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The Turkey Thread


kevwun

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I have a 25 pound beast for Thanksgiving and am thinking about smoking it.  Assuming I spatchcock it and inject it, how long do you think it will take at 275-300?  Drumsticks towards the firebox I am assuming and what internal temp should I shoot for?

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that would not be something i'd be willing to risk as a first-timer with guests coming.  something you should do in advance as a trial run where if it fucks up you aren't out anything.  you don't want to be ordering domino's on thanksgiving because your turkey didn't turn out.   is moister in the oven anyway.  smoker makes it dry AF.

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Your bird is too big.  I smoke 14 pounders or so.  I brine them for a couple of days.  Then, take it out to let it dry in the fridge for a day.  Then I sprinkle with any number of seasoning blends (light on the salt, because it's already brined), put it in a foil roasting pan, and smoke it at about 325 for a few hours.  You don't want it to get too dark. A 25 pound bird, you're going to have to cook for a long time, and it WILL dry out.

And yes, do a trial run.  I'm actually thinking about doing a trial run this weekend, because it's been a while since I've done one, and I want to get it down pat.

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I regularly do birds in the 20 -23 lb range for turkey day on the offset and I don't have a problem with it drying out. I do usually spatchcock it. I cook it hot (often 300+), drums toward the firebox as you've stated, watch for color and wrap when you get your color. Sometimes a wet cheesecloth over the tits. It's usually done in 2.5-3 hours. I'd plan on 3.5 to be safe. 

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23 minutes ago, kevwun said:

Thanks for the advice.  We'll do this one in the oven and I'll try a smaller one of the smoker at some point.  For future reference, is 160 in the breast the temp to shoot for?

USDA says 165, but you would get that high or close with carry over if you pull at 160. I will let others chime in on the wisdom of pulling lower.  Also, young children and the elderly are the ones that are going to get the most sick from any food illness.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/11/how-to-take-the-temperature-of-your-turkey-video.html

 

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Cook's Country grilled some turkey breasts in their last episode and we happened to watch it last night.  They pulled them at 160.  I feel pretty good about that temp being safe if the Test Kitchen went with it.

Edited by kevwun
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4 minutes ago, kevwun said:

Cook's Country grilled some turkey breasts in their last episode and we happened to watch it last night.  They pulled them at 160.  I feel pretty good about that temp being safe if the Test Kitchen went with it.

Also, and you may already know this, but the "classic" way of carving the breast you see in pictures from the 50's is not the best way and results in tougher, with the grain cut. Cutting the breast across the grain makes a massive difference, IMO.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/channels/how-to-carve-a-turkey

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9 hours ago, kevwun said:

Thanks for the advice.  We'll do this one in the oven and I'll try a smaller one of the smoker at some point.  For future reference, is 160 in the breast the temp to shoot for?

Fuck the haters man. You'll have no problems with a bird that big, don't let people scare you off. 

Yeah, 160 in the breast. Slightly higher in the thighs. You may want to put some bags of ice on the tits to try to get them to finish at the same time. 

23 lber. Was delicious. 

38553383086_ca0bba06ef_c.jpg

 

38577790362_b2d145444e_c.jpg

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We should probably properly define "spatchcocking". I call what I've done above spatchcocking but I don't think it really is. I think it's butteflying the bird and then smoking it. 

I believe proper spatchcocking involves cooking the bird direct over coals after butterflying. 

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I use the term spatchcocking to mean cutting out the backbone and butterflying the bird for a more even cook.  Last year I did Thanksgiving turkey  indirectly on a gas grill, I've done chickens in the oven, and I intend to doing a turkey this year with smoke on a kamado grill. 

Mainly I just like to throw around the term spatchcock. 

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32 minutes ago, Jerry Callo said:

I use the term spatchcocking to mean cutting out the backbone and butterflying the bird for a more even cook.  Last year I did Thanksgiving turkey  indirectly on a gas grill, I've done chickens in the oven, and I intend to doing a turkey this year with smoke on a kamado grill. 

Mainly I just like to throw around the term spatchcock. 

Same. 

Actually it appears that I'm wrong. When the method first got brought to the old site, I believe the cooking method was roasting over coals directly and there were a number of posters who cooked their birds like that annually who swore it was the juiciest bird they've ever cooked. So I assumed that spatchcock meant the butterflying in concert with the roasting direct over coals. Lots of references on the google though to spatchcock just meaning butterfly. 

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I hadn't really thought of the precise definition until you mentioned it upthread a couple posts. Like you, I've just used it interchangeably with "butterflying" without regard to the ultimate method  of cooking.  A couple definitions I see online mention "grilling" afterward, so maybe that really is part of it, but I think it works fine in the context of slow, indirect BBQ as well as grilling.  JMO.

 

Regardless, it's definitely my method for BBQing a bird on Tday. Every year my family smokes one and deep fries one.  I'm usually in charge of the BBQ since I have the best offset rig, and because my dad generally handles the deep fryer.

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On ‎11‎/‎8‎/‎2018 at 9:53 AM, Brisketexan said:

Your bird is too big.  I smoke 14 pounders or so.  I brine them for a couple of days.  Then, take it out to let it dry in the fridge for a day.  Then I sprinkle with any number of seasoning blends (light on the salt, because it's already brined), put it in a foil roasting pan, and smoke it at about 325 for a few hours.  You don't want it to get too dark. A 25 pound bird, you're going to have to cook for a long time, and it WILL dry out.

And yes, do a trial run.  I'm actually thinking about doing a trial run this weekend, because it's been a while since I've done one, and I want to get it down pat.

agree with all of this.  25 is waaaaaaaay too big for smoking.  Hell, it's too big for pretty much any preparation.  I try and stay 12-14 pounds, brine in gin, juniper berries and citrus for 2-3 days, smoke at 325 over cherry or peach for a few hours, try and get thighs to 160.  Oh, and I grind up a pack of bacon, with orange zest, sage, thyme and butter, and rub all that under the skin of the bird.  

