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Fillmore Farmer
12-14-2015, 01:34 AM
So I took advantage of post TK-day pricing and bought me a whole bunch of turkeys for cheap. Most these birds were upwards of 26 pounds but at $15/each it seemed like a good idea to stock-up the freezer.

So over the last month I've been trying to perfect a turkey recipe. I borrowed most my recipe out of a book and some videos on YouTube but here's the approach:

Brine turkey for 3 full days in frig....1-cup salt, 1.5-cup brown sugar, lots of seasoning. Stir/agitate twice each day. I don't think you can over-brine, my buddy goes a full 5 days and his turkey is great.

Pull from brine, pat dry. I then Spatchcock (Butterfly) the bird. I do something daring: I remove the skin! Why? Because a smoker gives rubbery skin and everyone I know doesn't eat the skin for health purposes so I wanted to build a bark right on the meat! I baste heavily with oil/butter and apply rub. I also injected with unsalted sweet butter, olive oil and seasoning.

Into the smoker, with cherry wood, at 265F and start basting/spraying after an hour. Once the breast turn brown I cover with foil. It took about 3 hours but out came the most moist, succulent and delicious turkey I've ever had!!!!

So proud was I that I invited 5 friends to buy turkeys and come over for what I called my first annual Turkey Cook.

Despite my having made my own turkey several times, the results were disappointing. We all followed the same recipe but cook time was MUCH longer. The Vault was at 265F but instead of 3 hours it took over 5 hours to get the smallest turkey up to 165F...all that cook time, despite basting/spraying, resulted in drier meat...nothing like the super-moist stuff I made on my own. I mean, the guys were happy and it was good...but not great..I was a bit embarrassed and found myself apologizing.:roll:

So what's the deal with cooking in bulk? I thought I had read that when you have more briskets in the smoker the results are generally better? Also, if the smoker was at 265F and it maintained that, then why did it take almost twice as long to cook all these birds????

One other thing I realized is that with all these big birds butterflied I had the racks REALLY full....we loaded 2 birds on each rack and filled 3 whole racks. The top rack didn't have enough clearance to the top of the smoker and I let the bottom rack hold 2 huge water pans full of water...but yeah, those 3 racks were like 92% packed so heat flow may have been impaired. When we opened the door the whole Vault appeared full of smoke everywhere.

I'm just kinda baffled here. I understand I went from 25 pounds of meat to 200 pounds of meat so there was more mass to heat-up...but doing a 25# bird alone took me about 3 hours and on this day my bird was the biggest at 28# and it took nearly 7 hours.....by the time the heat managed to get to 165F deep inside the breast, the outer meat was dry, over-cooked and just overly exposed to heat/time. Based on this I'm thinking I should really stick with sub-20# birds, these BIG birds are the birds that nobody buys because experienced chefs know better and only suckers who think they're getting big value pop for these jolly giants!

I mean, tell me it ain't true...how you gonna get enough heat deep into the center of a thick breast without over-doing the outer meat? I think the lesson learned it to stick with smaller birds, keep it under 23# or even 20#

But yeah, anyone have any thoughts on why doing more meat takes dramatically longer if you still maintain the same temp? Any thoughts or insight would be appreciated.

On another note, it was really fun getting a whole bunch of guys together to do a group smoking and everyone went home with some good meat for their families. Results were fair to good but I was shooting for amazing (aren't we all?) :rolleyes:

I've included pics of turkeys loaded into my trunk, ingredients for the brine (salt & sugar not shown), my BBQ area and the Vault. Sorry, no pics of the birds on racks or in smoker...or finished product. I promise more in future!

Smoke Dawg
12-14-2015, 05:52 AM
Looks like you have answered most of your questions.

I leave the skin on and hang them. Can always remove the skin after the cook. I inject the brine and also soak in brine but make sure all the injection holes are on top when the bird is hanging. I try to get birds in the 15-20 pound range and as close in size to keep the cook time the same. Not sure why the cook time would increase soo much?

You have a great cooking area !


Couple pictures of hanging birds

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IamMadMan
12-14-2015, 11:16 AM
Nice Job.....

Fillmore Farmer
12-14-2015, 02:06 PM
Looks like you have answered most of your questions. Yeah, I'm just throwing-out my thoughts to see if anyone can add to them

I leave the skin on and hang them. Can always remove the skin after the cook. I inject the brine and also soak in brine but make sure all the injection holes are on top when the bird is hanging. I try to get birds in the 15-20 pound range and as close in size to keep the cook time the same. Not sure why the cook time would increase soo much?

Yeah, I tried taking the skin off about half-way through and that worked great, it allowed a nice bark to build on the meat itself. I then tried taking the skin off from the get-go and it also was fine....but this was a 16# bird so it cooked faster and once the breast looked good I foiled.

I think the mistake was the bird, pushing 28# is just too big; by the time the deepest part hits 165F the outer parts of just over-cooked, or so it seems

You have a great cooking area ! Thanks, a LOT of work in the making but I do enjoy it!! :tsk:

pal156
12-14-2015, 09:00 PM
Nice :thumb:

MeatCandy
12-14-2015, 09:50 PM
Sounds over loaded...crank up the temps and rotate the racks every hour or so...

I like to cook my birds 300+

Looks like a fun cook...

Fillmore Farmer
12-15-2015, 12:30 AM
Sounds over loaded...crank up the temps and rotate the racks every hour or so...

I like to cook my birds 300+

Agreed.....I also had those racks way too full, not enough open area to allow heat/air movement. Next time I'll use the internal water reservoir (instead of putting 2 large pans on one rack) and spread parts over 5 racks instead of overloading 3 racks. Rotate racks every hour and never again buy birds over 20#....these 28# behemoths are for suckers!

ShadowDriver
12-15-2015, 02:41 AM
Enjoyed reading about your recipe / technique... sorry that it didn't go as planned when you had friends over to enjoy the same experience.

Hope you'll give it another go over the Holidays and see if folks'll come back with smaller birds. Sounds like you've got most of it ironed out and ready for a second attempt.

I'd probably just ply 'em with more beer and wine and they won't complain too much. :-P