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Old 03-17-2014, 10:26 AM   #1
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Smoking my first meat ever tomorrow- a large turkey.

What do I do to the turkey before it goes into the smoker? I'm not properly prepared to brine it this time.
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Old 03-17-2014, 12:38 PM   #2
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You can dry-brine it, Jen - just rub it all over and under the skin with kosher salt, let sit overnight in the fridge, then before you smoke it, rinse it really well and pat it dry. Season as you wish.

I like to rub the skin with just a little olive oil so the seasonings will stick. Make or buy a dry rub, rub it under the skin and all over the bird. If you do the dry brining, then don't put any more salt in the rub you use. Apply the rub inside too.

I usually cut an onion or two in half, you can also halve a couple lemons, and a few sprigs of thyme, stuff 'em in the cavity, and tie the legs to keep the stuff inside the bird. This adds great flavor and moisture as it smokes.

We run our smoker for one heat, which is just about three hours, then check a temp on the turkey - if it's not done yet, then we put it in the oven to finish cooking, as it's cheaper than running more charcoal and oak - after about 3 hours they really don't absorb much more smoke anyway, so you're just using the heat to finish the cooking process.

After it's done cooking, make sure to let it stand at least 30 minutes before cutting - it will be juicy and delicious that way!
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Old 03-17-2014, 04:36 PM   #3
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Thanks a bunch!! I'll attempt a dry rub with olive oil tonight! Any spice combo you particularly like? I have a bunch...
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Old 03-18-2014, 04:55 AM   #4
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You sure picked a doozy for your first smoke! How many pounds is your bird? I have been smoking for years and always have problems with turkey, because I worry about low and slow cooking (the essence of smoking) with large poultry. Charski's advice was - as always - spot on. Good luck and let us know how it works out. Just remember, 1st efforts often fall short of our expectations, so, just like changing how you eat, don't give up.

My first effort at smoking a brisket, IMHO the king of smoked meats, was a raging failure, all those years ago. In fact it took almost 2 full days till it could be eaten! Hang in there.

P.S.: Now that St. Patrick's Day has passed, and all those leftover corned beefs will be on super sale, think about a pastrami! Not as good as corning your own brisket and doing he whole business from scratch, but pretty darned tasty nonetheless. Welcome to to the joys of smoking.
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Old 03-18-2014, 08:12 AM   #5
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Jen, sorry I didn't see this last night - my rubs usually incorporate paprika, garlic and onion powders, chile (not chili) powder (usually ancho chile powder, it's not too hot but has lots of good flavor), freshly-ground black pepper, dried/crushed oregano, a little dried/crushed thyme, a very small amount of cumin (it's a strong flavor and I don't care for much of it, but a little adds to the complexity of the rub), and salt if I'm not brining the meat first.

We used to do turkeys in our covered kettle grill all the time - just pushed the lit charcoal to the sides with a drip pan in the middle - they were really good! But once we got the smoker, they became something special. I think the key is to not try to do too large a bird - we usually stick to something under 15 pounds. If they're larger than that, I'd rather split them - they'll cook more evenly.

And what Croton says - I'm on the prowl for some bargain corned beef brisket to turn into pastrami now!
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Old 03-18-2014, 01:32 PM   #6
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…I have been smoking for years and always have problems with turkey, because I worry about low and slow cooking (the essence of smoking) with large poultry.
Hi Croton...

Yup.

The advice to finish the turkey in the oven after 2-3 hours of smoke is spot on. All my friends who have smoked for decades (sounds bad doesn't it?) tell me to BBQ birds and smoke meat.

When you pull things from the smoker to finish them in an oven, it's best to wrap them in foil too...and add a ˝ cup or cup of liquid to the mix. Kills a bit of the crackly crust, but keeps the meat moist.

Turkeys are smoked! We buy them.

The process is long and involved, and closely monitored. Birds which are naturally smoked and cost a billion-bucks-a-pound are put into brine for 2-3 days at 35-40°F (walk in cooler), and then smoked in a smoke house where the humidity is kept at 80-90% during the smoking/cooking for up to 16 hours.

The brine is for curing and the smoke/heat to cook and flavor.


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Old 03-18-2014, 04:22 PM   #7
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This turkey is STILL FROZEN *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* on bird.

Looks like I'll need to thaw it on the counter for awhile tonight, dry brine it tomorrow and smoke it the NEXT day.