Edited by pepper brooks
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Did a test run last weekend, pulled it when the temp seemed too high....and it wasn't done.  Seriously, we ate some of the outer part that was cooked, and the rest I just tossed in a pot to make stock and smoked turkey gumbo later (so, still a win).

It rained on me off and on, and my smoker isn't covered.  When it rains, it cools the steel, and my temp fluctuates a LOT.  And I had a hard time keeping the fire as I wanted it.  It was frustrating.  Last time I did it, it was so easy and turned out great.  Hopefully I got the challenging one out of the way before Thursday.

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On 11/8/2018 at 11:27 AM, Dr Fear said:

USDA says 165, but you would get that high or close with carry over if you pull at 160. I will let others chime in on the wisdom of pulling lower.  Also, young children and the elderly are the ones that are going to get the most sick from any food illness.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/11/how-to-take-the-temperature-of-your-turkey-video.html

 

Read that at 165 it kills everything instantly which is why the USDA recommends that temp.  155+ for at least 3 minutes kills everything also.

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25 minutes ago, Gil Bang said:

So the NYT says that the experts are abandoning brining.  

What say y'all?

Saw that article. I agree that brining is a bit of a pain in the ass. I'm going to try the dry brine that was mentioned in that article. Just rub a teaspoon of salt for every three lbs all over the breast and the thighs and let it sit in the fridge for a few days. added bonus of that is that you  it has less of a steaming effect. I'm going to spatchcock my 12.5lb turkey and cook indirect on my grill with charcoal and apple chunks. 

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23 minutes ago, BabaYaga said:

As stated:  BRINE!  

It's a game changer for those larger birds.  Just get a damn bucket from Lowes and do it.  Not that hard.  It's so damn cold @ night you can just leave in the garage or back porch overnight.  

Don't use a bucket from Lowes.  You need a "food safe" bucket.  I got one from a sandwich shop that originally had pickles in it. 

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I never brine. The turkeys are already injected with some 8% salt/water solution most of the time. My old boss brined 100% of the time. Hated the texture on those birds. 

I rather coat in butter and herbs, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning,  and then baste it with butter and drippings occasionally during the cook. 

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2 hours ago, Gil Bang said:

So the NYT says that the experts are abandoning brining.  

What say y'all?

Fuck the NYT. That’s what I say to that. 

A lot of people don’t understand it, but to hell with their bland food  

A lot of trending toward dry-brining lately, but I have always got amazingly consistent results with the handful of wet brine variations that I use on, well...everything. Except beef, of course.

I feel ALMOST as strongly pro-brine as my anti-beans-in-chili stance.  

 

Edited by After irth
And another thing...!
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4 minutes ago, After irth said:

Fuck the NYT. That’s what I say to that. 

A lot of people don’t understand it, but to hell with their bland food  

A lot of trending toward dry-brining lately, but I have always got amazingly consistent results with the handful of wet brine variations that I use on, well...everything. Except beef, of course.

I feel ALMOST as strongly pro-brine as my anti-beans-in-chili stance.  

 

The NYT gave us this...

merlin_143416878_62a82be1-3e63-4da2-ba43

 

So, you'll understand if I don't treat them as gospel.

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59 minutes ago, Uncle Nate said:

I never brine. The turkeys are already injected with some 8% salt/water solution most of the time. My old boss brined 100% of the time. Hated the texture on those birds. 

Which is why those of us that know what we’re doing with brining seek out unprocessed, untreated, natural birds. I prefer to control salinity, moisture, seasoning myself. 

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Just now, Brisketexan said:

The NYT gave us this...

merlin_143416878_62a82be1-3e63-4da2-ba43

 

So, you'll understand if I don't treat them as gospel.

Is that guacamole with peas?

seriouseats.com did a brining experiment and recommended dry brining as well. I’ve gotten a ton of great info from that site, so I’ll take their word for it.

Never brined and my turkey is never close to dry. Spatchcock for the win.

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More opinions from me.

You can cook a big bird on a smoker if you have the room. It's no problem and the results are no different in my opinion. I've done big and small.

 

Brine...I think a wet brine is overrated personally. I have not really noticed much of a difference between wet brined birds vs dry brined birds vs no brined birds. Fresh turkeys, no saline injection bullshit coming in. That said, I wet brine pretty much every Thanksgiving now because it's once a year, it's kind of ridiculous, and I'm all about going overboard. #hullabrine

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3 hours ago, bigcigar said:

Is that guacamole with peas?

seriouseats.com did a brining experiment and recommended dry brining as well. I’ve gotten a ton of great info from that site, so I’ll take their word for it.

Never brined and my turkey is never close to dry. Spatchcock for the win.

seriouseats also gave us this sous vide "smoked" brisket, so...

 

20160801-sous-vide-brisket-guide-35.jpg

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I haven't smoked turkey in about 5 years now. Deep fry them. Easy peasy. Inject, throw some Tony's all over it and let it ride in that hot oil for 3.5 minutes per pound (usually I get around a 12 lb. bird). I did 3 this morning (2 for my son's school and 1 for work function) and will do another 3 on thanksgiving. 

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14 hours ago, Gil Bang said:

Don't use a bucket from Lowes.  You need a "food safe" bucket.  I got one from a sandwich shop that originally had pickles in it. 

Meh, you can use a food-safe plastic liner if you are worried.  I've never had any issues going old school.  Unless you are adding a significant acid to the brine, petrochemicals leaching into the solution.  I've brined in ice chests, styrofoam, and even a rubbermaid chest and lived to tell the tale.... 

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