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Old 11-11-2018, 06:27 AM   #1
is one Smokin' Farker
Join Date: 03-27-15
Location: Mishawaka, IN
Default Smoking a Pre-Basted Turkey

Hello everyone. As has been the case for the last few years, I'm planning to smoke a bird or two (possibly 3) for Thanksgiving this year. We only have one turkey so far, which was given to my wife by her employer. However, when she brought it home, I noticed the packaging said it was already basted. The recipe I follow (Malcom Reed's) doesn't mention anything about this, but it calls for brining the turkey overnight. I don't think I want to do that with a turkey that has already been basted by the processor.

Does anyone have any input about this? It seems I've seen on other sites that a pre-basted turkey should not be brined. I'm assuming injecting is still okay, but not positive about that.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:44 AM   #2
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Go ahead and brine it. You can decrease the amount of salt in a brine recipe (half it) if the bird is enhanced. My results improved dramatically once I started brining before smoking turkeys.

Dry brined last year with Naturiffic Harvest Brine made by John (Sir Porkalot on this site) and it's fantastic and easy.
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:47 AM   #3
is one Smokin' Farker
Join Date: 03-27-15
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I hadn't thought of that... decreasing the salt content in the brine. I've had such good luck (and great feedback) when using the Malcom Reed method, that I hated the thought of deviating from it.
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:50 AM   #4
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Brining an Enhanced Turkey - When brining an enhanced turkey, many have said the result was just too salty, yet others have said that the brined bird was perfect.

Enhanced turkeys like Butterball are optimized to produce a moist bird. An 8% solution enhanced bird really means that 8% of the bird's total weight is water, (salt water). But 8% is not that salty and it is done primarily to insure that under normal conditions, the bird will remain moist when served.

It does not mean it will be tasty nor have a savory flavor. Brining, in and of itself, does not yield a tastier bird. If you soak a bird in water, it will absorb the water, just as it absorbs the brine. The salt aids in breaking down the proteins which makes the meat much more tender. The salt solution (brine) from the processor does not contain flavors like garlic, onion, rosemary, thyme, or anything else for that matter.

That is why many people like to brine their own turkey and put spices in their brine. The brine has the flavor of the spices, which in turn are carried over into the cells of the turkey. These flavors can be tasted as you enjoy your cooked turkey.

If you soak an enhanced bird in flavored brine, you will get more flavors into your turkey.

Simply use a little less salt when making your brine because salt is already in the bird. Thus a lower salt concentration in your brine will serve you well, adding flavors without making it too salty to the taste buds.

General Tips – Always remove any excess fat from the turkey, then remove the neck, and giblet packs from your turkey.

Always rinse your turkey and then drain it well.

When using a wet brine, you may have to use a clean or sterilized weight inside a Zip-Loc bag to keep the turkey submerged under the brine.

Olive oil, Canola oil, or butter can be rubbed on the skin of a wet brined turkey after it has been patted dry to help facilitate browning of the skin.

Enhanced Turkey - Enhanced meat is defined as; Meat that has been injected with a solution of water, salt, phosphates, antioxidants, flavorings, and/or other added ingredients.

Whole turkeys are passed through a computerized machine that injects the meat with a pre-mixed solution. These computer-controlled devices have multiple injectors containing many flexible needles that pierce the meat, but not the bones. The flexible needles stop at the bones as the computer separately controls pressure for the flow through each needle, allowing the injected solution to be evenly distributed throughout the entire turkey.

The only way to determine if your turkey has been enhanced is to carefully read the label; look for the key-words like "basted", "enhanced", "injected", and "improved". Also look for phrases like "extra tender", "always tender", "moist and juicy", “self-basting”, and "tender and juicy". Lastly, check the ingredients list for salt, phosphates, solution, broth, or flavorings. These are the key words to determining if your turkey has been injected. Even with the words "Fresh" and/or "Natural" could be still be used to describe an enhanced turkey if you read the small print.

Enhanced meat is well grounded in the market chain, and it isn't going away anytime soon. Besides being well rooted in the market place, enhanced meat is extremely profitable. Unsuspecting consumers are drawn to the key-words and key-phrases, with the promise of a better product for a better meal.
Many do not realize that although the end result of the enhancing process is tenderness, the real reason for enhancing turkey is for increasing profits. Enhancing a turkey will; extended the shelf life, enhance the color, and will add additional weight to the package. While a 5% gain in package weight might not seem like a large profit margin; consider the fact that 736 million pounds of turkey are sold each year. 736 million pounds of turkey sold at an average of a dollar a pound will turn that added 5% weight into an additional $36,800,000.00 in annual profits.

Sadly, many consumers do not have fresh meat sources to choose from, so they have no choice but to purchase enhanced meats from the general marketplace.

Also see


Last edited by IamMadMan; 11-11-2018 at 12:33 PM.. Reason: grammer
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:53 AM   #5
is one Smokin' Farker
Join Date: 03-27-15
Location: Mishawaka, IN

This is great info. Thanks for posting. I scanned it, but will read it thoroughly after church.
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Old 11-11-2018, 09:29 AM   #6
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Search for posts by SmokinOkie, Russ knows his stuff about brining.

Here's a link to his Brining 101

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Old 11-11-2018, 02:38 PM   #7
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Excellent info. Plus one on Smokin Okie it’s a great tutorial. IamMadMan Always has great information. As said harvest brine is really good stuff
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