My turkey is 15 pounds exactly.
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Old 03-18-2014, 04:38 PM   #8
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Smoked turkeys were right beside this uncooked one... same brand, same size $12 more!
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:17 PM   #9
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They always take a few days to defrost in the fridge. Put it in the sink and fill it with cool water - that helps a LOT. Turn it over every hour or two until it's defrosted.

Hope it turns out awesome!
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Old 03-19-2014, 02:48 AM   #10
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Larry's advice is good. I add another component as well. After I wrap whatever I am smoking in foil, preparatory to finishing in the oven, I put it in a Reynold's Oven bag and cinch it tight. I find this holds the moisture better and results in great meat. Yes, you loose a bit of the bark, but the trade off is worth it.

When I was younger I used to stay up all night, drinking lots of beer and tending to my charcoal/wood fired offset smoker. I came up with this new method when I decided I was too old to stay up drinking all night anymore - another of life's trade offs!
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Old 03-19-2014, 08:05 AM   #11
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LOL Croton! We had kind of a similar epiphany here!

Also when we discovered that it did NOT need to be in the smoker to finish cooking - that helped a great deal too. No more getting up at 3 am to fire up the smoker so the meat would be "done" by 5 pm!
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Old 03-19-2014, 08:37 AM   #12
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Will do!
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Old 03-19-2014, 08:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charski View Post
…No more getting up at 3 am to fire up the smoker so the meat would be "done" by 5 pm!
2Hi Char...

If we have to 'push' to get them done, we start them at supper, then pull them from the smoker by 10pm to wrap and finish in the oven, and pull them at noon to hit that 5pm deadline.

What I love about finishing them in the smoker all the way is the bark and the burnt ends which are greatly reduced when we finish them in the oven.

The only way we can smoke in the winter in Wyoming is pick a day in the 40s, pull the smoker out to the mouth of the garage, start roasts about 1pm and pull them before the temperature drops below freezing at night. We'll put a Pork Butt in at 2pm to start & smoke, and pull it at 7pm and hold it till bedtime; then pull it out of the oven at noon.

What we can do extra well in winter is cold smoke cheese.

Smokers are a creative lot…


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Old 03-19-2014, 12:50 PM   #14
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I want to smoke cheese!!!

And nuts!!!

Uh, tree nuts, anyway...


Hmmm... can you smoke any veggies? Cabbage comes to mind...

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Old 03-19-2014, 02:00 PM   #15
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I have a small electric Little Chief smoker that I use for doing salmon and pork belly for bacon and stuff. I might have to try cheese sometime - it gets up to 150* on a HOT day with the sun directly on it, not sure if that's too hot or not though?

I bet I could hook my sous vide temp controller up to it and get it to keep a steady temp....
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Old 03-19-2014, 02:43 PM   #16
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I have no idea what I'm doing... ... but da bird is loaded with salt. I butchered the poor thing.

I had no idea how much salt to use... but we can safely say I need to buy more kosher salt!

The turkey did not fit in my (huge oval) crockpot... I had to put it in a crockpot liner then put that in a clean trash bag- I had nothing else and I certainly wasn't going to put a not-quite-closed bag of turkey in my fridge by itself!

We can safely say I need more floor cleaner too! Whaddamess!!
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Old 03-19-2014, 03:08 PM   #17
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I have a small electric Little Chief smoker that I use for doing salmon and pork belly for bacon and stuff. I might have to try cheese sometime - it gets up to 150* on a HOT day with the sun directly on it, not sure if that's too hot or not though?

I bet I could hook my sous vide temp controller up to it and get it to keep a steady temp....
Hi Char...
The key to smoking cheese is no added heat, just smoke.

To cold smoke cheese I use an A-maze-n Smoke pellet Smoke Tube (I own a pair of the 6" models, and a 12" one) to generate smoke with very little heat. Then the smoker is just the container where this happens.

I know guys who smoke cheese in well ventilated tall cardboard boxes...to keep the heat at bay.

Googlr: amazenproducts A-maze-n Smoke tubes

I can smoke cheese for 2-3 hours without melting it, and without putting ice into the smoker to keep it cool. At 90-105°F it will start to droop/drip. I monitor temps inside the smoker.

I pick a early and cool morning (40°F) and load up the cheese into the smoker (which is in the shade) in ˝ pound blocks, and then put a smoke tube at the bottom.

Each tube will generate smoke for 2 hours, and only raise the ambient temp of the smoker by 10°-15°.

I smoke 4˝ pounds of cheese at once, and do two batches in two days.

