water pan smokers are pretty much the same as far as temps go? From what I understand, it's that water evaporating that's keeping the air moist and the temps a little more steady? Any way... the point is, I think for someone new to smoking, it's easier to have a hot fire than to keep one at 225 for a sustained period. Reason two, poultry seems to absorb the smoke flavor much easier than pork and certainly more so than beef? Agree? disagree? So, a new person could relax a little and not fill like they have to have rolling smoke (you never want that btw) Reason three, it's a pretty cheap meat to learn with. Reason four, just read some posts about how to brine and I don't think you could mess one up. I think it's more forgiving that a lot of things... Pork butt included. Reason five... it's not a long smoke. If you are new to this, it may be to nerve racking and stressful to invest 10 or 12 hours in a product that you may or may not be happy with. The turkey I smoked this weekend was 15 pounds and it was done in four hours maintaining about 325 most of the way. Finally. reason six... and the main one.. it tastes sooooo good!

    Okay... why not chickens you ask. Well, you raise a good point. Many of the reason above apply. Cheap. Just as easy. Would take even less time. But... I don't like the flavor as well. Plus, with a turkey... you get all the great reasons above plus enough meat to feed a crowd or have lots of leftovers... so the turkey gets my vote on volume alone.

    Now.. on to the turkey below in case you are still reading and are interested:
    1. I always always always brine. I use one full cup of salt, heaping palm full of garlic powder, heaping palm full of onion powder, heaping palm full of black pepper, and about a half palm full of cayenne pepper. I put just enough water in the pan to cover all the above ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil so that the salt dissolves and everything gets a chance to know each other. Once it comes to a boil, I take it off the heat and let it cool down or add ice what ever. The point is to make sure it's not hot at all when you put the bird in it. Even stick it in the fridge for a while. You don't want this in any way to bring the temp of the bird up. (Remember the danger zone 40 - 140) Okay, after it has completely cooled put the bird in. Then add enough water to the container to completely cover the bird. Make sure the inside cavity gets filled. You may have to put something on it to help hold it under. You want the whole bird to stay submerged during the brine period. This reads like a lot of trouble but it really isn't and it is TOTALLY worth it! Let the bird brine over night. I usually shoot for 12 hours. Up to 24 hours even but I wouldn't go longer than that. Variations... I have used OJ instead of water. That worked but adds to the cost and I didn't think it was worth it. I have added considerably more cayenne and I loved it but you have to think about who your audience is. I have used fresh onion, jalapeños, garlic but didn't think they penetrated the meat as well? Change up the brine how ever you want... just remember that a very salty liquid mixture is the key. Someone on here can explain the science behind that I'm sure. I just know it's important to my end product.
    2. Remove from the brine. Pat dry. For the rub, I use what I call my republican rub. Which is equal parts Garlic powder, Onion powder, and Pepper (black). See... G.O.P. Plus, it's simple, straight forward and get the job done. That's why I call it my Republican Dry Rub. Any way, I mix up the run and softened butter. Use your hand to work as much as you can under the skin everywhere you can get to. Come on now... not like a sissy. Gently... but forcefully work your fingers between the skin and meat. Careful not to break the skin... but get your hand down in there. Make room for that spiced butter. Okay, now coat the outside as well as you can. I have also added cayenne to this. I have also slipped slices of fresh garlic, onion, and jalapeños under the skin and left them there for the whole cook. I freaking loved it. This is especially good over the breasts. But, that will really get the flavor to penetrate the meat so again… know your audience.
    3. I think this is important.... I use a rack for beer can chicken... only I don't use the beer can. I think the beer would evaporate before the turkey was done? In any case, I don't want the can there. The rack holds the bottom of the turkey open allowing heat and smoke to fill the cavity of the bird. To help this concept I plug the neck cavity of the bird with a wedge of onion, potato, or apple. Any thing that will help block the heat and smoke from escaping.
    4. Make sure you smoker is evened out somewhere between 275 and 350. Poultry does not benefit from "low and slow". Remember you want it our of the danger zone as much as possible. (40 - 140) So, the smoker is ready.. the turkey is prepped. Put it in there. Cooking time, like everything else, is going to vary but you want the breast to be no less that 165. I usually shoot for 170. As you can see below, the turkey I bought this time had one of those pop out thingys. I leave that in. I figure it's a good back up sort of checks and balances thing. But, if your turkey doesn't have it. A good ol meat thermometer works fine all by itself.
    5. When your bird reaches the temp you are looking for. Pull it out. Wrap with tin foil and place in a cooler. Cover with towels. Let the bird rest there at least 30 minutes. I left this one in for an hour and half waiting on guests and it was still to hot to handle with bare hands.
    6. Carve and enjoy!
  2. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Very nice post.
    I agree with most of the turkey recommendations, especially the brine. I always brine every piece of poultry I cook no matter how I cook it.
    For a first smoke or someone getting used to smoking I would actually recommend turkey legs as they are a bit easier to control (since a whole turkey has so many different sections to bring to temp) or a fattie, boneless ribs or butt, in my experience I have found those are some of the easiest things to smoke (though besides the legs they all do need a bit better eye kept on the temps, poultry is very forgiving and definitely does benefit form higher smoke temps) With poultry you want to cook higher with temp and smoke as opposed to low and slow, but if you don't eat the skin and just rip it off 225-250 will work just fine.
    Never added the peppers or garlic under the turkey skin but that is definitely something I am going to try now.
    I always leave the pop up timer in sinc eit handles heat fine and only leaves a hole for the juices to leak out if you remove it, just never go by those things, remember folks-go by temp and not time.
    Great post Smoke Chef, pictures are great, especially those legs...they look delicious.
    Points for a very informative and helpful post.
  3. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I grill/smoke em 340-360 myself.Personal preference.

    I do not brine-not diabetic either-but i do believe smoked turkey-brined or not- is truley a gift.....

    Points for the passion.
  4. gruelurks

    gruelurks Smoking Fanatic

    I've done a few turkey legs since I bought my smoker, and am working up to a whole bird soon. Those pics just make me want to go to Kroger right now and get one to brine and smoke.
  5. herkysprings

    herkysprings Smoking Fanatic

    I read somewhere that a good test to see if your brine has enough salt, is to drop an uncooked egg in it. If it floats its good enough.

    It wont help for too much salt tho ;)
  6. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That is one fine looking turkey there chef. Very nice job. [​IMG]definally I'm wondering if I have one in the freezer.

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