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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.

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Old 10-27-2010, 08:28 PM   #1
Knows what a fatty is.
tmkshew's Avatar
Join Date: 01-09-10
Location: Baltimore, MD
Default Need Help with Smoking a Turkey for the first time!

I come you with questions once again Brethren!

I am 23 and still finding my notch sort-a-speak.

My Uncle asked if I wanted to take over the Turkey for Thanksgiving this year.
Of course I said YES.
However, I've never smoked one before and I was wondering if you guys could help me out.

I want your best brine and your best rub!
Also, I have an abundance of Cherry Wood.

Would that work good with Turkey?
Seems great with Chicken. Let me know what kind of wood you would recommend if different than Cherry.

In case you didn't pick up on it, I'm going to do a few trial runs before I do the actual Turkey...

Any and all help is welcomed and appreciated. I'll be sure to let you guys know how everything goes.
UGLY DRUM SMOKER, 22.5" Weber OneTouch Gold, 18.5" WSM (Weber Smokey Mountain)
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Old 10-27-2010, 09:54 PM   #3
somebody shut me the fark up.

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Join Date: 06-05-09
Location: Mooresville, IN

There's a kazillion different ways to brine. From very simple to mucho ingredients. My first turkey brine was ultra complex. Couldn't tell you if it really made all that much difference or not (all those ingredients I mean). Since, I've brined turkeys and chickens a PLENTY and I keep it real simple now. I'll add about a cup of salt and about 3/4 cup of sugar and then whatever else I think I want to fart with to about a gallon of water. IMO, the salt is the only KEY ingredient to a brine. After all, the salt is what does the work of the brine. I add sugar (or a variation thereof, like say, maple syrup, molasses, honey, fresh otrange juice, etc) because in my way of thinking, once the salt extracts the moisture from the meat, then whatever ELSE is in the brine will also be drawn back INTO the meat. So I'm of the opinion that some sugar will add some sweetness to the meat.

SO.....add whatever it is that you want to your brine, then stir it all up good to dissolve. Add the bird, then top off the liquid (if necessary) until Tom is completely submerged. In past years I've used a 5 gal bucket, washed out well, then lined with a kitchen trash bag. Place in fridge for 18-24 hours. When ready to smoke, remove the bird from the brine, RINSE THOROUGHLY and then add whatever rub, or other seasonings your going to use.

If you've got the time, leave the bird in the fridge on a platter so the skin will have a chance to firm back up and get some of the moisture out. This will allow for crispier skin. Many times I've skipped this step (usually due to me being behind) but if at all possible, this is important.

Let the bird come to room temp on the counter while you fire the smoker (not unlike other roasts that you've smoked). HINT: Place a freezer bag full of ice on top of the breasts during this process. This will help keep the breast from overcooking, because the breast meat will be a LOT colder when you put the bird on the smoke, which will make it about 1/2h or so behind the rest of the bird during the cook. Get it?

I like to stuff the bird with a whole onion (cut in half) and some citrus, like a lemon and an orange (both halved). This will impart yumminess and moisture to the meat from the inside as the onion and citrus steam during the cook. could get you one of these:
I have 2. They work GREAT! It's basically a way to do sort of a "beer can turkey" but still being able to fit the bird on a kettle (for instance) or UDS and still get the lid on. Not essential, but another cool trick.

I also prefer to truss the bird. This will help it all cook as ONE piece of meat, and will also prevent the wings and legs from drying out. Trussing basically just involves tying the legs and wings snuggly against the body of the bird. Google "trussing a turkey" for help on this.

Fruitwood works great with any poultry. Cherry is my personal favorite. Or apple. You've got cherry, so you're golden.

I typically do all my poultry at 325-350 degrees until the breast is about 165. If you iced your breasts prior to cooking, hopefully the breast and thigh will be around the same temp.

If along the cook, you think it's getting too dark, foil. As with any smoke.....more smoke=darker. I usually have good smoke at the beginning of the cook and then not so much later.

I want to say that a 12 lb turkey will take around 3-3.5 hours, but I'm guessing. When done, let it rest before carving.

If you google "smoked turkey recipe", you'll be reading for days. I did this a few years ago and I've still got at least a dozen of the recipes that jumped out at me printed and in the drawer.

I love smoked turkey. My family will simply not allow me to prepare a turkey any other way but smoked. (not that I'd WANT to cook one any other way) They always turn out GREAT! Unbelievable flavor.