Soon as they assume outdoor temps, I vacuum seal them and put them away in our garage fridge for the next 4-6 months. They need at least a month to mellow...but after 6 months and longer they are crazy good.

These days it's not so hard, because I'm always ahead of the game. It was only frustrating the first time (waiting…and waiting…and waiting).

I've smoked a lot of different kinds, but sharp cheddar is our favorite...so these days that is about all we smoke.

OK JH we are still awaiting news of the smoked turkey.


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Old 03-19-2014, 03:16 PM   #18
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Thanks for the great info, I'm gonna check that smoker tube out!

Totally get it on the waiting...waiting...waiting.... We have that same problem with our beer brewing! LOL! Our pipeline has been severely depleted so we are now awaiting a lovely brown ale, which was 2 weeks in the fermenter, then bottled, now has been nearly 3 weeks in the conditioning chamber - and will be ready to take out and fridge some up Friday. It is best to wait 2 days for it to completely chill so the carbon dioxide can go into solution, so we'll probably get a chance to try it on Sunday. Fun hobby but yeah - patience is a real virtue.
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Old 03-19-2014, 04:03 PM   #19
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Old 03-19-2014, 05:40 PM   #20
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Happy Smoking and report back!
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Old 03-19-2014, 06:49 PM   #21
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Make sure you rinse it REALLLLLY well before you smoke it!
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Old 03-19-2014, 07:50 PM   #22
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Aye Aye captain! And no salt in the spices!

250* for 6 1/2 hours (15 lb turkey, hickory wood) + 400* for 30 minutes to crisp sound good-ish? My smoker came with the smoking times but not what temperature.

I baste with some kind of fat (coconut oil? butter?) at the beginning? Or at the crisping stage?

And cover in foil and let sit for 30 minutes at end?

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Old 03-20-2014, 07:56 AM   #23
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We run our smoker between 200 and 225*. Because one cycle of charcoal/soaked oak will burn about 3 hours, that's when we take the meat off and finish any cooking necessary in the oven. If you still have plenty of heat left, you can finish in the smoker but it just costs more than running the oven.

Do you have a probe-style digital thermometer? That's really the best way to find out if it's done or not! 160* for the breast and 175* for the thigh, IIRC.

Interestingly for ME - I don't care for the skin all that much when it's smoked - yet I'll about peel a whole turkey if it's just ovenroasted. BUT the meat, when smoked, will beat ANY ovenroasted bird any day, in my book! So, I don't really worry about making sure the skin is crispy when we smoke a turkey. Personal preference!

Good luck, and take pictures!
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Old 03-20-2014, 09:18 AM   #24
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Remember. If there are no pictures it didn't happen! Good luck and let us know.

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Old 03-20-2014, 09:35 AM   #25
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Alrighty! The turkey is thoroughly rinsed and spiced up with Charski's exact combo- the chile I have right now is chipotle. I used my plain paprika instead of smoked for like the first time ever...

I then rubbed it all over with coconut oil and stuffed her with the biggest lemon you ever did see, cut in half.

Thar she goes! They need a window so you can look in and see if you're burning the sucker or not!!

I'll be sure to post again tonight with a picture, Roger!!!

Oh, there was copious skin so I removed some since you said the skin isn't the best when smoked, Charski. I'm baking it then I'm going to broil it for some crispy turkey skin chips!

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Old 03-20-2014, 10:29 AM   #26
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Oh good idea on the skin, Jen! YOU might like the smoked skin OK but I think it's kind of tough and very very smoky flavored - much more-so than the meat itself.

So not sure if you mentioned this anywhere, but what kind of smoker do you have?

And yep - pictures. Otherwise - WHAT smoked turkey?!
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Old 03-20-2014, 10:49 AM   #27
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Oster Smoker Roaster- on Amazon it got really excellent reviews
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Old 03-20-2014, 12:44 PM   #28
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Well now THAT is a horse of a different color! LOL!

Wow, can't wait to hear how that turns out - might be a dandy way to smoke when it's too cold outside to babysit the Brinkmann! Are you doing this indoors??
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Old 03-20-2014, 02:49 PM   #29
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Oh no!!! Outside! It is a smoker, indeed. With smoke.

My backyard smells like hot dogs and barbecue sauce.

My son says it smells like hot dogs and chili.

Anyway, it doesn't smell like it is burning.

I was thinking it'd be good for when it is too hot outside to keep the house cool- much less turn an oven on.

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Old 03-20-2014, 02:56 PM   #30
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Roger, so what DID you do wrong with that first brisket?
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