Here's last year's:

Good luck to ya man!
Big JT's Smokin' BBQ Competition Team

"Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ."
-Mahatma Gandhi
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Thanks from: --->
Old 10-27-2010, 10:17 PM   #4
Found some matches.
Join Date: 05-20-10
Location: Kalona Iowa

Wampus +1
I have only done a couple, Brine 24 Hours,Gallon of water 1 cup salt, 1 cup Sugar, and the what ever flavors I could find. smoked @ 250 untill near done & then took up to 300+ to crisp up skin. They turned out great. Left overs make great samichs & soup stock

Go for it
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:25 PM   #5
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What are you cooking it on?

For the best brine and the best rub recipe ever, and I mean EVER hands down without a doubt your family will let you sleep in the big bed after thanksgiving I'm talking the best of the best nothing is even a close second... click here...
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:27 PM   #6
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This is my 1st time doin a Thanksgiving turkey too.I asked some questions here and I think this is the method im goin to use.I dont have a egg but I think my drum smoker will do the trick.(Im gonna brine my turkey though)
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:28 PM   #7
Found some matches.
Join Date: 05-20-10
Location: Kalona Iowa

Mad a UDS this sprin & Loving it
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:35 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by BIGBrandon2785 View Post
This is my 1st time doin a Thanksgiving turkey too.I asked some questions here and I think this is the method im goin to use.I dont have a egg but I think my drum smoker will do the trick.(Im gonna brine my turkey though)
Great recipe. I use that and only mod I make is I inject creole butter till it eint take any more.
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:36 PM   #9
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Location: Omaha, NE

I won't be smokin a turkey this year (though I've done several) I'm duin a test run on a "spatchcock" turkey. Cutting the back out and cooking it flat on the grill. I'm marinating it in 1 c honey, 1 c apple cider, 1 c Dew as we speak - and enough water to cover it in a stock pot with 2 gal bag liner. (The turkey already has been injected with seasoning & stock so I didn't want to add any salt.) I will also change the brine every 24 hrs until Sat AM. It's game day, donchaknow.

When I do it on the grill, it will be as I do chicken. That is, fairly hot fire - perhaps 350 degrees (indirect) - grill the first side skin down til it is golden brown > then turn it over (ribs down) until the internal breast temp is 165. I will then put the bird in an aluminum pan, cover it in foil for 20 min before serving.

For seasoning, I will do this one half n half. Half the bird will get McCormick's Salmon Seasoning (my favorite for all meats) and the other half will be one I need to make up with a good dose of chili powder, paprika, Old Bay Seasoning & a little Cayenne with a focus on very little salt (since it has already been seasoned.)

My family has a certain tradition that the Thanksgiving meal MUST taste a certain way and this ain't it. So, whatever I do will be in-addition-to the tradition.
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Old 10-28-2010, 08:54 AM   #10
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Join Date: 06-02-08
Location: Knoxville, TN

I like to spatch my birds (chickens n turkeys)

I don't do anything real fancy with brine or seasoning and it turns out great.
Life's a party with a Backwoods Party!
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:03 AM   #11
somebody shut me the fark up.

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Location: San Antonio, TX

Wampus nailed it!

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Old 10-28-2010, 11:18 AM   #12
early mornin' smokin'
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wampus is right! I like my brine to be about 1 1/2 cups kosher to a cup of sugar in the raw, heat up with about 3-4 cups of water and than add to a gallon. This makes sure the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Than i add some citrus, lemons and oranges, cup or 2 of good ol' Jack daniels, or captain morgan. Bay leaf or 2, apple cider, and that's about it. Mad max method works great for the breast. Definitely truss your birdie, and keep it in the sub 15lb range imho. Use the smokey mountain, dry water pan. Disposable pan of white wine and chicken broth, onions, carrots and celery underneath the bird on the top rack to collect drippings for gravy. 350 degrees til the breast hits about 160-165.
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:44 AM   #13
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I did one a few years ago when my fil was fighting cancer. He could not have anything with salt so i brined the bird in apple cider and maple syrup(enough apple cider to cover and two cups syrup). the bird came out great very moist even after sitting on table when eating. I used cherry wood to
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:23 PM   #14
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Hey man check this video out. I'm thinking of going this route for thanksgiving.
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:26 PM   #15
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Also I have used this brine and it's awesome, actually won a turkey cook-off.
Weber Lover -- (2)Weber 18' Kettles, 22.5 Weber Kettle, 22.5 WSM
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Cherry wood, chicken, Grill, grilling, smoke, Smoking, Thanksgiving, turkey, wood

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